Over the years, structures get modified for continuing growth. Here you will find the help to encourage life long learning.
Enjoy the bi-weekly article below:
Enjoy the bi-weekly article below:
Teaching Children How to Think
Some might think it is not possible to teach children how to be thinkers. A common belief is that one is either born with intellect or not. Wrong! Creative and critical thinking are skills, something that can be learned. There are, however, developmental issues. How well youngsters think depends on whether parents and teachers have expected them to think for themselves. Adults tend to tell youngsters what to think. But even in the interests of telling youngsters how to behave in proper ways, the instruction is more likely to be accepted if children are encouraged to think through why certain behaviors are preferred over others.
Teachers know that many students have poor thinking skills. Several reasons help explain why. Changes in culture are a factor, such as mind-numbing television, video games, social networking Websites, cell-phone texting, and so on.
Paradoxically, we have no problem telling children what to think, but when their thinking becomes flawed, we are reluctant to intervene. Many parents (and even teachers) think it is bad to challenge children’s thinking when it is flawed. They think that such challenges can be embarrassing and damages self esteem. The reality is that such students eventually discover they are not as capable as their peers who have effective thinking skills, and that gives them real reason to have low self-esteem.
Schools and state mandates also contribute to the problem. Too often, students are trained to look for the one “right answer.” Then there are state knowledge and skills standards, where students are actively discouraged from thinking “outside the box.”
Many students lack the confidence to think for themselves and are actually afraid to try. The reality is that students are natural-born creative thinkers, but the conformity of schools has drilled students into a submission that precludes analytical thinking. In our culture, the only place where it seems that insightful ideas are excluded is in the school.
How does one teach critical thinking? Three ways:
- Expect it. Require students to defend their ideas and answers to questions. Show them it is not enough to have the “right” answer. Students need to understand how they arrived at the answer and why it is “right.”
- Model it. The teacher can show students how to think critically and creatively about instructional material. Even it “teaching to the test,” show students how to think about alternative answers, not just memorize the right answer. Show why some answers are right and some wrong.
- Reward it. When good thinking occurs, teachers should call attention to it and to the students that generated it. Learning activities and assignments should have clear expectations for students to generate critical and creative thought. A grading premium and other incentives should be provided.. Rigorous analysis will only occur if it is expected and rewarded.
Web sites and blogs that show how to teach thinking skills include:
Concept maps are diagrams of key ideas, with lines drawn between those ideas that are related. Drawing concept maps is a constructivist activity that promotes understanding and learning in several ways:
- Students engage with the material, being expected to identify key ideas and their relationships. In short, they have to THINK.
- Students have to DO something with the information (draw the diagram).
- The final diagram helps students get the “big picture.”
- Maps facilitate memorization and later study.
A web site that explains and illustrates concept mapping is found at http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v8n2/birbili.html
Teachers sometimes take for granted that students know how to construct such maps. Specific instruction is often necessary. This Web site not only explains what concept maps are, but shows how to teach this important skill to children.
Two things are NOT included at this site that should be:
1. Teaching children first how to outline may expedite learning how to map concepts. As you may know, some concept map computer programs can construct the first stages of a concept map from an outline that is created first. A simple video clip for teaching children how to outline is found at: http://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?p=teaching+children+how+to+outline
2. Although maps are traditionally advocated to help acquire understanding, they are also helpful for study and memorization. Maps, concept or otherwise, are spatial displays. The part of the brain that converts temporary memories to lasting memories is the same part of the brain that creates an internal spatial mapping of what is seen in the outside world. Thus, having information arranged as a map makes it easier for the brain to form a memory of it. During memory recall of information that was originally mapped, remembering specific areas of the map can actually help recall what object/information was there originally.
This brings us to another point. The best way to study mapped information is to self test, in which the map is re-drawn from memory, checked for errors, and then re-drawn again from memory. A formal experiment comparing concept maps with self-testing showed that self-testing was far superior in generating accurate recall. Though not tested, it should be obvious that self-testing on concept maps should be even more effective than either process alone.
(The above articles are not SSS originals, but worth sharing.)
ARE YOUR CHILDREN SLEEPING?
It is so easy to let your children's sleep times slip during summer vacation, especially when they are having more sleepovers (See Kid Scoop in this issue.), more screen time and even time to read with a flashlight or attempt to use their devices as they hide their activity under their sheet tent.
You are the parent-detective who must be concerned about the amount of sleep your children get. You are the one who will receive their grouchiness, poor behavior and lax eating habits the next day due to their lack of sleep.
How do you know how much sleep your children need? There are several websites that will advise you about this, but the general idea is that pre-schoolers need 10-13 hours of sleep while school-age children (6-13) need 9-11 hours. Teens need more sleep than adults (8-10 hours) due to their changing bodies and brains.
Since teens need more sleep than adults (8 1/2 hours to 9 1/4 hours), they need to cut down on evening activities within a reasonable time. Children need to understand the importance of sleep to promote growth, to help their hearts function properly, to help beat germs, to reduce injury risk, to increase their attention span, to boost learning and even control their weight. (www.parents.com The 7 Reasons Your Kid Needs Sleep). Children getting enough sleep have healthier immune systems, better school performance and behavior, sharper memory and mental health.
What is learned during the day is consolidated during sleep. Dr. Carskadon, Brown University
Too often sleep takes a back burner over the cellphone, e-mail, instant or text messages, even Skype. The website -- https://kidshealth.org -- suggests switching off electronics one hour before bedtime and making sure that TVs, computers and mobile devices are off to insure their sleeping. All ages need time to wind down and have downtime before they go to sleep. To help you teach your children the importance of sleep, use the website www.sleepforkids.org.
One website suggests you and/or your children keep a three-column sleep diary for one or two weeks: one column for lights-out time, a second column for how long it takes children or self (for older children) to fall asleep, and a third column for wake-up time. I suggest a fourth column for how your children feel when they wake up. Are your children groggy, crabby, irritable?
Now I see the secret of making the best person...grow in the open air... eat and sleep with the earth. Walt Whitman
Use Music to Get Ready For School
"What does music have to do with getting ready for school?" you may ask. Add music to your children's schedule because it provides a calm atmosphere that helps to reduce stress, provide comfort and improve health and well-being.
Listening to soft, calm music like the classical compositions of Bach for self-discipline and listening skills or Mozart to encourage good brain activity can help prepare your young people for their time in school. (Dr. Eric Jensen)
Listening to music cultivates academic and physical skills as it improves memory, intuition, and perception. Attention to the sounds of music help young people recognize pitch, melody, rhythm and tempo. Music helps to express strong emotions such as joy, sadness and fear.
One man who took up playing a musical instrument as he continued his academic education found it easier for him to concentrate on difficult subjects and helped him to be a better problem solver. It might not be too late for you to encourage your young people to take music lessons or play an instrument.
Playing music also has its benefits. Children learn better concentration, attention to direction, listen more attentively, and work together with their peers to make beautiful sounds if they play in a band or orchestra. Those who want to sing can benefit from participating in chorus learning to read music notes and memorizing their part in harmony. This grows their self-esteem, discipline and patience.
Another benefit to turning off the TV and devices is listening to enjoyable and relaxing music, helping your children be ready for the discipline, self-control and attention that school requires. Your young people's mood and health is enhanced by their listening to music and it might even help you as parent to be more patient and calm.