Monthly Archives: May 2016
High levels of confidence have been linked to better academic performance and social skills. But just telling your child “Good job!” or “You’re a star!” doesn’t build self-confidence. “Think of the ‘self’ in self-confidence,” says psychologist Dr. Erica Ross. “It’s the child’s own viewpoint that matters.” As a parent, what can you do to support your kid’s inner cheerleader?
# Focus on Strengths
Help your child realize what’s special about her. For example, she might like to play basketball, draw, take care of her baby brother, or care for animals. These strengths don’t need to be things that she’s “the best” at, or even things she’s succeeded in—they’re just her unique interests that make her who she is. Appreciating these attributes can give her a boost when she encounters difficulties.
# Practice Confident Body Language
# Encourage Self-Evaluation
# Make Goals
# Check School Policy
Before you start to plan your holiday travel, make sure you’re clear on the school’s policy regarding absences. You can usually find it on the school district website, otherwise you may need to call and ask. Usually there are a set number of excusable absences allowed each year. If your holiday will be longer than that or you’ve already used up some absences, you may need special permission from the administration to take your little learner out of school again.
# Do a Grades Audit
# Get Organized
Get a binder or folder together with worksheets, readings and study guides your little jet-setter will need to keep up with the class while he’s away. If he needs to do some schoolwork during vacation, take inventory to make sure you have all the books and materials needed to complete the assignments before your trip. Long car rides and layovers that would usually leave your child bored are a great opportunity for him to get his schoolwork out of the way.
# Plan Educational Activities
During vacation, there’s plenty of time for sledding, sing-alongs, snowball fights…and sneaking in some hands-on learning. Fun educational activities aren’t only great ways to keep young minds sharp and avoid a “brain drain” over holiday break—they’re family bonding opportunities as well. If you have a craft enthusiast, grab your art supplies for some winter-themed activities. Or, if your kid is a tech-lover, stock your tablet with educational apps and games. If you invest some time in learning during the break, he’ll hit the ground running when it’s time to go back to school.
# Build in Buffer Time
Whether you’re driving back from Grandma’s or flying in from Hawaii, sending your child back to school when he’s still in vacation mode is sure to leave him in a pickle. Plan to have some “buffer time” between vacation and school for your kid to switch gears and reacclimate to a normal schedule after late nights, treats, and running wild with his cousins. Flying in on the red eye and sending your child to school the next morning means his teacher has to try to catch him up while he’s still mentally on holiday break. Cutting your vacation short by an afternoon will give him a chance to reboot and get his head in the game before he’s back at his school desk.
Broad goals for the language arts curriculum focus on increasing children’s skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. It is neither possible nor advisable to totally separate the learning of one skill from the learning of another; however, at times you will focus more on one area of language arts than another. These four broad goals are outlined in the following sections.
Children will develop the ability to listen in order to make sense of their environment. In order for children to learn, they need to take information in and process it. Listening to and comprehending information is an essential step in acquiring knowledge (Cassell, 2004; Jalongo, 1996). Listening is not a natural, innate ability. Instead, it is learned through the guidance and teaching of parents, teachers, and other people in young children’s environment (Kupetz & Twiest, 2000). Strategies such as a hand signal or environmental cues such as turning the lights off to signal total quiet are helpful in alerting the children that it is time to stop what they are doing and listen.
Teaching children to listen to other children and to adults will increase the opportunities to learn language as well as new ideas. It is also one of the hardest skills to teach young children, who are often very busy initiating activities and expressing themselves and who are not as interested in listening to those around them.
In order to learn language, children need opportunities to talk and be heard (Dickinson & Snow, 1987). Effective adult-child dialogue includes an adult who listens as the child speaks, asks questions that encourage the child to say more, and expands and elaborates on what the child has said. Samantha shows her teacher a picture that she drew. Instead of responding with a typical praise of “That’s nice” or “What a good job you did,” Mrs. Bands stops what she is doing, kneels down at eye level with Samantha, and says, “Tell me about this picture that you drew.” Samantha has the opportunity to describe and explain her drawing.
Children need to learn that the manner in which they speak depends on the situation. Informal speech is appropriate with friends and family, but more precise speech is appropriate for school and other places outside the home. When children want to communicate their ideas, they need to speak in ways that others can understand and hear.
Although formal reading instruction typically begins in first grade, kindergarteners develop many skills that prepare them to learn to read. Children whose daily routines and activities provide them with “reading opportunities” will begin to identify environmental print (West & Egley, 1998). Names on bedroom doors, on cubbies in school, and on backpacks provide multiple and distinct opportunities for children to recognize their names. With repeated exposure to a predictable book, three-, four-, and five-year-olds can “read” stories. Mrs. Bands has read The Three Billy Goats Gruff to her class multiple times over the last three weeks. With their expert knowledge of the book, her class can anticipate when the goats are walking over the bridge and chime in with a chorus of “Trip, Trap, Trip, Trap.”
An environment that is rich in books and print helps children begin to discern the meaning of print (Vacca & Vacca, 2003). What seems like scribbling on a page begins to develop meaning as children begin to understand that print communicates a message (Sulzby, 1992). Children learn to recognize letters and words and eventually become aware of the relationship of sounds to letters and words (Bowman, 2002). Some kindergarteners effortlessly “crack the code” and begin to identify and sound out words with continued exposure to print. For other kindergarteners, reading will take more effort and require more formal instruction in first and second grade.
Children will learn to write in an increasingly complex and precise manner to communicate their ideas, request things, document their activities, and provide pleasure and amusement. To foster this development, three-, four-, and five-year-olds need experiences that encourage them to make marks on paper and write. Children begin writing by scribbling and drawing pictures. As their knowledge of print increases, letters are formed, and the collection of nonsense letters comes closer to phonetic spellings (Sulzby & Teale, 1985). The first discovery is often their own names, and they become fascinated with the results, as did four-year-old Tommy, who spent an entire afternoon crafting the “T” and “O” in his name when he discovered that “Tommy” was how his name was written.