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Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

Traveling With Math

Friday, May 17th, 2013

Will you be traveling this summer?  Here are a few math activities that you can do with your child…

  1. Discuss directions (north, south, east, and west) to give your child a sense of coordinates.  Use street maps to find travel routes and addresses.  Have your child estimate the time of your arrival and compare that to the actual time it took to arrive at a given destination.
  2. Have competitions when traveling.  Count red cars or see who can find the largest number formed by the numerals on a license plate.
  3. Have your child practice record and read the large number on license plates viewed.  Find the largest number in a given time period of travel.
  4. Estimate, then time how long before a street light changes.  Estimate, then count how many stores are in a block.
  5. Point out speed limits and distances between towns.  Talk about the time it takes to get from one town to another when you drive at different speeds.
  6. Have your child check the odometer in the car to determine distances on a trip….starting point and ending destination.
  7. Find the differences between certain distances traveled.  Find out how much farther you traveled on the first day than you did on the second day.
  8. Practice reading the numbers on the odometer.


Super Heroes

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Symbols of action hero favorites decorate shirts and pajamas, wallpaper and sheets. Heroes are huge with kids…both small and of the grown-up variety. A “hero” is anyone worthy of being respected and honored for his or her courage, noble exploits or outstanding qualities. On a TV screen or through a child at play cartoon characters and fictional action-figure heroes routinely exhibit great courage. But the contrived and scripted stages on which they act are so artificial their actions are usually of little value in guiding the real world behavior of kids. Children, though, don’t always draw this distinction clearly. So, it is a wise parent who builds “thought bridges” across which these heroic actions of fantasy champions can be translated into real life principles and acts a child can imitate on the stages of their own family, school, community and social relationships.

Use questions like these to help you and your children notice and value everyday heroes and heroics:

After you have watched a hero perform in a game, a movie, on a TV show, or in a newspaper or news report, ask:

  • What do you think he/she was thinking at that moment?
  • What is the lesson to be learned from what happened?
  • What would prevent me from doing the same thing?

When a friend, neighbor or family member does something “heroic” (selfless, of true value and worthy of emulation), ask:

  • How can I/we best applaud and truly appreciate what this person has done? (Imitation is the highest form of flattery.)
  • Is jealousy or rivalry coloring the value of this act?

When your “hero” fails to perform, ask:

  • Should this failure or mistake change my “hero’s” status?
  • Did my hero have the character to express regret/apologize?

Spring Cleaning

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

As spring brings out all that is fresh and new, thoughts turn to spring cleaning and packing away our winter hats and gloves. But as we look forward to getting ready for spring, we should not forget all of the progress we have made throughout the school year. It is important to look back so we can see how far we have come. Consider setting up a filing system for your student. These files can prove to be a rich source of inspiration and reflection for any student.

Grade school students may wish to save cherished artwork and see the progress they have made. With a quick flip through their file, they can see how their cursive writing has become neater, how they can read books with chapters, and how their artwork has improved.

Middle school students will be able to track the development of their skills. Simple addition and subtraction give way to geometry and pre-algebra. Essays extend beyond a page; science projects involve complex equations and chemicals.

As their studies become more complicated, students may find their files have grown dramatically in size, an indication of the increasing complexity of their knowledge. They may be surprised to learn how much material they have studied.

High school students may wish to save long English papers which can be revised and turned into college admissions essays. Favorite books can be a source of inspiration; an essay about The Great Gatsby from the 9th grade could be the source of an inspiring AP essay for college credit. Chemistry and biology experiments may be the basis for scholarship applications for science programs.

Over the long run, students can examine these saved files and see how their interests develop. A science fair project from the fifth grade could spark a lifelong interest in chemistry, reflected in more and more complicated projects throughout junior high and high school. History papers about the Civil War can spark an outside interest in re-enactments.

As they look back on these files, students can see how much they’ve improved year by year. The 3rd grade book report about Old MacDonald’s Farm may be a far cry from Animal Farm in 11th grade, but students will be able to see how they have developed into mature young adults with a broad range of knowledge. These learning files show students how they’ve grown and where they are heading.

Young Adolescents and Learning

Friday, April 5th, 2013

What are the specialized needs of young adolescents ages 10-15?  Why do we need to develop curricula and educational programs tailored to those unique needs? Researchers have found that young adolescents have the following developmental needs

  • positive social interaction with adults and peers
  • creative expression
  • structure and clear limits to physical activity
  • meaningful participation in families and school
  • opportunities for self definition
  • competence and achievement

Programs which meet the developmental needs of young adolescents use a variety of activities and strategies. As young adolescents have an orientation toward peers and a concern about social acceptance, work in small groups and advisory programs promote opportunities for interaction with peers and adults. Interdisciplinary team organization fosters feelings of belonging while advisory groups allow time and a small group for discussion of issues.

