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Making the Kindergarten Teacher a Friend and not an Enemy

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One of the most natural reactions your child may have to meeting the kindergarten teacher on that first day at school is to be intimidated and afraid. The first day of school is a confusing and frightening experience sometimes if your little one has not been out in structured public situations before. The teacher will have a million things to think about and the top of the list will be to teach the children to learn the rules and the structure of school. And while there will be many days and weeks ahead for your child to get used to school, its possible it all could be very overwhelming and your baby may run home in tears that “the teacher hates me”. 

Of course you know that the teacher wants only the best for your child. With time, the teacher will have time to spend with each child and that natural bond will occur. But if the first impression your baby boy or girl gets is that the teacher is their enemy and someone to fear, that bond may be slow in coming.

And if the new student gets the feeling that school is a scary place where they are in danger, it could be the beginning of a lot of trouble with school down the road.

So teaching your child that the teacher is not an enemy is very important to her success on the first day of school and your child’s success in school for years to come as well. The first step in helping your child understand that the teacher is a friend is just to talk about it. Sitting with your child and visualizing together how that first day at school will be and seeing the teacher as a protector, a guide and a friend will send the child off to school with a good opinion of the teacher even before the class is called to order for the first time.

It might be helpful to work with your child to understand the relationship between authority and benevolence. You should work to help your child see that even though the teacher is setting the rules and enforcing discipline in the class, she is still the best friend and protector of the children as well. The best example your little one has of this model is, of course, mom and dad. A child has utmost trust and love for her parents. And yet she knows that it is also mom and dad who set and enforce the rules and even punish when the kids have been bad.

By seeing that the role of rules maker and enforcer can be part of being a caregiver, the child can transfer the affection they have for mom and dad to the teacher and understand that role in class.

You can even take the next step in helping your child accept the role of teacher in her life by looking for a chance to go to the school and even sit in on a class just to watch what happens at school. Many schools are happy to let kindergartners that will be starting next year sit in for a day, especially if they are with mom or dad to help them feel secure. You will see some wide eyes as your child absorbs all that goes on in kindergarten. Then you can use that experience to answer a lot of questions when you get home. All of that is outstanding preparation for what the child will experience eon their first day in school.

By meeting the teacher, watching what happens in school and getting familiar with the “idea” of kindergarten, you are getting out ahead of the problem of fear and intimidation that is often big problem for children in their first day at school. The teacher your child will have in the fall will be thrilled to meet her and begin making friends with your child right away. And that short time together may be all it takes to change that teacher from an enemy to a trusted friend and a face your child will look for as soon as she goes to kindergarten that first week. And when your child sails through that first week at school, it will because you took the time to get her ready to have a great time in her first experience at school.

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Children

5 Tips To Help Structure Your Teaching Approach For Your Home Schooled Child

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Home schooling can be a lot of fun, especially for both children and parents who are tired of the traditional way of educating a child in a prototype format.

It does not however, necessarily mean that if you opt to home school your children, you can teach your child whatever you want to teach and do whatever you want to do.

Like the formal method of teaching in schools, home schooling is also a process that parents have to learn and understand in order to provide their children the benefits of the program.

Hence, parents who have decided to home school their children but do not know how to format an overall plan in order to come up with the best structure in teaching their children, here are some tips that that might help you:

1. Knowledge about the benefits

It is important to know the reasons and the benefits for which you have opted to home school your child. 

Once you are aware that you and your child are more benefited in home schooling than the usual type of schooling, it would then be easy, for you to a make a curriculum that both you and your child will appreciate.

2. Have a goal and devise some motivations

It is better if you outline your goals at the outset. Identify what you want to achieve with your children as well as for yourself. Doing this you will be inspired and focused while teaching. Your goals act as your guide in formulating the necessary approach to teaching.

3. Determine a budget

Many parents think that since home schooling provides a cheaper means of educating their children, it’s alright for them to spend on expensive books, in spite of other cheaper options. 

Home schooling materials are indeed, important in order to provide the best teaching methods. However, it does not always mean that you have to overindulge your children.

Set a budget for your home schooling program. Many items on the Internet could help you to come up with the best strategies and methods without too much expenditure. 

4. Know your child’s capacity to understand and the way he learns things

Though many home schooling programs and methods are available on the market today, nothing comes close to perfection in providing your child the best education if you do not know how you and your child should go about the program. This can only be done easily if you are familiar with your child’s style of learning.

