Education Minute #11 - Choosing Child Care

Education Minute #11 - Choosing Child Care

Today, I’d like to talk with you about choosing a quality early child care program. If you’re like me, the thought of putting your precious little one in a child care program gives you serious heart palpitations! I’d like to give you a few tips to help you find the right program to put your mind (and heart!) a bit more at ease.

It is important to go visit and observe a program before choosing it. When you go to visit, there are 8 things to consider:

  • Space and Furnishings
  • Personal Care Routines
  • Staff Education Level
  • Use of Language and Reasoning
  • Varied Classroom Activities
  • Teacher/child Interactions
  • Program Structure
  • Parent Supports

Remember too, that the results from a child care program’s state licensing visits are public records, so you can get a copy of a program’s licensing assessment to double check their track record.

And finally, trust your gut. You are your child’s first teacher. You know your little one best, and if an environment will be a good fit.


Education Minute #10 - Critical Thinking

Education Minute #10 - Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a crucial skill for living life. It is the ability to think independently, form your own opinions, and draw your own conclusions. Fostering this skill in your children is essential to their success in school, in careers, and in navigating society.

So how do we raise critical thinkers?

  1. Create a foundation of knowledge. Children can’t think critically if they do not have the information they need. Exposure to knowledge about a variety of topics equips them with the information to engage in critical thinking.
  2. Consistently engage your child by asking open-ended questions. This inspires them to brainstorm, analyze, and problem solve. Encourage them to ask questions also.
  3. Encourage Roleplaying. Becoming someone else requires children to stretch both their analytical and creative minds.
  4. Ask kids to consider alternative explanations and solutions to problems. It’s nice to get the right answer. When kids consider multiple solutions, they may become more flexible thinkers.
  5. Ask children to put concepts in their own words. This helps them understand, and to make concepts more concrete for them.
  6. Don’t confine critical thinking to just factual or academic material. Encourage children to reason about ethical, moral, and societal issues. This is important for raising conscious, socially responsible children.


Education Minute #9 - Encouraging Science

Education Minute #9 - Encouraging Science

Today let’s talk about science. Children are naturally curious. My kids ask me a million questions about every imaginable topic as they experience things in the world around them. You can take advantage of that curiosity to teach them about interesting scientific facts and wonders. A science-friendly household is one where children are encouraged to ask questions, think critically, experiment, create, and explain their reasoning to expand their learning.

  • It’s important to know that you don’t need to have answers for all of your child’s questions! Encourage children to develop their own science thinking skills by coming up with theories and testing them to get the right answer.
  • Engage your children in conversation about what they think about a scientific topic, and encourage them to explain why they think that way by asking open-ended questions.
  • If your children say something scientifically incorrect, help them discover for themselves what is correct rather than just giving them the right answer.
  • Do simple experiments at home using things you already have in your house.
  • Model curiosity by wondering out loud: “I wonder what will happen to this carrot top when we put it in water for a few days?”


Education Minute #8 - Summer Learning Loss

Education Minute #8 - Summer Learning Loss

Did you know that on average, students lose the equivalent of one month of learning during the summer? This phenomenon is called “summer learning loss.” Schools generally spend the first several weeks of the new school year re-teaching old skills so that students are prepared to learn new material. I have a few quick tips that will help you support your student to retain learning over the summer AND still have fun.

  • Utilize your local library! Set a goal for reading a certain number of books over the summer.
  • Go on field trips! Take the kids to your local art, history, and science museums, to the zoo, the farmer’s market, bakeries, or even factories that offer tours. Ask them to draw pictures or write stories about the favorite parts of their trips.
  • Cook together! Cooking provides great opportunities to reinforce math skills.
  • Have family game nights! Games like Taboo, Pictionary, Scrabble, and Boggle are tons of fun and keep kids’ minds sharp.
  • Travel the world without leaving home! Pick several countries to explore. Learn about their culture, history, and traditions. Try to cook an authentic recipe. Discuss what they’re most known for in the world.
  • And finally, take advantage of all the free and low-cost outdoor festivals and children’s learning activities happening in your city over the summer.

There are so many more things you can find to do with your children during the summer; this list is just the tip of the iceberg. Get creative, and enjoy the summer without sacrificing learning!


Education Minute #1 - Teaching Culture

Education Minute #1 - Teaching Culture

Learning to appreciate and respect the culture and backgrounds of others is an extremely important value for our children to learn. You can expose your children to the beauty and significance of other cultures in several ways:

  • Expand their knowledge by reading books
  • Go to cultural events sponsored by organizations in the community
  • Encourage friendships with those of different races, ethnicities, religious backgrounds, and abilities
  • Watch movies set in other cultures
  • Learn about positive influencers in different countries
  • Host an exchange student

Remember though that the most influential role model of cultural sensitivity and respect is YOU. Children become culturally sensitive and respectful when they see adults who display these same characteristics, and who are willing to stand against bias. Your actions can help to make the world a better place for everyone for generations to come.

