Showing posts with label Chalk Talk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chalk Talk. Show all posts

Monday, April 18

CHALK TALK: Help Your Child Learn a Second Language

Learning a second language can be a challenging and daunting experience for adults. Children, however, are linguistic sponges soaking up all the sounds and vocabulary necessary to decipher and transmit meaning. With a growing global ethos and more opportunity than ever for people to travel outside their home country, foreign languages are taught or at least encouraged in most public and private elementary schools. Even if your child isn’t exposed to a foreign language during primary education, he or she will most likely be expected to fulfill high school and college foreign language requirements.

Scientists have proven that establishing proficiency in a second language becomes more difficult later in life. While experts say that a basic capacity for language is guaranteed in all infants, the interest and skill level beyond this baseline are differentially distributed depending on the individual. As a child acquires a specific language, he or she use the same brain tissue when acquiring a second language. However, this changes as the child’s brain matures and transitions into adulthood. Once the tissue initially used in language acquisition has matured, learning a second language becomes difficult because the brain utilizes a completely different area to learning and process the new language. Thus, for most adults, learning a new language is formidable and time consuming.

With the growing push for bi and multilingualism, preparing your child for a second language will only benefit as he or she begins formal education. Give them a boost by exposing your children to a second language at home! If you or your spouse speak another language fluently, frequently engage with your child in that language. If you are monolingual, learn a language with your child. There are hundreds of free and low-cost language learning applications such as Little Pim, Gus on the Go, and Kinder App, as well as audio files and books that can be purchased or borrowed from your local library. Expose your child to music, movies, and other digital media presented in a different language. Once your child has grasped some vocabulary, allow him or her to engage in cultural experiences. Attend a local festival or restaurant that is specific to the region of where the language is spoken. The key is repetition and stable exposure as your child begins to grasp the complexities of their native language and a second language.

Contributed by Rebecca Stokes, Fairmont Private Schools

Monday, March 7

CHALK TALK: Strategies for Strengthening Your Child's Reading Skills (And Yours, Too!)

Reading is a complex process of the brain. Language acquisition begins very early in infancy as children begin to make sounds. As an infant’s brain begins to catalog and interpret sounds, the child creates the foundation of language and lays the groundwork for communication, cognition, and eventual reading. Once a child becomes phonemically aware, he or she will begin to connect letters to their corresponding sounds. This is tricky due to the fact that the English language is made up of 44 sounds and only 26 letters. Next, a child will begin to recognize sounds and blend them to create words.

When we read, several different sections of the brain are used in sequence to parse out meaning. These sections simultaneously link phonics, fluency, and comprehension, decoding and determining the meaning behind lines of words. Once a person has developed the necessary skills, reading is a function of the brain that only takes a matter of seconds. The reading process can be broken into five basic steps:
  1. The brain sees shapes on a page.
  2. The brain recognizes them as letters.
  3. The brain recalls the sounds represented by the letters.
  4. The brain blends the sounds to form words.
  5. The brain extrapolates meaning from the words and punctuation making up the sentence.  

The process of reading is quickened and perfected over time with proper practice. Frequent and consistent reading exercises the brain, improving memory and mental cognition. Work with your child at home to improve their reading and communicative skills!

Read Aloud - Take turns reading aloud with your child. Even for adults, reading out loud helps to improve text comprehension and speech fluency. Another idea is to listen to audiobooks which are handy during stagnant stretches of time (e.g. in the car or waiting room).

Quality Over Quantity - Reading quickly rushes the complex mental hoops that a person’s brain must jump through. Experts encourage both adults and children to read at a slow and steady pace to boost comprehension. When reading is done at a furious pace, many of its benefits (e.g. vocabulary building and meaning comprehension) are lost.

Write, Journal, Compose - Encourage your child to keep a reading journal or to simply write freely. Writing and reading go hand-in-hand and exercise the brain in similar fashions. Fostering the connections between creating words with sounds, and creating meaning through words, is very impactful when children are honing their reading skills. The same is true for adults.

