This week, we will be off Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Day of Service. The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Jan. 20, 2020, marks the 25th anniversary of the day of service that celebrates the Civil Rights leader's life and legacy. In 1983, in the Washington Post, his wife Coretta Scott King wrote "The holiday must be substantive as well as symbolic. It must be more than a day of celebration . . . Let this holiday be a day of reflection, a day of teaching nonviolent philosophy and strategy, a day of getting involved in nonviolent action for social and economic progress."
Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. The Corporation for National and Community service has been charged to lead this effort for the last quarter century.
Looking for a way to service your community this MLK Day? Click the link below to search for volunteer opportunities your families can use to reflect, serve, and commemorate.
Children are faced with many decisions to make, both at home and at school. sometimes we talk about how these emotions "get the best of us". what does it really mean for that to happen? It means that their emotions, strong or not, affect their decision making. Even when a child's emotions are very strong, they may still make good decisions,. We can help by adults modeling how to make good decisions, even when we are angry. and by talking that through with our children.
Ask your child to describe a time when he or she was angry or upset. Together, talk about the kinds of good decisions your child can make the next time his or her emotions are that strong.
M:How was your day?
M: Did you have fun?
M: what did you learn?
Sometimes getting your child to talk is hard! Maybe they are young and need to practice language more. Maybe they are older and tired! One strategy to help have better conversations with your children is open-ended questions.
A Question like “What color is that block?” evokes a one-word answer. But an open-ended question, “Tell me about the blocks you are using,” encourages a child to describe the blocks or explain what she is doing. There is no right or wrong answer here.
An answer to an open-ended question gives us a window into what the child is thinking and feeling. And the response is sometimes wonderfully creative. In explaining or describing, children also use language more fully.
It is difficult to change the closed-ended-question habit. But when we ask open-ended questions, children reap great benefits as they think through their responses to express what they want to say. And with their answers, we find out more about what they want to say. And with their answers, we find out more about what they think and feel.
M:Tell me about this (math test, notebook, essay)
K: Well we did this 3rd period. Here, look at this....
Active learning means taking advantage of a child's natural desire to explore through touch and sight. All children love to manipulate environments, items, and objects. The love seeing how things work and testing their own hypothesis of how they think things work.
You can support the energetic process of active learning by allowing time and space fo it! Making sure your kids get lots of opportunities to investigate what interests them—doing so allows them to solve problems, understand relationships about the world, and explore new interests.
Children use all their senses to make discoveries during active learning: how heavy, how large, how tiny is it? Does it smell good or bad? What makes that smell? In various environments, how will it sound (being dropped, being hit, being opened, being smashed)? What else sounds like that? How is it different from the other items? Focusing on more than just sight allows them to be more active and make more sense of the world.
Children who engage in active learning have the chance to become better learners. For example, active learning will help them later write better. It takes very refined movement of the hands and fingers to produce the penmanship required for writing. Squeezing clay, picking up puzzle pieces, and lacing threads through beads are ways for young children to practice using hands and fingers. Children without these experiences work harder to learn to write and to become proficient writers.
The next time you want your child to learn about something, provide the materials, space, and time. Then step back and watch. You will be surprised at how much more the child will discover through active involvement!
One of my favorite things to do in my spare time is crochet and dance. I'm not an expert at either, but that doesn't matter. I'm not trying to be. I just doing something I find enjoyable. Parents choose hobbies such as dance, crochet, golf, and swimming because we find it enjoyable. We also have some control over the time we spend in our hobby, and we see the opportunities for success. Success might mean under par, a completed blanket, or a beautiful garden.
Children too learn best when they have some control over their activities and play! MAybe they are choosing between toys or between opportunities, but they need that sense of control within the boundaries you set for them.
These choices empower children to take control of their own learning. Children use materials and equipment in far more creative and innovative ways than we could ever plan, and they use the materials in ways that meet their own developmental needs. So instead of asking your child if they want to color, provide materials of a few varieties and see what they come up with.
Research indicates that intrinsic motivation – when we work on a task just because we find it enjoyable – is the most effective and engaging way to learn. Providing more choices when your child does homework, plays with toys, or reads for pleasure is a key way you can support intrinsic motivation!
Instead of screen time, especially when you and your children are at home, encourage your child to play!
Over the past 50 years, much research has demonstrated the powerful impact of play on your child's later learning. These benefits are for children’s intellectual, social, emotional, physical, and language development. When children become immersed in play, the create themes, explore environments, solve problems, and developing shared understandings about the world around them!
You will observe your child play differently depending on the situation. They may play with other children in "parallel play", meaning next to each other but each paying attention to their own "toys" (objects, context, environment). They also may play cooperatively, taking on different roles or imaginary scenarios. All kinds of play are valuable!
Another reason play is so important is empathy. Through play, children learn the value of others' points of view and others' perspectives. This makes them more caring. They even learn to appreciate others' values and cultures through play. They learn to experiment and get better at language as they interact with their friends. They learn build their fine and gross motor skills. They grow their hand eye coordination.
You can support your child's play by providing space, opportunity, and materials. Make sure you choose spaces where kids can play without fear of damaging furniture or injuring themselves. Give the child time to become engaged in their own play activities of their own choice.
Play is fun. But it also is serious learning that pays off big time when it is time for children to do more formal learning!
Children seem to be full of anxiety over making mistakes. Making mistakes and failing can feel bad, but they’re also an opportunity to get better at something. Encourage your child to think about ways to get better using these techniques: asking for help, using a new strategy, and working harder.
Ask your child to describe a personal experience that involved making a mistake or failing at something. Together think about how that experience can be used as an opportunity to get better. Talk about a time you failed at something and how you learned from the experience.
Over the years, your child's friend group has probably changed. This is because as your child grows, they are exploring the values he or she wants in a friend. This will help your child make new friends and be a better friend to others. You can be supportive by asking your child about his or her friends, including what he or she likes about them.
As your child progresses through middle school and high school, your child will learn ways to make new friends. This can help your child build positive relationships with his or her peers. One way to provide support is to tell your child about a friend you made when you were younger, and explain how you became friends with this person. Ask your child how he or she makes friends at school, and what can sometimes make it difficult.
Making new friends can cause much anxiety. Joining an activity in which your child has no friends can be a struggle. You can help alleviate this anxiety by telling your child about a time you made a new friend. Explain what you did and how you did it. Ask your child if there’s someone he or she would like to make friends with and how he or she will do so.
Values are things you believe are important in the way you live, work, parent, or learn. Your child also has their own set of values, things they value, or believe are important. As your child explores and thinks about their values, they will be exploring and expanding their own identity. This is great because they can use their values to help them make good decisions. While not exhaustive, here is a list of values.
You can support this by asking your child about some of his or her values. Talk about how his or her values are similar to or different from yours. Encourage your child in thinking about how his or her values can help make school a place where everyone feels safe and welcome.
Think of a group your child belongs to outside of school. Ask your child how thinking about his or her values can help him or her be a positive influence on this group.
This week I had a chance to meet with the 7th grade team to talk about student goal setting, and we focused on If-then plans. We are working on helping your child to learn how to use If–Then Plans for making positive choices in difficult situations. Research shows this is a great way for students to prepare for difficult situations before they happen.
Ask your child what an If–Then Plan is. Work together to make a plan for one of their personal goals. See how your child can respond positively to a difficult situation he or she might encounter at home.
Erin Rae is the Curriculum Coordinator at Lockport 91.
Copyright 2016. All Rights Reserved.