Achievement and competence is achieved through authentic assessment based on personal goals, challenging intellectual material focused on relevant problems and issues, and with recognition by peers and adults. The increase in the desire for autonomy can be addressed through learning strategies involving choice, a curriculum based on social and individual interests. Service projects and project based learning capitalize upon young adolescent’s creative expression and need for meaningful participation.

Your Child and Reading

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

The best way to prepare children for reading instruction is to read interesting books to them. Nearly any book that youngsters can understand and relate to will do. Nursery rhymes and books with repetitive patterns lend themselves to preparation for reading.

Children begin acquiring literacy (reading and writing) long before they enter school. Most school-age children have acquired a fairly extensive vocabulary and sophisticated language system. They have seen traffic signs and billboard advertising, printed messages on television, and printing on cereal boxes. They can tell a McDonald’s logo from that of Burger King and distinguish a box of Fruit Loops from a box of Captain Crunch.

They have seen their parents read books, magazines, newspapers, letters, or bills, and observed them writing notes or letters, filling out forms, and making lists. The children may also have imitated some of these activities. Their parents may have read books to them and provided them with crayons, pencils, and other tools of literacy. All youngsters, no matter how impoverished their environment, have begun the journey along the path that begins with language acquisition and ends in formal literacy.

Excerpts from Creating Reading Instruction For All Children by Thomas G. Gunning, Allyn and Bacon, 1992.

Motivating Your Child

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Sometimes a child doesn’t seem motivated to start a project because it appears overwhelming. You can help by teaching your child to break a large job down into smaller parts. Say, “First, we will plan a trip to the library to get the materials you will need. Then you will need to schedule some time each day for your research.”

As your child completes each step, he will gain confidence and motivation. That will keep him working until the job is finished.

Home Alone

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Are you considering leaving your child alone for short periods of time? If so, you are not alone. Statistics show that    occasional self-care is a normal experience for a large number of young children.

An estimated two million to six million children are considered to be “latchkey” children….7 to 10 percent of all five to 13-year-olds. Should your child be staying alone? The answer depends on several factors, according to Christine Todd, extension specialist for child development at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Self-care can be a rewarding experience for children who are ready for it,” she says. “However, if the child is not ready, self-care can be a frightening and potentially dangerous situation.”

Benefits of self-care by children who are ready for it include increased independence, increased knowledge of self-care skills, increased sense of responsibility, greater self-esteem and a sense of contribution to the family. Concerns related to children who are not ready include reduced learning opportunities and social contacts, increased misbehavior and legal consequences for parents.

Ask yourself the following questions when determining a child’s readiness:

  • Is the child physically capable of taking care of and protecting himself or herself?
  • Is the child mentally capable of recognizing and avoiding danger and making sound decisions?
  • Is the child emotionally ready? Will he/she feel confident and secure or afraid, lonely and bored?
  • Does the child know what to do and who to call if a problem or emergency arises?

There is no “magic age” at which children are ready for self-care, and that other factors besides a child’s age or maturity may influence your decision. For example, if your neighborhood is unsafe, if there are no adults nearby to call in case of emergency, or if your child must remain alone for a very long time, it is best to continue to use some form of child care even if your child seems ready to stay alone.

Adapted from Illinois Association of School Boards.

Almost?

Monday, March 11th, 2013

RISKS

Saturday, March 9th, 2013
  • To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
  • To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
  • To reach out for another is to risk involvement.
  • To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
  • To place your ideas, your dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
  • To love is to risk not being loved in return.
  • To live is to risk dying.
  • To hope is to risk despair.
  • To try is to risk failure.
  • But risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
  • The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing.
  • They avoid suffering and sorrow, but they can not learn, feel, change, grow, love, live.
  • Chained by their attitudes, they are a slave, they have forfeited their freedom.
  • Only the person who risks is free.

Anonymous

Face to Face Communicating

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Listening

Recently at a large convention I had an opportunity to view first hand the good and bad in communicating. These tips are great for anyone to use:

  • Always remember that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
  • Every individual is a communicator and has credibility with someone.
  • Be genuine and honest. If you don’t know, don’t guess.
  • Be enthusiastic. A spark is essential if you want to motivate enthusiasm in others.
  • Identify key communicators.
  • Use every available means to get people to “witness” quality efforts in action.
  • Encourage visibility.
  • Make communications a part of your objectives each year.
  • Don’t “PR people to death” suddenly.
  • Above all, listen. Listening is a sign of caring, is basic to building responsiveness, and is the key to confidence.