Discussion - When reading with your child, pause for a discussion. Host a book club meeting for you and your child to talk about the characters and events of a story. Engage in a conversation about the actions a character took, situations that occurred within the book, etc. Talking about a text helps to determine reading comprehension, test memory and vocabulary, and also helps children become more equipped to engage in academic dialogue, prepping them for higher education.

Make Time - Schedule a designated reading time for you and your child each day. Lead by example and ensure that your child can see you actively reading. If you establish reading as a habit, your child’s interest and ability will increase over time.

Contributed by Rebecca Stokes, Fairmont Private Schools
Image by Daily Genius

Monday, January 11

CHALK TALK: What is “Coding” and is it Important?

 Computer code is the language of the 21st Century. It has invaded and transformed our lives in a multitude of ways, from communications and banking, to transportation, and even eating. Yes, microwaves are computers, too! An invisible language of streaming code surrounds us everyday, making our lives easier and more efficient. Simply put, code are literal instructions for any device with a computer. Thus, coding is simply telling the computer, step-by-step, exactly what you want it to do.

The importance of computer science and people who can read and write computer code grows everyday as technology changes and new ideas emerge. Many computer programmers liken the skill of coding to a language that everyone should be fluent in. Much like verbal and written communication, it is now pertinent that people familiarize themselves with the language of the computers that share in our daily lives. While code is complex, Tamara Hudgins, executive director of Girlstart, states that “[l]earning to code is not hard. Can you write a sentence? It’s essentially the same. You learned a linguistic convention just as every user of a language does.”

So, is it important for my child to learn about coding? Absolutely. The International Business Times suggests that “coders [are] the architects and builders of the digital age.” The IBT also estimates that in nine years there will be an estimated 1.4 million computer science jobs, but only 400,000 qualified college graduates to fill the positions. With the projected increase of computer-based jobs, children learning to code while in school are getting a jumpstart on building skills for technology fields. However, coding teaches more than just a computer’s language. The purpose behind coding is to solve a problem and create an easier way for a task to be accomplished, placing great emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving. Two skills that are important to learn no matter what field a student chooses to focus on in the future.

Young adults with skills in coding and computer programming are already in high demand and the need will only increase as we further our use of computers in daily life. Peak your child’s interest with these great coding resources, tutorials, and online games!

Contributed by Rebecca Stokes, Fairmont Private Schools

Wednesday, August 26

CHALK TALK: Study Habits for Junior High Students

Transitioning from elementary school into junior high can be slightly daunting. The academic and behavioral expectations are different and the amount of homework is bound to increase. But junior high doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming. Encouraging good study habits is a great way to ensure that your student is succeeding academically, as well as potentially improving his or  attitude towards classroom learning. It’s important to remember that a student’s success builds self-confidence, which inspires the student’s eagerness to learn.

Developing strong study habits in your junior high student is the best way to prepare him or her for success in higher education. To begin, observe your student while he or she does homework or prepares for a test. Look specifically at the kinds of notes that your child takes during class. Are the notes organized, or simply a random collection of words? If your student has little sense of organization when jotting down class material, this is the best place to start.

Talk to your child about potential organization strategies such as outline structures and highlighting. Encourage your child to adopt a format of notetaking that is meaningful and memorable to him or her. Students who participate in notetaking strategies while in class are more likely to be engaged with the conversation or lecture, and the act of writing or typing helps to ingrain the facts and ideas into the student’s memory. Once your student adopts a method of notetaking, show him or her how to highlight or color-code important keywords and phrases. Warn your student about over highlighting. When a student highlights more than necessary, nothing significant stands out on the page.

Now that your student is getting older, create a study space where he or she is able to have access to all study supplies and can spread out textbooks and notes. Providing your student with a small office desk in a place with the least distractions will help aid the study process. Also, if your child’s school doesn’t require students to have a planner or online assignment calendar, purchase a planner for your child and spur him or her to keep track of assignments and due dates. If your child uses an electronic device to enhance studying, choose a free notetaking or organizer application such as myHomework or Evernote to keep track of notes and due dates.  

