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By Asa
posted Dec 15 2014 - 11:23am

VocabularyWithout a sufficient understanding of words students cannot understand others or express their own ideas.

Vocabulary is important across the curriculum from language arts and social studies to mathematics and science. It is intimately connected to both effective reading and writing skills, and these skills in turn are necessary for doing well in school.

Research studies have shown that in most cases students have to see, read and interact with words 5-7 times before they are admitted to long-term memory. Words are more easily learned if your child is active - drawing a picture of the word, writing her own definition of it, and thinking of an example sentence to use it in. This is better than simply writing the word over and over again.

So why is a rich vocabulary important to your child’s success?

           
By Asa
posted Dec 3 2014 - 2:22pm

spellingWe have spell-checkers on our computers, so why is it important that our children learn to spell? Is it important our kids learn the spelling rules we learned at school? Remember? "When -ing comes to stay, little e runs away."

Experts point out that teaching spelling systematically dispels the myth that spelling is unpredictable and confusing. That English is too chaotic to make sense is a myth. Sure, spelling is not simple, but when people understand its structure, it can be decoded.

Here are six reasons why spelling is important:

           
By Asa
posted Nov 25 2014 - 9:19am

By Sheila Welch

Upside down in the middle of nowhereOur book reviewer, Sheila Welch, has pulled out all the stops this time, finding us a selection of books that will change your scenery.

 

Here’s a book for children who love animal stories. NUTS TO YOU, written and illustrated by Lynne Rae Perkins, is a jaunty journey into the world of unusual squirrels who can talk and, even better, tell their own stories. With wide spaced lines and illustrations scattered as thick as acorns in an oak forest, this book is not intimidating for independent readers as young as third graders. It would also make an entertaining family read-aloud.

 

Don’t judge this book, UPSIDE DOWN IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, by its whimsical cover. In Julie Lamana’s first published book, she chose a difficult subject, Hurricane Katrina, as the central issue. Told in first person by ten-year-old Armani, this is a harrowing tale of a close knit family nearly torn apart by the storm and its aftermath. Although Armani survives, she loses some of her closest relatives. Definitely a worthwhile story for mature fifth graders to read and discuss with parents or teachers.

           
By Asa
posted Nov 19 2014 - 9:40am

Homework helpMost parents agree that being an involved parent means helping your kids out with their homework. However, where’s the balance? The hard part for most of us is knowing when we’re doing too much of the homework and not letting our kids take accountability for their own work. What if you see your child making mistakes? Should you let them hand in homework that is wrong?

Teachers can tell if their students have received too much help with their homework. Some teachers say they have resorted to asking the kids for rough drafts or sources for papers they have handed in, as it was evident that the work they handed in was not their own. Other teachers even quiz the students on homework handed in, much to the embarrassment of over-helped kids.

           
By Asa
posted Nov 12 2014 - 9:21am

Math repetitionThey say practice makes perfect. This thinking goes back to ancient Greece where Artistotle said: “it is frequent repetition that produces a natural tendency”. But we don’t just need to rely on the wise words of Greek philosophers, as it really boils down to common sense. With almost anything you do in life, the more time and effort you put into them, the more skilled you become.

Learning is no different. When you learn something new, a pathway is created in your brain. The more frequently you “travel that pathway”, or repeat the thought (such as learning math facts, a poem, lines for a play), the more likely you will be able to recall the information at a later stage.

So what can we parents to do help our kids learn the fundamentals of reading, writing and math through repetition?

           
By Asa
posted Oct 30 2014 - 10:02am

Child studyingHere’s an interesting fact: students who test themselves over and over as they study, do better in tests than students who memorize for the test.

And here’s the proof: Roddy Roediger, a psychology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, conducted research on how many images people remember. He divided his participants into three groups.

-          The first group was asked to try to memorize 60 pictures for 20 minutes.

-          The second group was asked to memorize 60 pictures for most of the 20 minutes.

-          The third group was tested on the 60 pictures three times over the 20 minutes.

The participants returned a week later to test how well they remembered the 60 pictures.

-          The first group remembered 16 out of 60 pictures.

-          The second group remembered about the same as the first group, a little better.

-          The third group remembered 32 out of 60 pictures, twice as many as the first group.

           
By Asa
posted Oct 21 2014 - 9:05am

Boy studyingWow, this is an eye opener. Denise Pope, a Stanford Professor and author, researched parent and student perceptions about the education system and the attributes they believe will gain the students success. She presents her findings in her book Doing School: How We are Creating a Generation of Stressed, Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students.

For those of you that don’t have time to read the book, this MindShift article provides a great summary of her research and some further insight from Denise Pope. Her recommendations lean more towards what schools can do to restructure for student success, but I think there are some take-aways for us parents as well.

           
By Asa
posted Oct 17 2014 - 10:36am

listening“In one ear, out the other” – most of us heard this as children from an adult, and many of us have probably used the phrase ourselves. As parents, we sometimes wonder how much attention our kids pay to instructions and learning.

Researchers have found that listening is so much more than hearing words. That it should involve an active process of interpreting information and making meaning of those words. Skilled learners have shown specific listening strategies that have led to their superior comprehension. The short of it is, your child can work at becoming a better listener.

Here’s how:

           
By Asa
posted Oct 8 2014 - 9:28am

Today we have an article from a guest blogger: Felicity Dyer. She tackles the topic of how parents with kids who have special needs can approach learning outside the classroom.

Special needsBy Felicity Dyer

Specialized, inclusive or other classroom education for children with special needs offers great strides in their mental, physical and social development. However, education supplementary to such schooling can also play just as important a role in a child’s development.

In the Home
The amount of work involved in raising a special needs child varies. Yet, making time to hone in on specific skills you can implement at home could be essential.

It is one part of the many tasks that just may allow your child to acclimate into an educational program more smoothly. Raising self-esteem, dealing with adversity and role playing how to adapt to a new (or daily) environment are a few of the important categories you can teach your special needs child before they step out the door.

           
By Asa
posted Sep 23 2014 - 3:37pm

anxiousGetting together over coffee with the moms in my daughter’s grade 6 class after the long Summer break, the topic quickly turned to how anxious some of our kids are ahead of the new school year. One mom told us about her boy who could not get to sleep as he worried so much about the next day – the first day of school.

Worries about new classroom dynamics, the new teacher, new rules, some new friends, new academic expectations and pressures top the list.

It’s normal for us all to feel anxious when we have to get out of our comfort zone.  I’m sure we all have memories of exams, presentations or performances at which we experience the sweaty palms, the pounding heart, the shaking hands and worst of all – the trouble remembering what you had learned.

A high level of anxiety in difficult situations can interfere with several aspects of cognition that are critical for successful learning and performance:

  • Paying attention to what needs to be learned
  • Processing information effectively (e.g., organizing or elaborating on it)
  • Retrieving information and demonstrating skills that have previously been learned