Have you read Harry Potter? This is one of the first questions I ask my students each year. This summer, the world is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Harry Potter Series. Is Harry Potter the single greatest children’s book series of all time? Well, author J.K. Rowling is the first author to become a billionaire based on writing books. Though notable for this milestone, I believe the series’ greatest achievement is the countless reluctant readers who have become avid readers thanks to the trip through platform nine and three-quarters.
Managing homework and extra-curricular activities become more daunting as our children get older. The 15 minutes of homework turns into 30, then turns into 45, and then into 60+ minutes a night. The once-a-week, two-hour long travel soccer practice turns into three nights a week, plus whole weekend team tournaments. Some children may be a member of more than one team. And, on top of that, many children often need to squeeze in other activities along with athletic commitments.
So how does homework fit into this equation? For many, not very easily. I often hear, “I couldn’t do my homework last night because I didn’t get home until 9:30.” This is one habit you don’t want your child to get into. Not only does this mean homework doesn’t get done consistently, the child often feels guilty, doesn’t perform well in school, and loses self-esteem with his/her academics. One of the tools I introduce to my students at the beginning of each school year, and have used with my own children, is a weekly planner. It certainly doesn’t solve time issues, but it gives the student an overview of the week in an organized manner. It also helps each student to be accountable for his/her own homework planning.
It's time to get outside. Spring has sprung, the flowers have bloomed, the trees have their leaves, and the sounds of little league can be heard in every town across America. Whether you like to take a hike, go fishing, or work in your garden, take your kids along. It can be a great family event. Go out and have a catch with a frisbee, or a baseball, or go for a bike ride.
We all know that art is a great way to express creativity. There is something very liberating about using colors, shapes and patterns to show how we are feeling or to depict our own personality. What people do not always realize is how important art can be in developing problem solving skills and abilities.
The beauty of art is that its possibilities are limitless; art can be anything and everything, and that is what can make art feel overwhelming at times. When you have a wonderful idea for something you would like to make, the next logical step is to figure out how to make it. Within each art form there are several decisions that need to be made as the artist progresses through the piece. There are multiple materials and techniques that the artist can explore to see which produces the results that are truest to his creative vision. The growth and confidence that comes from creative thinking and problem solving is incredibly important and translates easily into other parts of learning and everyday life. Having the ability to step back from a problem, examine it, explore options and find the best resolution serves us well throughout life.
Do you remember being a child and sitting on your parent’s lap or maybe
snuggling in bed with your mom or dad as you listened to a great book? I have wonderful memories of snuggling with my mom as she read books to my sister and me during our childhood. The Pokey Puppy published by Little Golden Books and so many of the I Can Read books, such as Danny and the Dinosaur or Little Bear, were a few of my top favorites. And I’ll never forget the annual reading of The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore. I still have my original copies of all these books, and during reading group time I have even shown my first graders my copy of Danny and the Dinosaur. It has my name handwritten in crayon on the inside cover. Snuggling up with my mom and a good book helped me learn to enjoy reading and all the adventures that books can take you on in your lifetime. Being read to as a child may very well be the reason why I’ve always loved reading aloud to my students and also my own children.
Growing up we are all told that if you want to become the President of the United States that you can. Being the President of the United States was not something that I ever thought about, nor was it something that I thought I would be well suited for. However, out of nowhere, my chance to be the President of the United States happened (well, sort of).
Resilience, leadership skills, respect for others, self-esteem, patience and appreciation for differences in others - these are just a few things that we all hope to see develop in young children. While many of these skills can be developed in school and at home, a child’s participation in team sports can greatly enhance all of these areas - all while the child is playing and having fun! Being on a soccer team, playing tee-ball, basketball, lacrosse and a multitude of other sports can have long lasting benefits for your child, outside of the physical aspects of sports.
Teachers love to learn, and opportunities for faculty professional development are widely available. For schools, an investment in faculty development pays great dividends because teachers bring their experiences into the classroom on a daily basis. Conferences, online courses, and ongoing training will all deepen a teacher's practice. These opportunities will also affect students by modeling lifelong learning, curiosity, and minds open to challenge. In addition to these options, my school has implemented a very successful program that awards a faculty travel grant each year. Giving a teacher grant money specifically for designated for travel is an excellent way to enhance a teacher's professional development, and to broaden student learning in the classroom.
In the era of Marvel superheroes it is very easy to think superpowers are a necessity to make a positive impact. Our students are faced with so many pressures in today’s society and are constantly being told by mainstream media how to dress and act, and what to believe. This constant cloud of negativity hinders their ability to tap into their own extraordinary talents. The solution to this dilemma is character education. Character education teaches students that they don’t need the speed of The Flash or the strength of The Hulk to be an influential and successful human being. All they have to do is to tap into their own superpower, which is embracing the person they are and the person they want to become.
One of the most common questions that I am asked, as a school nurse, is how can sports related injuries, concussions in particular, be prevented? With every generation it seems that level of play and competition has increased, resulting in more injuries. Are
these injuries and concussions happening more frequently or have we become more adept at diagnosing them? With about 46.5 million children participating in sports in the United States, it is estimated that there are approximately 3.8 million concussions that occur every year; however only 1 out of 6 will be formally diagnosed and treated, so we clearly still have a long way to go.
It is common knowledge that frequent injuries and concussions occur in high risk sports, such as soccer and football, but they can occur anywhere and you may be surprised at how gentle of a hit to the head can result in a concussion and injury. You add to that the increase in our young athletes' level of play and skill set, growth spurts causing muscles and ligaments to stretch to the point of injury, and it makes sense why we seem to have an increase in sports related injuries and concussions. It may surprise you to know that approximately 60% of all injuries occur during practice and the most common injuries are muscle sprains and tears, growth plate fractures and heat related illness. Here are some things that can be done to prevent these injuries and concussions.