Finally, another large component of fostering good study habits lies in the student’s ability to manage his or her time wisely. A planner helps aids this process, however junior high students need to learn to prioritize their daily tasks effectively. Develop an after-school routine where your child is able to participate in extracurricular activities, but understands that time must be devoted to homework.

Taking the time to understand your student’s daily routine and expectations in the classroom will better help you to help your junior high student succeed in high school and beyond!

Contributed by Rebecca Stokes, Fairmont Private Schools
Image by
Fairmont Private Schools

Wednesday, July 15

CHALK TALK: preparing your child for kindergarten, part 6 - enthusiasm for learning

The final piece of our kindergarten preparation puzzle is fostering your preschooler’s enthusiasm for learning. Providing unconditional support and encouragement helps a child develop a love of learning. Playing an active role in your child’s education reinforces the value that academic knowledge is worth pursuing. Show them that learning is a great adventure!

Your child looks to you for clues about the world. Because you are your child’s first and most influential teacher, you can encourage your child’s advancement in the classroom by positively reinforcing the information and skills your student is learning in school. Whether reading a book before bed or trying a new recipe together, taking the time to develop skills and build your child’s knowledge will help encourage a curiosity and hunger for learning.

Boost your child’s confidence by letting him or her know that it’s okay to ask questions. Helping your preschooler to feel confident in the classroom tremendously aides the learning process because the child already feels accomplished and able. Determine what kind of learner your child is - auditory, visual, or kinesthetic - and use that knowledge to aid your child’s academic progression while doing activities and projects at home. Visit Different Learning Styles in Education and past Fairmont blog post HOW TO: discover your child's learning style for more learning style information and activities!

Taking an active role in your child’s education and encouraging him or her from the sidelines will help foster academic growth and fuel a desire to learn and accomplish more!

Contributed by Rebecca
Stokes, Fairmont Private Schools

Image by MarchIntoKindergarten.Com

Wednesday, July 8

CHALK TALK: preparing your child for kindergarten, part 5 - playing well with others

As your child becomes more social with other children, it’s important to help him or her learn to engage positively with peers. Providing the child with the right tools to handle different social situations will help reinforce values related to playing well with others. Here are some tips for this important life lesson:

  • Play-dates - Whether it’s a parents-of-preschoolers group or signing your child up for a sports or dance class, there are plenty of opportunities in your community to help children socialize. The more opportunities for children to play together, the faster they will develop the necessary social skills needed in the classroom.
  • Golden Rule - Teaching children to treat others as they want to be treated is an important step towards explaining the abstract concept of respect. Remember, your child doesn’t have to like everyone, but he or she does need to show respect to everyone.
  • Team Activities - Involving your child in team activities will help foster his or her ability to work collectively with others. Including your child in household chores and projects, establishing a weekly game night, or enrolling him or her in a sports activity, allows your child to engage with others to accomplish a specific task, which helps them learn the value of connecting with others.
  • “I Need a Break” - Let your child know that it’s okay to say “I need a break” and to walk away from frustrating or hurtful situations. What to Do When Your Child Won’t Play Well with Others states that “[w]hen kids are frustrated and feeling like they want to lash out at others around them, this simple sentence can be a way for them to back out of the situation and signal to the adults around them that they need a little time alone.”
  • Kind Words - Encourage proper manners and the use of “Please,” “Thank you,” “Excuse me,” and “Sorry” when your child is interacting with others. These simple practices in etiquette will take your child far as he or she begins to make friends.

How to Help Your Child Make Friends notes that leading by example and inviting your friends over for activities is a good way to demonstrate social skills and the importance of friendship to your children. Visit Fairmont’s Early Childhood Education Pinterest board to find more great resources for preparing your preschooler for kindergarten!