You have to identify the curiosity level and interest of your child in order to decide on the best approach to teaching that would motivate your child.

Why most children do not excel in school is because the method of teaching is inappropriate to their interest and level of curiosity. Hence, focus on this aspect is necessary.

5. Communicate with your child.

Communication with your child helps you identify the things that bother them and the areas where they need improvement. Most parents are so focused on providing their children the best education that they forget that the best education that they could provide is to listen to their children’s needs and from then guide them however they can.

Most parents forget that the essence of learning is based on the child’s wish to study. Usually parents have the tendency to push their children into the direction that they think would be the best for them.
By this, the children wind up miserable because the things that they need, are not provided simply because their parents failed to understand their children.

The teaching approach in home schooling compared to the usual method used in the typical schools is that parents should concentrate on the child’s learning style, interest. Parents should have the ability to understand what they want to learn. Only by this method can they teach their child in the best possible manner whatever is necessary.

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Children

How to Avoid Over Scheduling Your Kids

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It’s easy to fall into the trap of over scheduling our kids. Maybe you swore to yourself that you’d never be one of those parents, but like all traps, you don’t realize you’re stuck until after it’s too late. There are many paths to being overscheduled — here are a few.

A Little of This, a Little of That

4 Years Old
“Johnny’s 4, let’s find a local soccer team. It’d be so much fun!”
Soccer: practice 1 – 2 nights/week, 1 game on weekends.

5 Years Old
“I’ve always wanted little Johnny to play piano, let’s find some lessons.”
Piano lessons: 1 night/week

6 Years Old
“Johnny is so popular, he gets invited to every birthday party!”
Weekend parties for 25 classmates: 1 afternoon every other weekend

7 Years Old
“Mom, Trevor plays basketball. Can I play too?”
Basketball: practice 1 – 2 nights/week, 1 game on weekeds.

“Johnny, have you practiced piano?” “No.”
“What about your homework?” “No.”
“What were you doing?” “Soccer practice, piano practice, that birthday party and the basketball game.”

Uh oh.

The Over Achieving Parent

“I was a star baseball player growing up, Johnny is going to be amazing.”
Baseball: practice and batting cages 3 nights/week, 2 games/week

“Karate will give Johnny physical and mental strength to succeed in school and on the field.”
Karate classes: 1 – 2 nights/week

“Johnny needs to be well rounded — he needs music too.”
Piano lessons: 1 night/week

“He needs to be a strong swimmer so he’ll be safe at pool parties.”
Swim lessons: 1 – 2 nights/week or once on the weekend

Oh my.

The Over Achieving Kid

“Soccer is my favorite sport…”
“Basketball is my favorite sport…”
“Baseball is my favorite sport…”

“I don’t want to play on teams where all the kids don’t know how to play, I want to play the best kids.”
Competitive sports: 2 to 4 nights/week, 1 – 2 games on weekends plus travel

Your life will never be the same again.

How do I know if my kids are over scheduled?

A quick way to tell if your kids are over scheduled is to count how much unstructured free time they have to play. This is time for them to run amok, not terrorize the neighborhood, but be kids. This is a time for kids to explore, learn how to entertain themselves, build friendships and be bored. Extracurricular activities are great for so many reasons, but there is a balance between the benefits of those activities and unstructured time.

If you’re having a hard time finding free time on your kids schedule, you may not have problems today, but you will soon.

Your kids will give you many signs that they are over scheduled: 

  • Irritability
  • Burnout (I don’t want to go to practice!)
  • Behavior problems at school
  • Loss of focus

Another obvious sign is when various school, personal and activity commitments are consistently colliding with one another. This is stressful for us and our kids and makes it so our kids aren’t able to fully participate in one or more areas of their life. The added stress and inability to fully participate takes away from the fun of the sport/activity. Cutting back by making choices between different activities will probably make everyone in the house happier.

Different kids will be able to manage more or fewer activities. Just because the oldest is able to manage the heavier schedule doesn’t mean the youngest can too. We have to take into account our kids’ age and personalities when deciding how much scheduled time works for them.

How do I avoid the over scheduled trap?