Here are some great resources on teaching children about culture, race, and mutual respect:

Teaching Tolerance

PBS

PBS Learning Media


Education Minute #2 - Study Skills

Education Minute #2 - Study Skills

Today, let’s talk about strong study habits for high school and college students. As students get older, school gets more rigorous. Learning how to study effectively sets you up for success. Here are 10 pointers for improving study time.

1. Don't attempt to cram all your studying into one session. Plan more frequent, shorter study periods.

2. Plan when you're going to study, and never procrastinate your planned study time.

3. Create a consistent daily routine by studying at the same time.

4. Set specific goals for each study session based on your upcoming assignments and tests.

5. Start with the most difficult subject first.

6. Review your notes before starting an assignment.

7. Eliminate distractions while you are studying.

8. Take short breaks to stretch, get fresh air, or grab a snack.

9. Use study groups effectively.

10. Review your notes, schoolwork and other class materials over the weekend to prepare your mind for the coming week.


Education Minute #3 - Elementary Reading

Education Minute #3 - Elementary Reading

Let’s talk today about reading. Little kids love when we read to them. But sometimes it’s harder to keep them interested in books when they get older. To encourage elementary school students to read,

  • Turn books and reading into something special. Get their own library card, read with them, or buy them books as gifts.
  • Encourage reading multiple books by introducing your child to a book series or a favorite author.
  • Use a dictionary or dictionary app to look up and learn new words together.
  • Talk about everyday activities to build your child's background knowledge, which is crucial to listening and reading comprehension.
  • Encourage your child when writing. Remind him or her that writing involves several steps, and no one does it perfectly the first time.
  • Read different types of books to expose your child to different types of writing. Some kids, especially boys, prefer nonfiction books.
  • Use the time spent in the car for word play and conversations.


Education Minute #4 - Math Skills

Education Minute #4 - Math Skills

How many times have you heard someone say, “oh I’m just not a math person?”

The truth is that nobody is automatically a math person. A lot of the anxiety around math for kids can be alleviated by doing some simple things:

  • First, play math games or puzzles to teach concepts like logic, space, and money. This reduces some of the stress around learning.
  • Second, focus on helping your child to understand the logic of the math problem, not just on getting the right answer.
  • Third, teach your child that math isn’t about speed. It doesn’t matter how fast you got the answer. What matters is that you know how to do the problem correctly.
  • And finally, encourage a growth mindset. Nobody is just born being good at math. Even math geniuses had to take time to learn. Just like we exercise our physical muscles, we can exercise our mental muscles through effort to grow our math skills.

And who knows? You may just be raising the next Katherine Johnson!


Education Minute #5 - Multiple Intelligences

Education Minute #5 - Multiple Intelligences

Everyone has unique gifts and ways that they prefer to process information about the world around them. This is called multiple intelligences.

  • Does your child love to analyze information, and write poems? They’re displaying verbal-linguistic intelligence
  • Does your child enjoy making calculations and solving abstract problems? That’s a sign of logical-mathematical intelligence
  • Children who easily understand maps and graphical information have high visual-spatial intelligence
  • Children who distinguish among different types of plants, animals, or weather formations are tapping into their naturalistic intelligence
  • Musical intelligence is displayed when children are producing and making meaning of different types of sound.
  • Do you have a child uses their body or movement to create or solve problems? This is bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.
  • Children who seem to recognize and understand other people's moods, desires, motivations, and intentions have keen interpersonal intelligence.
  • And the ability to recognize and assess those same characteristics in themselves is called intrapersonal intelligence.

Learning is fluid and complex, and it’s important to avoid labeling children as one type of learner. It is useful, however, to think about the different ways that information can be presented. Providing children with multiple ways to demonstrate their knowledge really increases their engagement with learning both in school, and at home.

Want to learn more about your multiple intelligences? Click here to take a short multiple intelligences quiz. 


Education Minute #6 - The Importance of Music

Education Minute #6 - The Importance of Music

Our house is filled with music. It seems like there is always someone tinkering on the piano, strumming a guitar, or singing at the top of their lungs. Both listening to music and studying it have significant cognitive and social-emotional benefits.

  • Children who study music have larger vocabularies and more advanced reading skills.
  • Students who play instruments in middle and high school have higher proficiency in math and science.
  • High school students who participate in school music groups report lower use of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs.
  • Music also helps adolescents to release or control emotions, and helps them cope with difficult situations such as peer pressure, the dynamics of friendships and social life, the pressures of study and family, and the pain of loss or abuse.
  • Teens talk about music as a “social glue” and a bridge for building acceptance and tolerance for people of different ages and cultural backgrounds.

There are many free resources for exposing children to music theory, instruments, composers, and various musical genres. At school, students may also have the opportunity to sing in a choir or be introduced to an instrument. Private music lessons are also an option. No matter what you choose, exposing your kids to music yields many, many benefits.