Contributed by Rebecca Stokes, Fairmont Private Schools

Image by Aprendoyeduco.Com 

Wednesday, July 1

CHALK TALK: preparing your child for kindergarten, part 4 - building oral language skills

Being an effective communicator is an important component to everyday life, which is why helping your child build oral language skills is vital to their development. Teaching little ones to effectively communicate verbally is an important step in growing up. Below are several benchmarks for children entering kindergarten:
  1. Politely converse with peers and initiate conversation with adults
  2. Show a steady increase in vocabulary
  3. Use adjectives in conversation
  4. Communicate specific needs, such as “I am hurt” or “I need to use the restroom”
Though there are many communication skills for children to learn, incorporating some of these activities will aid their progression:

  • Read, Read, Read - Reading to your child is an excellent vocabulary building exercise. Encourage your child to ask questions about words that he or she does not understand. Be sure to take time to pause while reading to ask critical thinking questions such as “Do you think that character made the right choice?”
  • Be the Example - Remember that when you communicate with others in front of your child, you are setting an example. When children observe adults following the rules of conversation (taking turns talking, speaking in calm tones, not interrupting), they will imitate.
  • Incorporate New Words - Children are constantly absorbing new words and phrases. Use these new words in context during a regular conversation. This repetition, along with providing examples to show how the word is used in a sentence, will not only help your child commit the word and its definition to memory, but will also encourage your child to use new words when talking with others.
  • Play “I Spy” - Playing “I Spy” with your child will help him or her develop spatial awareness and learn to describe location, color, and size. Encourage your child to add more details to the game by listing certain attributes such as “I spy something green on the floor near the table.”
  • Talk About Feelings - When your child is upset, ask him or her to describe their feelings. Helping to identify specific emotions and learning to handle them is a very effective communication tool for children and adults alike.
  • Tell Stories - Set aside some time to tell stories with your child. Begin by telling your own short, imaginative story, then encourage your child to do the same. Ask questions once the story ends, like “What color was the giant fish?,” or “What would have happened if this character did this instead?” Asking questions will help your child focus on recalling specific elements of the story and providing more clarification.

As children progress through their education, the ability to clearly articulate ideas becomes more prevalent and follows them into adulthood. All children learn at their own pace, but be sure to encourage their learning and growth by taking some time each day to help foster these communication skills.

Visit the Fairmont Early Childhood Education Pinterest board for more great ideas for your young learner!

Contributed by Rebecca Stokes, Fairmont Private Schools

Image by Karate of Mansfield   

Wednesday, June 24

CHALK TALK: preparing your child for kindergarten, part 3 - developing fine motor skills

The foundation of learning is rooted in fine motor skills. This includes being able to write, use scissors, and manipulate small objects. You can aid in this development by having simple items on hand such as dry pasta, tissue paper, playdough, buttons, and rice that will keep your preschooler’s mind and fingers working together! Try some of these simple activities at home:

  • Involve your child in the kitchen and task them with measuring and stirring. Children will learn to scoop, pour, and stir using spoons and measuring cups. Not only does this boost motor skills, but fosters confidence in your child as he or she discovers that you value their help.
  • Create a sensory bin by partially filling a container with rice or sand, then burying small items such as buttons, coins, small toys, and macaroni. Encourage your child to dig for the items with a spoon and remove them from the bin with a clothespin.
  • Purchase safety scissors and allow your child to practice cutting different kinds of paper. Supply him or her with newspaper, recycled printer paper, and tissue paper. The different materials will help your child determine a sense of pressure and cutting strength when using different types of paper.  Also, be sure to help your child focus on gripping the scissors correctly.
  • Draw large, simple shapes on recycled paper and have your child tear the paper along the shape’s edges. This will also foster fine motor skills, concentration, and shape identification.
  • Find some string and large beads for your preschooler to thread. This will not only help boost their fine motor skills, but provides a great teaching moment for identifying colors, shapes, and patterns. An alternative to this exercise is to punch holes into a paper plate and number the holes with a marker. Have your child numerically thread a long piece of string through the corresponding holes.
  • Create a sensory board to help your child learn to open and close specific items. Incorporating shoelaces, velcro strips, clothing zippers, and other materials will help him or her acclimate to getting dressed and tying shoes by themselves.
  • Encourage your child to draw and color. The more exposure to holding a writing utensil, the more prepared your child will be for learning to write with a pencil. As with scissors, ensure that your child is gripping the writing utensils correctly.

