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Posts Tagged ‘Homeschooling’

Individuality as a Source of Value

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

There is no such thing as a value unless there are people involved. A value is something that provides benefit or opens up the possibility of benefit for someone. Values do not hang like clouds in the air. The have to be attached to people. Values require a constant asking of questions.

  • Who is going to be affected by this?
  • Who is going to benefit?
  • Who is going to be inconvenienced?
  • What will the perceptions be?
  • What are the immediate effects, both short and long term?
  • Will this value be noticed, will people talk about it?
  • Are there any special circumstances where the value will be different?
  • Are there special people for whom this could be a value?

Every educator knows….or should know….that there is no “average” student. If there are characteristics of intelligence, discipline, laziness, energy, trouble making, or boredom, troubles at home, and so on, then an educator knows that every possible combination of these factors will be exhibited in an individual.

The trick is to recognize individuality as a source of value.

By Edward de Bono

Happy Columbus Day!

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Columbus Day is celebrated on October 14 this year. Since 1920 the day has been celebrated annually. The history of Columbus, first landing in the New World on October 12, will be retold in many social studies classes in October.  The following is a brief account of its history.

On August 3, 1492 Columbus and 90 men set sail to find an easier route to Asia for the spice merchants. The expedition was sponsored by Queen Isabella of Spain, provided that Columbus would conquer some of the islands and mainland for Spain. On October 12 the ships landed on the island of Guanahani (in the Caribbean Islands) which Columbus immediately christened San Salvador and claimed it for Spain. When they landed on what is now Cuba they thought it was Japan! After 3 subsequent voyages, Columbus died rich and famous but not knowing that he had discovered lands that few people had imagined were there.

There are many holidays celebrated in the United States. Each holiday has an interesting history, and learning about holidays can help us understand the country and its people. Happy Columbus Day!

Six Developmental Needs of Young Adolescents

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
What are the specialized needs of young adolescents ages 10-15? Why do we need to develop curricula and instructional 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 learning programs
  • 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.

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?

Leisure-Time Reading

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

Leisure-time reading outside of educational activities is a key to superior learning performance, according to a study which examined the reading habits of 155 ten-year-olds. The most surprising finding was not the link between outside reading and educational proficiency, but rather the low amount of outside reading that is actually needed to improve instructional performance.

Astonishingly, ten minutes a day of outside book reading makes a vast difference, according to the study published in Reading Research Quarterly. Improvement tends to level off as outside reading time increases beyond twenty minutes a day.

Unfortunately most students read very little on their own. Therefore, the study suggests, parents and educators should make sure children have access to interesting books at a suitable vocabulary and comprehension level, and that adults read aloud to them and provide time for reading during each day.

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.

The Trick of Nines

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Is your child having trouble learning the “9″ times table? Here is a trick to help. Multiply any number by 9, and the answer will always add up to 9. Try it. 2 time 9 equals 18, and 1 plus 8 equals 9. 8 time 9 equals 72, and 7 plus 2 equals 9.

The trick works for very large numbers, as well, like this 8142 times 9 equals 73,278. 7 plus 3 plus 2 plus 7 plus 8 equals 27…and 2 plus 7 equals 9.

Give your child a calculator and let her try it for herself.

Eight Ways to Help Your Child Assume Responsibility for Learning

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

How can you help your child build a “take-charge” attitude and assume more responsibility for learning? Read and discuss these self-management strategies together:

1. Set Goals

Help your child learn to set goals and work to achieve them. Let your child know that successful people set goals. To succeed goals should be:

  • Short-term – do-able in a brief period of time
  • Specific – “75% on the weekly math test” or “completing a research report on schedule” are clearly defined goals. You will both know when a specific goal has been met.
  • Realistic – set only slightly above current level of achievement so that improvement can be recognized frequently.
  • Planned – to include the when, where, why, how, and how long of meeting the goal successfully.

2. Be an example

Give examples of goals you have set and met. Tell results and benefits of meeting goals. Let your child know that you feel good about what you achieved.

Discuss stories about people in the news who have set and met goals so that your child sees the value of taking responsibility for achievement

3. Introduce checklists

Checklists build responsibility and provide the sense of achievement that comes from checking completed items off a list.

4. Encourage a positive approach

A “can’t do” approach weakens a child’s will to “take-charge” of learning.

5. Understand instructions

Your child can’t gain a sense of responsibility, work independently, and “take-charge” in learning situations without understanding directions and instructions. Help your child know what to do with everyday instruction words by explaining, using, and reviewing the key words and phrases of instruction, such as:

circle P cross out P underline P delete P omit P graph
compare/contrast P explain P outline

6. Ask questions

When students sense that they need to know more about a topic, their motivation increases and they want to take responsibility for more learning.

7. Give praise

Praise used effectively can increase your child’s motivation and build a sense of responsibility for learning.

Praise for successful or improved performance, not just working on a task. Wait until you see that enough effort has been put forth, or enough work accomplished, so that praise is truly deserved.

8. Build on success

Once your child’s skills are beginning to expand and you see a “take-charge” attitude toward learning, you can help build on this success.

  • Give opportunities to practice skills informally
  • Encourage interests, activities, and hobbies that provide practice in learning
  • Give increased responsibility

A Family Pledge

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

We will sit down as a family for some of our meals.

We will build a family library, including some of our children’s favorite books.

We will make family visits to libraries, museums, zoos, and other learning places. We will talk about what we see.

We will set aside enough time to finish the day’s homework assignments.

We will have family “study” time when parents read and children do their homework.

We will balance our time between reading or other creative activities and watching TV.

We will all share in the excitement and joy of learning.

We will take time to visit with one another and to show our love and appreciation for each other and for our family.