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Posts Tagged ‘k-12’

A Holiday of Reading

Friday, December 28th, 2012

It’s not unusual for adults to stop reading to children once they are old enough to read for themselves.  however, even children in the intermediate grades still like being read to now and then, says Texas instructional specialist Sam Ayers.  He suggests that parents continue reading aloud to children on a consistent basis even as they get older and that teachers and librarians can make age-appropriate recommendations to parents who don’t feel comfortable selecting books on their own.

Mr. Ayers has found older children often enjoy reading to younger children.  “Parents should provide opportunities for children to read to each other,”  he says.  “This provides them with oral reading practice and may positively affect their self-esteem.  it also provides the listener with a positive role model.”

Researchers at Clark University and the Harvard Graduate School of Education suggest that you do more than just read books to preschoolers.  They suggest that you discuss the books and vary the types of books as well. 

The researcher recommend asking “what” and “why” questions that encourage the child to think about a character’s behavior and motivation and connect the events in the book with his or her own experience.  Ask the child to name colors and label objects.  Also vary the types of reading material.  For example, one time you may want to read a work of fiction.  The next time, read a nursery rhyme or a non-fiction informational book.


Christmas Everywhere

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Phillips Brooks
(Born December 13, 1835; died January 23, 1893)

Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!
Christmas in lands of the fir-tree and pine,
Christmas in
land of the palm-tree and vine,

Christmas where snow peaks stand solemn and white,
Christmas where cornfields stand sunny and bright.
Christmas where children are hopeful and gay,
Christmas where old men are patient and gray,
Christmas where peace, like a dove in his flight,
Broods o’er br
ave men in the thick of the fight;

Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!

For the Christ-child who comes is the master of all;

No palace too great, no cottage too small.

From Christmas Songs and Easter Carols
by Phillips Brooks, 1903.

Pressures on Children and Youth

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

As a parent, you want your child to learn from the experience of pressure as part of the process of growing up.  You also want to do whatever you can to help your child cope with the pressures in life and to prevent the pressures from becoming insurmountable.  Obviously, you cannot eliminate many of these pressures, even if you really wanted to.  But you can help your child face them and you can avoid adding to them to make them worse.

  • Provide guidance in dealing with pressure.  Your child could take one of three general approaches…retreat, capitulation or action…to reduce the stress.  You can help your child determine what action would be most effective in a given circumstance.
  • Let your child know you care.  Be available to help her or him work out difficulties.  When a child has the security of parental love and respect, pressure can be met with self-confidence.  Be supportive, not smothering.  The more children feel they have solved problems themselves, the more assurance they feel the next time.
  • Be a positive force in your child’s life, not a major pressure point.  Throughout school years, avoid making unrealistic demands.  It is fine to start education early, but don’t pressure children to learn or to read before they are ready.  Let them feel they are reaching for their own goals, not satisfying your needs.  Don’t push children into early social experiences…they will mature emotionally and physically at their own rate.
  • Teach your child to live with limitations.  No one excels in everything; no one is perfect.  It is not your child’s particula
  • r handicaps that are crucial, but his or her attitude toward them.  Children should know their limits and recognize their strengths.
  • Help your child find time to be alone….time to think, to dream,  to plan, to make decisions.
  • Ground your child in a system of values.  Even if pressures become overwhelming, you do not want your child to seek ethically unacceptable means of dealing with them.  Students who have cheated report a wish for more parental direction, firm rules and guidance in                        determining right and wrong.
  • Encourage your teenager to develop self-responsibility.  Volunteer service, such as community work, provides one of the few remaining outlets in adolescence for independence, cooperative rather than competitive activity and useful and socially necessary work.

Five Reasons to Give a Gift of Art

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Using a little creativity when choosing gifts for school-age family members or friends can really pay off….with gifts that youngsters grow with rather than out grow.  Some expand children’s creativity and curiosity and encourage learning throughout the year.  They also can provide opportunities for family members to join in the learning process.

  • Art Supplies. Young artists will appreciate basic art supplies, like paper, paints, markers, pencils and crayons.  Avoid art kits that have pre-designed patterns, since children should be encourage to use their imaginations and creativity.
  • Framed Art. Have a piece of your child’s artwork matted and framed; this transforms a temporary “refrigerator door” piece of art into a beautiful wall piece that your child can treasure in adult years. Your child may also enjoy a work of art purchase at an art fair, gallery or museum shop.  Additionally, some libraries and art museums rent or loan art pieces.
  • Nontraditional Art. For students who do not express an interest in traditional art, select a gift in some other art form.  Architects, illustrators, filmmakers, fashion designers, cartoonists and industrial designers are also artists.
  • Photography. A digital camera of one’s own is a good gift idea for students who have an interest in art, as well as for students who have not yet acquired that interest.  Children can take pictures on family trips or can use photography to collect ideas for drawings and paintings.
  • Private Space. Provide your child a special place to work on art projects, such as an easel in a quiet corner with good lighting and a comfortable stool.

