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1. Make Writing Family Time
Write to your child every day. Create a family Journal for daily responses about you day.
2. Celebrate Early Writing
Two-year-old scribbles – it’s writing! Strings of letters – it’s writing! Celebrate it! Hang it up! Read aloud what they said it says!
3. Let your child see you write.
When you’re in a rush to head out the door and are scribbling down a grocery list – and your preschooler hangs over your shoulder and asks what you’re doing – take a second. Show him.
Let them know that you also write daily.
4. Provide a great variety of writing tools and surfaces for writing, and give your child easy access to them.
Give your children pens, chalk, paint, and markers. Get big pads of newsprint, a chalkboard, or a dry erase board. When your child knows her letters, put her at the computer. Make the font big and bright, and let them type.
5. Create a writing space.
Set up a quiet corner for your child to write. If space is an issue, pack writing materials into a portable container that your child can pull out at the kitchen table. Include pens and pencils, pads of paper and envelopes, a notebook, and a spelling dictionary appropriate for your child’s age.
6. Schedule quality writing time into your day.
Don’t put a writing prompt in front of your child and call that teaching writing. While prompts can serve a useful purpose, the focus of your writing time should be short mini-lessons and plenty of time for independent writing.
What’s a mini-lesson?
a) Teach your child how to stretch out a word and write its sounds from its syllables.
b) Teach your child how to brainstorm writing ideas.
c) Teach your child to reread his/her work – Why? Because everyone makes mistakes!
Give your child writing time as often as you can. Remember frequent writing develops the habit of writing.
Enjoy your January writing crate!
The end of October brings cooler temperatures, a harvest of plenty, and one of childhood’s favorite celebrations — Halloween! This year, add excitement to the seasonal fun and frolic in your home with some of these educational activities.
Parents can encourage their children to come with their own costume idea. Kids can to pull from history, stories of mad monsters and fairy tales. For example, if your child wants to dress as a superhero, instead of picking one that already exists, ask them what their super power might be. Having your child assemble a robot hand will delight their imagination of Frankenstein. Encouraging them to go with their own character is a great exercise for the brain in terms of creativity and imagination.
Did you know the human body has over 200 bones? With Halloween approaching it would be a fun time to explore the human skeleton. Learn about the skeletal system by crafting a skeleton. Kids will jump at the opportunity to make an actual replica skeleton and naming the major bones.
The perfect thing after a long night of trick-or-treating is to curl up amidst that pile of scrumptious candy and listen to tales of fun and fright! Ripley’s Believe It or Not books offer strange and hilarious facts of all types.
No matter how old your children are, Halloween offers a way to bring out the kid in everyone and still teach valuable skills!
Look inside this month’s box for our spooky educational surprises and have yourself a safe
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As we continue our venture into this summer season, it’s time to tackle the issue of the added stress it can have for families. With these three *Summer Survival* tips we hope to make the remainder of your summer more of a dream than a struggle.
1. Summer is the perfect time to encourage Self-Directed Learning.
*Create a learning space that encourages independence. If you want your children to be independent then you need to make sure your home is set up so they are able to be. Are their belongings kept where they can access them without your help? Do they have free access to learning materials and art supplies so they can utilize them whenever inspiration strikes?
*Let them answer their own questions. When a new interest arises and there are questions upon questions, instead of just giving them the answers, try to encourage them to research themselves. You might ask:
‘What do you think?’
‘How do you think we could find out?’
‘Where could we look for the answer?’
‘Who could we ask about this?’
‘Where could we go to see this in real life?
Set out materials with a resource on their current interest to encourage them to explore that interest further.
2. Avoid brain drain during the summer. Don’t let your child’s gray matter turn into mush. Here are some fun and easy brain-strengthening tips to keep their synapses firing all summer long.
*Have your child learn to play a musical instrument. Studies show that learning to play a new instrument is complex and over a long period of time it is ideal for strengthening the mind.
*Get Moving. You can do simple exercises with your child like sitting and touching your right elbow to your left knee. Do this five times and then do left elbow to right knee. Repeat several times. Go old school and have the kids play outside. Send them out with minimal toys and see what they come up with. Kids of all ages like bubbles, running through sprinklers and body paints. Have an old-fashioned water balloon fight or watermelon eating contest.
3. Limit Technology
*One of the quickest ways to watch the summer slip through your fingers and spend your days with combative and grouchy kids, is to let technology take over. Technology is a part of life and there are so many benefits to its usage, but too much will hurt us. Make it clear how much technology is allowed each day so that things don’t get out of control. Some families like to allow their kids to earn their technology by doing extra work around the house and yard. Or by doing extra things to serve and help others. However you decide to monitor your technology, be mindful of the time your kids are spending in front of it.
Summer is a great time to relax and not worry about the pressures of school but you also don’t want your children to lose ground on what they have learned throughout the school year. To preserve learning outcomes and prevent the ‘summer slide’ there are many ways to keep things playful and stress-free while traveling on the road with your children or while staying at home. Below are perfect opportunities for bonding with your child and to casually squeeze in summer learning.
