Monday, November 26, 2007

More school ideas

Our daughters' conferences a few weeks ago and I received some good information from their teachers. I previously posted some writing tips, now here are a few more I found in another information packet.

This packet was for parents of middle schoolers:
  • The article pointed out that middle school students have to juggle multiple classes and multiple chunks of homework. However, they are still learning time management and time past the "present tense". They suggested, to "sharpen those skills" by asking the child to "estimate how long it will take to run an errand and get home."
  • One paragraph stated that "bouncing quickly from one subject to the next" can be difficult for some students, especially if multiple classes give homework on vocabulary. It suggested that the student may "run out of linguistic gas". For this the article instructed parents to (when the student isn't swamped with homework) have him/her review their notes. Then, using different color index cards for each subject, jot down the different terms used in each class. This way, during homework dealing with these words, the correct cards will be at hand.
  • One of my favorite suggestions, to help students to be "better wordsmiths", to write the numbers 1 to 10 on separate slips of paper and drop them in a hat. Have the child write ten sentences about a favorite thing (ie sports team, or band). But before they write, they must pull from the hat. If the number nine was drawn first, then the sentence must be nine words long; if the number three is picked, the sentence must be three words long. "It only takes a few of those exercises until they don't need them anymore."
  • The article also says that most middle schoolers have given up the minute-to-minute "what I did at school today" conversations in lieu of "nothing". They say, instead of asking the child as soon as they walk in the door what they did at school, ask them 20 minutes before bedtime, and a sleepy middle schooler is more likely to chat. :) My oldest used to tell me all about her day, the whole 10-15 min. walk from school was her talking... not anymore. Not a word. I've even tried more than "What did you do at school today?" I have tried: "Anything weird happen today?" "Did anything cool happen today?" "Did anyone unusual get in trouble today?" "Who did you eat lunch with today?" Nada, zip... Scary how the doors of communication close... This is not good for a worrier like me.
In another packet, we received some tips on encouraging math and the enjoyment of it:
  • Make math hands on; have kids make their own games and puzzles.
  • Take math outside; walk around outdoors and study patters of seashells, pine cones, spiderwebs, etc.
  • Take math on vacation; enjoy shapes and patterns of landscapes.
  • Encourage kids to keep a sketchbook and observation notebook to write or sketch about what they see.
  • Make charts and graphs with your children, such as rates of growth, weather, school sports, household task completion or donations to charities.
  • Encourage interest in architecture such as drawing plans for rooms, houses or gardens.
  • Keep sport stats.
  • Play with codes, such as sending an affectionate message in code or have them write you a note in code.
  • Take math into the kitchen, dividing recipes, measuring, cutting apples, etc.
  • Make math a holiday event; make a mobile or mosaic or cut our stars or snowflakes. Talk about balance, symmetry and measurement.
  • Throw a math party; map a treasure hunt or shape a cake into numbers.
  • Encourage math activities, without necessarily using the word math. This makes some kids nervous.
  • Encourage students with verbal ability to see the connections to math; ie poetic meter, or palindromes.
  • Don't rush in. Don't solve the problems for the children, let them work at it.
  • Don't be reluctant to expose children to difficult concepts.


momo said...

oh, these are good. you and i do the same thing - when i pick up my kids i'm the one talking - anything funny? anything good happen today? keep persisting though, don't let those doors close!

Maddy said...

I don't know who has to juggle more the kids or the mums!

Isabelle said...

Ah, just wait till they start going out with actors... Then you'll have something to worry about.

Juls said...

Very interesting tricks. Thanks for posting. By the way, I like your new wreath.