Life in Perspective (Part of a Series)

I have been “snowed-in” for the past few days and have completed a lot of homework for my new graduate degree that I’m working on.  I have also pinned a lot on Pinterest.  In keeping this post short, I was able to sit down with my daughter and go through these pictures and ask her thoughts on what she saw.  This was a very enlightening moment as she realized that the world was actually as big as she was being told.  Kids are so visual and no matter how many reports they have to write on globalization and multiculturalism, it always hits home when they get to “see” it.  The best is when they can experience.  I wanted to share with you what I shared with her from a site called distractify.com.

Information and link courtesy of distractify.com

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Learning in the Sun

We have all heard of the infamous “Summer Slide” and if you haven’t, it is the loss of knowledge that occurs during the summer months.  Children are usually outside playing, babysitting siblings, or inside playing video games or on social media–all of which are not promoting learning throughout the summer.  So, in turn, they lose what they have learned throughout the school year and the brain becomes lazy.  As a teacher, it is always interesting to hear a student say “Mr. or Mrs. So and So didn’t teach us that last year.  This is mostly 90% incorrect.  They were in fact taught the concepts but failed to retain them throughout the summer and the brain placed the information into the deep recesses of their mind.  They just don’t remember. This leads to a reteaching of concepts that have already been taught and a waste of classroom time that could be spent on “going deeper” with those same concepts.

Every summer, I have my daughter read a book and tell me about it.  If it is a book that I haven’t read myself, I pull a copy of the chapter by chapter summary from online (to make sure she is not bluffing).  Most times, she has a summer reading assignment for her teacher for the upcoming year but, I also give her assignments myself.  The web is a great tool.  I can create crossword puzzles to test her knowledge of the book.  There may even be some already created.  My new passion is Prezi, so this summer, I am having her use this platform to summarize the story (plot events), conflict, theme, and main characters.  She is currently reading ” The Fault in Our Stars”.

Another tool I use is my local bookstore.  There is an entire teacher/education section where I pick up material for her to study math concepts (this is her hardest subject).  It is important, especially with subjects that children find challenging, to keep them immersed in the material all year-long.  Finally, the local library usually runs a summer reading contest or club catering to the different age groups.  There are so many resources out there and if you need any other ideas, feel free to drop me a line.  I have also added my Pinterest board “No More Summer Slide,” that provides a wealth of resources and I will continue to add to it as I come across great links.  Remember, you are not stealing the fun away from your child.  They can still go out and play.  But, what you are doing is preparing them to be successful academically and later on in life.

 

Most Important Advice

best job and education 1 400.jpgLet me preface this by stating that I may change my mind and add to this list but as of now, I feel that if I had to give both of my children (especially my son) a few words of wisdom it would be:

There are two things in this world that can determine your path in life:

  1. Education
  2. Your peers (the circle you are in)

My original wording was that there are two things that can shut doors and ruin your life, where it would take an extraordinary effort to get it back on track.

  1. Not getting an education
  2. Dealing with the wrong people

Since the original wording wasn’t as optimistic, I decided to lighten it up for this post (but believe me, my kids may get it either way). The reason that I chose the two is because both can open doors and provide opportunities but only one can ruin everything that you’ve ever worked for. The second trumps the first because education opens doors and dealing with the wrong people can shut them.  It is imperative that young adults know this. I have watched some of my middle school students on the right path academically, let their surroundings and friends get in the way of everything that they’ve worked hard for.  I have seen the brightest end up on house arrest, pregnant, addicted to drugs, etc.  When I mention this, I always receive the snide remark “well I guess they weren’t that bright.”  This is absurd.  They are still children, learning how to navigate this world and some are doing without parents but guardians and grandparents trying to fill the role.  To this remark, I reply “well, I guess all of the stupid mistakes that you’ve made in life, make you dumb as a doorknob.”

When these students return to me broken and embittered, I tell them these two things.  I have them go over their particular situation and those of others that they know have gone down the wrong path.  I ask them what do they see?  Is there a common denominator?  We explore their emotions and accept that its alright to feel this way but we must move on.  They search me for answers when the answers are inside of them but they are too young to know that now.  It is our job as adults to provide wisdom and not just be “the cool parent” or “the cool adult”.  This generation is looking for guidance and formula that they can follow when there really isn’t one.  So, I give them what I know to be true.  Learn, whether it be the traditional way or an untraditional way.  But, learn, read, explore.  And if you are going to do these things to better yourself and open doors, then do not slaughter your dreams by dealing with the wrong people.  We all make decisions in life and the old adage still holds true: Birds of a feather flock together.

Sometimes we think that staying “down” with others will inspire them and lift them up but, it does the reverse.  What inspires greatness is walking in your own light and excellence and when those who want the same for themselves are ready to obtain it, they will come and follow you!

Your Child’s Advocate

http://beorganized.fcorgp.com/content/bonnie-marcus
Stationary from the Bonnie Marcus Collection

It is the beginning of the school year and the perfect time to latch onto your child’s excitement for school before it fades away and possible bad habits start to creep in, resurface, etc.  I’m sure you all have received some version of their students rights and responsibilities handbook that requires your signature, updated school supply lists, and countless emergency care forms.  Well, take the time to set your child up for a year of success.  It will save you some stress and alert your child that you are in their corner and plan on being involved as much as possible.  Here is a list of tips:

1.  Send an email – make it personal, introduce yourself and give a little background about your child that the teacher may not get from looking at past standardized test scores.  This will accomplish a few things.  First, your email address will now be in their system and they will be able to easily reach you throughout the day if issues arise in the classroom.  As a teacher myself, I know that it is easier to get time to respond to an email than to make a call.  Also, my emails like many other educators come directly to my phone.  Secondly, the teacher will be able to use the information within your email to better help the child in front of them.  Thirdly, the earlier this done, the quicker it is for a teacher to put a face of one of their 120 students with a name.