When focusing on fine motor skills, your child is not only preparing his or herself to write in the classroom, but is also engaging creatively with different shapes and colors. For more fine motor tips, reference THE FAIRMONT FIVE: Developing Fine Motor Skills or visit the Fairmont Early Childhood Education Pinterest board!

Contributed by Rebecca Stokes, Fairmont Private Schools

Images by Occupational Therapy Consulting LLC, Joy Anderson, Lipstick Alley, How We Montessori, and Vicki Clinebell

Wednesday, June 17

CHALK TALK: preparing your child for kindergarten, part 2 - following directions

As discussed in the previous blog, a preschooler’s ability to actively listen and carry out instructions is one of the key indicators that the student is ready to progress to kindergarten. While it’s not uncommon for preschoolers to occasionally struggle with carrying out instructions, here are some great tips to prepare your child: 
  • Use Keywords - If you find you’re having to repeat instructions, try using just one or two words to direct your child. Instead of saying “Please take your plate to the sink when you’re done,” try saying “Plate to the sink” in an encouraging tone when your child has almost finished eating. You may find that a one-word reminder will get your child’s attention quicker than repeating directions over and over. 
  • Helping Hands - Ask your child for help in the kitchen or while doing other light chores. Giving your child simple directions about making a sandwich or sorting laundry will help foster confidence and knowledge, as well as encourage him or her to follow directions. It’s advisable to give your child no more than three steps to complete a task. 
  • Treasure Hunt - Ask you child to retrieve specific items from around the house such as a yellow sponge or two blue shoes. The child will have to concentrate on the task for at least a minute, encouraging him or her to focus. For an added challenge, create a small obstacle course that your child must complete before bringing the item to you. This might include running three circles around the tree, hopping over the garden hose, then somersaulting. If you have more than one child, this treasure hunt can be turned into a fun race!
Helping your child learn to follow directions will help ensure a rewarding classroom experience. Following directions directly correlates with fostering independence. Once a child has mastered a set of directions, they can be trusted to complete the task on their own. This builds self-reliance and self-confidence, both of which are important as children grow and develop. Visit Fairmont’s Early Childhood Education Pinterest board for more great ideas and tips!

Contributed by Rebecca
Stokes, Fairmont Private Schools

 Image Contributed by Everyday Life

Wednesday, June 10

CHALK TALK: helping your child prepare for kindergarten, part 1 - developing good listening skills

How will you know when your child is ready for kindergarten? What skills are essential for succeeding in the classroom? This six-part series will help prepare your preschool student for kindergarten. Buckle your seatbelt and prepare for the rewarding road to elementary school!

Early childhood education teachers have observed six main skill sets that are common in children who have successfully transitioned to kindergarten. The first of these is the ability to be a good listener. Good listening skills are vital, and children who have developed this skill are more apt to follow directions, interact respectfully with adults and peers, and contribute to a positive learning environment. The good news is that listening is a skill that can be developed over time. Here are some activities to do at home:
  • Play games such as “Simon Says,” “Red Light, Green Light,” and “I Spy” to help your child focus on listening and responding appropriately.
  • Interactive reading will encourage critical thinking and gauge how much information your child is retaining. While reading aloud, pause and ask questions such as “What do you think will happen next?” or “Do you think that was a good idea?”
  • Sit quietly outside with your child to identify sounds. This is a great way to teach children to be still and concentrate in order to listen properly.   

Another key to creating a good listener is by setting a positive example. Demonstrating active listening while your child talks will model what their response should be when adults or peers are speaking. Using proper eye contact, body language, and voice tone while conversing will help your child understand how to engage properly in a social setting.  

Incorporating games that encourage children to react with words or actions will help them develop a sense of what it means to be an active listener and encourage appropriate behavior in the classroom. Tune in next Monday to learn some handy tips for teaching your child to follow directions!

Contributed by Rebecca
Stokes, Fairmont Private Schools

Image by Sharon Skelton