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Posted by on in What If?

A nearby community has a wonderful, play-based preschool cooperative. Several of the teachers are my former students and I was invited to attend their monthly meetings whenever I could… joining in conversations with staff and families about child development, preschool, parenting… life.

I’ve been to 4 of these sessions and so far, it’s been interesting to hear the kinds of things that concern both preschool teachers and parents.

Last Monday night, a mother told us about her oldest son, who was now in his second month of Kindergarten, having just turned 5 the day before he started. She said that although he had attended preschool three days a week prior, her son was having a difficult time transitioning to what the public school system was dishing out… moving into 5 full days a week, 8 hours a day. Besides the number and length of his days, it was also the intensity. He had to be fully engaged in academics the entire time, even during lunch. There was no “pause button” to his day. This was having a noticeable impact on him, both physically and emotionally. When he got home, she explained, she’d find him sprawled on the floor, exhausted. Being overtired wreaked havoc on his emotions and the emotional climate of their home. He was cranky and whiny, and often just started crying.

child misbehaving discipline 3

This mom was searching for some answers or any kind of help to smooth her son’s way into dealing with his daily school routine.

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Posted by on in What If?

Probably one of the best predictors of a child’s success in life is strong self-confidence and self-esteem. They will set high goals for themselves and believe they can achieve anything they set their minds to. This is an outcome we all want for our children, but for some, it may not come so easy. High self-esteem is acquired and is not genetic. It is built a little at a time through their relationships with adults and other children. Life environments vary and support for self-worth and confidence does, too. Children living with trauma, for example, can be devoid of any support at all. A child who lacks confidence and a positive self-image may need an extra boost… or two or three. We can be intentional in providing support as we go through the day.

responsibilities

1. Give her some responsibilities and expect follow through. When a job is completed successfully, she will feel more confident and happy with herself. She will also have some good practice with her problem-solving skills. Our responsibility in all of this is to lavish encouragement and always praise her for doing such a good job.

2. Let her make her own decisions. Provide age-appropriate choices whenever possible. These can be simple- like choosing between putting away the dishes or the dolls at clean-up time. Allowing her to decide something for herself strengthens her confidence and sets the foundation for the times she’ll need to make more complex choices in the future.

3. Make sure the goals you set are realistic. Decide along with the child what the goals will be and ensure they are achievable. Confidence in herself will only be built if she can reach them.

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Posted by on in What If?

mister rogers

Most of us watched Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood at one time or another- along with our children or as children ourselves. So, we felt his impact and influence, either directly or indirectly.

After watching the recent documentary about Fred Rogers, I was reminded of what genuinely matters and how the lessons he so sensitively taught children are just as meaningful for those who teach them.

adult learner blog

1. Always be a learner. Lifelong learning is our calling. We can never afford to get stale or static, because our work revolves around children who are neither. They are ever-changing, developing, growing… and learning.

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Posted by on in What If?

While you may not see them, the parents or guardians of your students are in your classroom every day. As the primary caregivers of your students, they influence how your students think, feel, and react. Even though the ideal parent or guardian would be informed and supportive while providing a stable home environment and supervising homework, not all individuals meet these ideals. Instead, the parents and guardians of our students are people much like ourselves.  They want to do what is best for their children and don’t always know exactly how to go about it.

Some are overinvolved in their children’s lives and extremely sensitive to the smallest problem—real or imagined. Some will have a negative view because of unpleasant past experiences with school. Still others will be positive and supportive allies. Despite this complicated variation, one thing is certain. Creating a successful relationship with parents and guardians is the classroom teacher’s responsibility. Here are a few suggestions that can be adapted by almost any teacher.

At the start of the term send home a letter that explains the most important rules, policies, and procedures in your classroom. In particular, be very careful to explain your homework policy if you want parents or guardians to help you with this area.

Make sure that all written correspondence is neat, legible, and carefully proofread so that you appear as professional as possible. Readers should pay attention to your message, not question your expertise.

Contact parents or guardians when their children are successful as well as when you need their help in solving a problem. When they hear good news from school, parents or guardians realize you are trying to help their children be successful. When they only hear from teachers when there’s trouble, they quickly learn to dread conversations with us.

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Posted by on in What If?

4 children

One of the most heartbreaking conundrums in any teacher’s life is a student who does not quite qualify for special education services, and who is failing or almost failing. Often these are the students who struggle to learn how to read at grade level or succeed at basic math or even develop the necessary school skills to manage their learning tasks. As they grow older, these students often shut down, are disruptive, unmotivated, and frustrated until they finally become at-risk for dropping out of school.

The pattern for a student who falls through the cracks in our education system is unfortunately uniform in school after school. A frustrated teacher or parent asks for help because of growing dismay at the child’s inability to achieve even though he or she may be working diligently. Conferences are held. Discussion ensues. The child is tested (often after months of waiting for this service). Another meeting is held where the concerned adults are advised that the child is just barely missing the qualifying deficits for special needs qualifications, even though they still may have many of the same negative behaviors and failures that identified students have. 

Too often students who fall through the cracks present themselves as lazy or uncaring. And who can blame them? If you suspect that you have or can anticipate that you will have students who could fall between the cracks, there is a great deal that you can do to support them.

First, learn as much as you can about their learning styles and their school history as well as their home situation. Talk to past teachers and parents or guardians. Study permanent records. Look at test score data. Observe their work habits. Do all that you can to understand the barriers to success for these students. Research their strengths as well. Helping students learn to identify their learning strengths will increase their persistence levels and give them confidence in their abilities to succeed at school tasks. 

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