Knowledge is Power

Monday, November 26th, 2012

If you have the information, you can distinguish truth from lies, good from bad, safety from danger plus much, much more.  If you have the knowledge, then the world is at your fingertips.  Computers and the Internet, plus a rich and varied curriculum enable students to gain this power.   Knowledge comes in the form of information. If you can access the appropriate information for learning and solving problems, then you can be freed from dependence on others to give you information.

  • Read books downloaded from The Internet.
  • Seek employment.
  • Research school projects.
  • Take online courses for college credit.
  • Research legal matters..
  • Network with other people.
  • Correspond with family and friends all over the world.
  • Enjoy Internet Radio.
  • Increase your learning efficiency and understanding of skills on concepts needed for success.

Seven Steps to Increase Brain Activity

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

The brain and skin are the first organs to develop in a fetus.  They emerge simultaneously out of the same layer of embryonic tissue.  The skin is often called the outside layer of the brain.  Let your child “experiment” with touch as a sensory system of the brain.

  1. Gather 16 samples of different textures….sandpaper, cloth, carpet, wood, etc.  and two large pieces of cardboard.
  2. Cut two, 2-inch squares from each of the textured materials so that you have two identical sets of 16 pieces.
  3. In rows of four, glue one set of 16 onto each  cardboard.  Be sure to arrange the textures in different order on each cardboard.
  4. Blindfold your child.  Ask your child to use his/her fingers to find four matches on the two cardboard sheets.  Time how long it takes to find four matches.
  5. Let your child use their palms or elbows.
  6. Involve other members of the family to see who has the fastest speed.
  7. Have a family discussion about the experiment and what was learned.

Are There Different Kinds of Smart?

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Not long ago, most viewed intelligence as a single quantity …an immutable, monolithic construct known as “intelligence quotient” or “IQ.”

Today we’re pretty sure that is wrong.  Thanks to Howard Gardner’s groundbreaking work and to corresponding developments in neurobiology, most experts now suspect there are at least several different kinds of intelligence.  Rather than a single quantity, intelligence is now largely seen as a grouping of capacities, each defined by Gardner as “an ability to solve a problem or fashion a product that is valued in one or more cultural settings.”

How many are there?  At last count, Gardner list 8 1/2 … Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Visual-Spatial, Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalist and half for Comedic Intelligence.

How many are likely to emerge?  Nobody really knows, but ultimately the question of precise numbers misses the point:  a more important question may be, “How do we use our many skills most effectively?”  And the answer seems to be.  “Use them often.”

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Summer Activities

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

While the following suggestions for family summer activities might seem obvious…..some of us need a gentle reminder once in awhile.

Encourage your children to join a community youth group
Visit the library with your child
Get your child a library card. It is a great gift
Check telephone listings for agencies and community groups that offer free parent and child materials. Don’t forget to check the Internet for these resources.
Take advantage of public recreation
Take nature hikes
Visit museums, zoos, and parks
Take your child to plays and concerts
When traveling with your children in a car or bus, discuss the sights you see along the way.

Overcoming Conventional Wisdom

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

TowerFor centuries, people believed that Aristotle was right when he said that the heavier an object, the faster it would fall to earth. Aristotle was regarded as the greatest thinker of all times and surely he could not be wrong. All it would have taken was for one brave person to take two objects, one heavy and one light, and drop them from a great height to see whether or not the heavier object landed first. But no one stepped forward until nearly 2000 years after Aristotle’s death. In 1589, Galileo summoned learned professors to the base of the leaning Tower of Pisa. Then he went to the top and pushed off a ten-pound and a one-pound weight. Both landed at the same time. But the power of belief in the conventional wisdom was so strong that the professors denied what they had seen. They continued to say Aristotle was right.

Considering the Best Measure for Quality Education

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

The other day a neighbor visited me while I was working in the garden. She wanted to talk about the changes occurring at the local school. Comparing the education she and her husband received with that her children were receiving, she had determined that they were getting an excellent education. Both parents were pleased their children were learning “so much more” than they had.

I had to agree with my friend, that, we most often use this standard of measurement for our children’s schooling. I certainly did when my children were young. But is this the best measure for quality in education? I asked the neighbor to consider how the world had changed, in the time since she was in school, and the amount of information we and our children have at our finger tips. It seems reasonable to assume that our children would, and should, be learning a great deal more of the information that took us years to assimilate. For the most part, our children begin school having access to more information than their parents had. By the time a child has completed one year of schooling that information has almost doubled. When I was in school it took many years for information to change. That provided me and those of my generation a certain consistency with learning information that is not available today. Therefore, I’m not certain that the same paradigms for learning, that served my neighbors and me, are adequate for today’s student.

Unfortunately, I do not have an easy answer for what should be or could be. I do know that when I hear about educators who continue to teach they way they have for many years, it concerns me. I have seen wonderful teachers who are very good with their students, but who are missing the mark in preparing their students for this fast paced world. That human aspect is so very important to teaching, but what of the child who does not receive adequate information to be successful in ensuing years. What a dilemma it raises for those of us who work with these well intentioned people on a daily basis. The tried and true paradigms of the past, that served us well, that prepared our youngster for a successful future, are not adequate today. We all have to try harder to challenge our own methods of educating and of evaluating schooling.