If you haven’t already been trapped by a busy schedule, congratulations, that is not easy for most families! To keep from getting trapped in the future, use the same tips and tricks described below for getting out of the trap: 

  • Know your priorities
  • Take advantage of the off-season
  • Give the kids the choice

How do I escape the over scheduled trap?

Escaping the over scheduled trap is not easy. It involves making choices and saying no to things that either we want for our kids or they want for themselves. Once you realized that you’re trapped, the only solution is cutting back. Here are some ideas on how to manage it best:

Know Your Priorities

Look at all of the activities and know why you are doing each of them. Scheduled time comes in all shapes and sizes and each will be important for different reasons. However, in the end we will have to prioritize around strong personal obligations like church, educational needs like tutoring and our kids’ desire to play sports, dance or act in the school play.

Take Advantage of the Off-Season

Most sports and activities are not year round. Take advantage of the off-season to try a new sport/activity or take a break and enjoy some more free and unstructured time. This will help avoid burn out, keep your schedule from being over-the-top crazy and expose your kids to a larger variety of activities.

Give the Kids the Choice

Whenever possible, let the kids decide what they want to do. This accomplishes a few things: 

  • empowers them by making them part of the conversation and decision making
  • gives them ownership over the decision which may be useful later if things don’t go as planned
  • gives them practice at making decisions when there aren’t a lot of risks involved

A tip to make this process easier — present the kids with clear choices that they can choose between. Nothing is harder than making a choice when there are too many options. Do you and your kids a favor by limiting the options for them. Also, be sure you are comfortable with the options you present. Don’t give them a chance to choose something that you will veto down the road or aren’t willing to follow through on.

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Children

Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten

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When we think of going into the “preparation mode” as that first day of kindergarten approaches, the two areas we most focus on are the academic and the emotional. If your little one has conquered shapes, colors, counting and basic vocabulary, these are some of the academic skills that she should have as she heads off for that first day of formal school.

You may have given her some home school or even preschool exposure to get those skills in place and all of that was good preparation for this big day.

From an emotional and social point of view, the big change from staying home with mom every day to being in an institutionalized setting is one that your child will cope with better with some preparation. So letting her meet the teacher, the other students, sit in on one day with you there and then have time to role play or talk through what it will be like all will be very helpful at reducing that feeling of disorientation that your kiddo may experience the first day at school.

But there are other areas of competency that you would do well to gauge in your child as she prepares for a day without you there to do everything for her. And if you start developing those check lists in the last full year before kindergarten, you have time to help your baby develop those skills well in advance. For example, when your child goes to lunch at school, she will probably go through a line to get her food, find a table on her own to sit with relative strangers to eat and have to get through meal time without guidance or encouragement.

You can give her some of those experiences by eating at buffets where you let her handle her own tray and even pick the table and “be a big girl” by making all of the decisions. 

The more independent your child becomes in that last few months before kindergarten, the more that feeling of self reliance will pay off when school starts. Being able to dress and undress herself is a basic skill that we work on with our children. And while this will not be necessary at school, there may be times when your child needs to go to the bathroom to adjust his or her wardrobe. And not having to have a teacher there with him will make this a much smoother operation.

The basics of being able to perform simple student tasks such as how to hold a writing implement, how to draw the basic shapes, how to color a picture and how to answer questions from the teacher without mumbling are things that can be worked on well before the first day at kindergarten that will make that transition much smoother for your child and for the teacher as well.

There are also mental or intellectual talents that your child can pick up just from being part of your family but they will be of great advantage in school. This includes being able to listen and understand a story and then ask intelligent questions about it, being able to understand humor and even make simple and appropriate jokes when the time is right in class and knowing the fundamentals of alphabet, numbers and vocabulary that will equip the child to start the curriculum at kindergarten without need for remedial help.

Observe and help your child develop the simple social skills of being able to enter a room and meet new people, understanding authority and rules and learning to live with them and making friends and identifying and avoiding problem personalities in class. These are skills that will go a long way toward facilitating a happy social life at school and learning to stay out of trouble which is a lifetime skill your kiddo will need throughout a long school career.

By thinking through not only the academic but the physical, hygiene, social, language and logical skills that are sometimes taken for granted, you cut down on the surprises that wait for your child on that first day at school. And the smoother that first day goes, the better her entire year at kindergarten will go which will lead to a happy and creative attitude toward school and education for life.

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