Start a family book club. Reading is one of the most important skills to maintain and develop. Family member’s take turns reading the same book and then meeting to discuss what they liked and did not like. This is a great way to create family bonding time and enhance your child’s critical thinking skills. Be sure to stay up to date with the activities at your local library, which provides fun and sociable learning opportunities.
Let them be your travel agents. Are you going away this summer? If so, put your children in charge of planning at least one aspect of the trip. Give them maps, brochures and guides, and see how they use their skills to figure out a plan. Let them help you search for lodging within your budget and in the area you want to stay. Together, you can learn about nearby attractions and plan your visit accordingly. The entire process not only builds confidence, but serves as a finance, geography, history and social studies lesson all wrapped in one.
Make the most out of ‘carschooling.’ I remember traveling with cookie sheets and a plastic tote filled with goodies for my children. Easily held on a lap, a cookie sheet can be used as a surface for playing magnetic games like tic tac toe, playing word games like Mad Libs, and glow-in-the-dark toys (when traveling at night). It’s an inexpensive alternative to a car-seat lap desk, and when it’s not in use, it fits in the back pocket of the seat. Give each child their own notebook and a few pages of stickers and let them make their own creations.
Have a scavenger hunt at the museum. One way to turn a visit to the museum into a fun and educational experience is to make it a scavenger hunt. If you’re going to an art museum, your list can include things you might see in paintings or sculptures from a certain country. If it’s a natural history museum, you can include fossils and animals on your list.
Make something. While there are plenty of kits out there to promote STEM learning skills, you can encourage your children to use their creativity and knowledge to build projects from common household materials. Some classic examples of this would be making a raft out of empty milk cartons or plastic bottles, a homemade volcano using vinegar and baking soda or a homemade electromagnet.
Become a collector. A great way for children to get hands-on knowledge of the natural world is for them to build a collection while discovering the outdoors. Rocks, plants, bugs – these are the things that excite a young mind. Search for different kinds of leaves to press at home, then work with your children to identify their types.
Put simply, kids need to keep their wheels turning. Without ongoing opportunities to learn and practice essential skills, kids fall behind on measures of academic achievement over the summer months.
Summer presents an untapped opportunity – a time of year when youth and families seek enriching summertime experiences and these opportunities help ensure summer learning gain rather than loss.
Check out the “Are we there yet?” box from MyEduCrate
This box deserves 5 out of 5 stars! As a former teacher, I thoroughly enjoyed the activities. They were engaging, challenging, and provided hours of fun and learning. This would be a great resource for homeschool families and for parents who want to enrich their child’s learning at home. Great for keeping kids entertained during school breaks.
Children learn best through their everyday experiences with the people they love and trust, and when the learning is fun. As a public school teacher, I know that raising children who love to learn doesn’t happen by accident. Many families do all that we can to foster and nurture learning in the earliest years of a child’s life, as well we should. But when our children begin spending their days in the classroom, we aren’t off the hook! Continuing to build a home where learning is nurtured and valued is one of the best ways we can equip our children for life after graduation.
Here are some practical ways to support learning at home:
READ, READ, READ- Study after study confirms that homes that create a culture devoted to literacy are the homes from which the most academically successful students come forth. Look for books that might excite your child to want to learn more. Reading a book is the springboard for all kinds of enrichment possibilities: math, science, social studies, art.
EXPLORE EDUCATIONAL APPROACHES-If you’ve never done so before, take some time to explore different approaches to education. Children learn in a variety of ways –There are three main cognitive learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. The beauty of a learning-rich home is that parents can supplement their child’s learning in a way that meets their specific educational needs!
PROVIDE BALANCE TO AND SUPPLEMENT FOR CLASSROOM CURRICULUM-Ask your child what he would have like to know more about and explore those topics together! A trip to a natural science museum. A particularly fascinating work of literature might encourage a little digging to discover what popular culture was like at the time that piece was written. A unit on the color red could initiate a neighborhood scavenger hunt for all things red. Listening and responding to a child’s interests helps further instill the idea that learning is fun and is never, ever limited to a classroom.
COLLECT HOME LEARNING MATERIALS-Homes where learning is emphasized contain tools that encourage education. Build a home library. Invest in a diverse music collection. Display prints of famous artworks next to framed pieces of your child’s own art. Play board games that encourage critical thinking. Fill blank spaces with good words and clever thoughts signs that make everyone in the family stop and think. The number of ways to fill your home with the stuff of learning is limited only by your imagination, and you will never be disappointed by the returns on these investments!
Truly, the best way we can instill in our children the importance of learning for the sake of learning is to be life-long learners ourselves. As you go about your days spent with children at home, model for them the joy and fulfillment that comes from learning new things all the time.
I know first-hand the temptation in thinking that school is where my children learn and home is where we play. The truth is, a playful approach to learning all the time is one of the very best ways we can equip our children for lifelong success.
What schooling choices have you made for your children, and how do you create an environment for learning at home?
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