2.  If your child has special needs or requires accommodations in the classroom, it is necessary to set up an appointment with the guidance counselor early in the year along with core teachers to let them know what works for your kiddo and update information on any IEP’s or 504’s.  Also, you will be able to adjust to changes that may occur.  Note:  certain accommodations given in elementary are not provided in middle school.

3.  See if you can obtain an extra copy of the textbooks to keep at home.  Some schools offer online textbooks.  Attach the class syllabus ( if given) or the county’s pacing guide to each book.  This way you know what should be covered and around about when.

4.  Have a sit down with your child and agree upon a schedule for when they return home for school.  When is snack time, homework time, chore time, tv time, etc.  Also, be clear of your expectations in regards to homework.  Designate a spot for them to complete homework everyday after school.  Make sure it is free from distractions and supplies are readily available, pencil sharpener, ruler, protractor, dictionary, thesaurus, pencils, pens, crayons, markers, colored pencils, paper, etc.

5.  Know that you can request a detailed progress report at anytime during the quarter.  You do not have to wait for interim and end of quarter report cards to be surprised by your child’s grades.

6.  Try as hard as you can to attend all orientations, back to school nights, and touch bases.

7.  Remember that most schools provide after school homework clubs so that students can get work done and ask questions.  This is free and may save you money on a tutor.  Also, there is a bus that usually takes the, home afterwards.  Check with your school.

8.  Preview the list of clubs and activities that your child’s school offers. Encourage them to get involved.  It will allow them to feel like part of the school and they will become even more vested in being successful there.

I hope this helps and if there are any questions, please feel free to reply to this post.  Also, another good idea would be to purchase an accordion folder to store report cards, awards, etc so that you have an archive of your child’s academic career.

* If you like the above stationary, please visit: http://beorganized.fcorgp.com/content/bonnie-marcus

Summer Learning

brain drainMy daughter will be entering the 7th grade this upcoming school year and it is my goal to make sure that she doesn’t lose what she has learned and build upon what she has retained. When kids take summer vacation and do not read or practice their skills they have a hard time retaining them. I know this because I am a teacher and the same students who sit in my classroom at the beginning of the school year cannot remember anything from the previous year except for one or two songs and maybe what they learned right near the end. This lapse of time in learning when children lose knowledge is most commonly referred to as ‘brain drain’.

Do NOT let ‘brain drain’ happen to your kid(s).

What are some steps that you can take to ensure that this doesn’t happen to your kid?

1. If you are a single mama like myself (and even if you’re not) and your child will be with family during the summer or in daycare, make sure that they know what you expect. My kids stay with their grandparents during the summer and I expect my daughter to read a certain amount of chapters a weekday from a book that either she or I have selected and be able to tell me a little about it when I speak with her. I also purchase math workbooks, reading comprehension workbooks, and writing workbooks from the teacher store or Barnes and Noble.
2. Have your kid(s) complete a couple of grade level or above grade level reading comprehension passages a week. Remember to tear out the answer keys from the backs of these books. Grade them when you have a chance or when you get home from work.
3. After you have graded their work be sure to celebrate their successes and conference with them in regards to what they have incorrect and why.
4. I understand that not everyone is a teacher like myself or has the time to grade and go over answers. In that case, why not employ a high school or college student at a bargain rate to assist you once or twice a week.
5. For very young children, read to them and ask them questions about what they heard. Also, allow them to practice their handwriting because in this day and age so many of them use technology and do not get enough practice doing so.

6. Take them to any free museums this summer or plays in the park. Look up your local community calendar or a community calendar of cities nearby. Expose them to art (graffiti can be art, too).
7. Check your child’s school website to see if they have any summer reading assignments that will be due the first week of school. Some even have science, history, and math assignments that are due the first week.
8. Try exposing them to a word a day which you can easily download an app from your phone.
9. Check the web for free resources and download content to your computer for your child to read and complete.
10. Use your public library. They always have events and free programs for kids of all ages. Some libraries even offer rewards and badges for completion of books with weekly check-ins.

As a parent it is crucial for us to take an active role in our children’s’ education. The position we take should be both proactive and purposeful. Creating an educated society and children who are equipped for life and college-ready (whether they choose to attend or not) is my personal goal as a teacher and parent. If you need other suggestions, please check the sites below:

NASA Exploration Design Challengehttp://ht.ly/lFlGe

NYC Youth Voices Summer Programhttp://www.incited.org/projects/youth-voices-summer-program-connected-learning-with-the-nyc-writing-project

Google + Maker Camphttp://makezine.com/maker-camp/

Books to read with boyshttp://www.wired.com/geekdad/2012/03/67-books-for-kids/?pid=1185&viewall=true

Journaling Pageshttp://www.graceisoverrated.com/p/journal-pages.html

Lessons and Printable Worksheetshttp://www.readwritethink.org/ and http://writingfix.com/index.htm

Mathhttp://coolmath.com/