Tag Archives: academics

Ask the Teacher

25 May

Whether your child is a high achieving student or needs some extra help, summer is a great time to practice all kinds of school related skills. Your child’s teacher knows your child’s skills better than anyone else and are your best resource.

Ask your child’s teacher for a suggestion on each of the following:

  • What is the most important skill my child could work on academically?
  • What social/emotional skill could my child work on improving?
  • If there was one thing your would recommend that my child could do over the summer what would it be?

Some of parents who read this will think that their child doesn’t need to work on any of the skills listed above. Believe it or not, every child has something to work on! Your child’s teacher spends at least 8 hours a day with your child in a setting far different than your home. They know many things you don’t know about your child!

Finally, and most importantly, when you ask the teacher these questions, listen carefully and be open-minded to what they are saying. Their advice will only make your child a better person and student.

The Prescription for Brain Drain

3 Aug

Now that summer’s almost over, it’s time to make sure your kids haven’t contracted the dreaded summer disease – BRAIN DRAIN!

If you didn’t get a chance to read my pre-summer blog on brain drain, here’s my end-of-summer blog on brain drain. This blog is not meant to imply any guilt, because I  admit that my kids have caught a slight case of the disease this summer, too. But, it’s not too late to cure them before school starts.

“Brain drain” is the trendy phrase that means your kids suffer a learning loss that usually occurs during the summer months. And, although the term is cute and rhymes, brain drain is a real issue. Johns Hopkins University Center for Summer Learning researched the topic and found that all children experience some form of learning loss during the summer, and that some kids lose up to 2.6 months of learning! Basically, this means that teachers spend the first two months of a new school year reviewing, and children don’t begin learning new academic material until November. Yikes!

So what can you do? If your child’s been reading, exploring, discovering, visiting museums, talking with you, counting money or items, then you’re off to a great start and you need to keep it up. On the other hand, if your child hasn’t had many of these experiences, it’s time to wipe away the cobwebs and start revving up for school.

Here are some teacher prescribed activities to cure your child of brain drain.

  • Read to, with and next to your kids, even if it’s the comics. Reading is reading.
  • Cook something together. Cooking works on time, temperature, measurement, fractions, pouring and many other skills.
  • Visit a museum, especially a hands-on museum. While your there ask your child open-ended questions about what they are doing.
  • Get outside and explore nature. Let your kids dig, climb, observe.
  • Have your child write a list of all the things he did this summer and things he’d wished he’d done.
The activity doesn’t have to be long or intensive; just fun. It’s also important to give your child the opportunity to lead you in activities or discussions. If you start treating brain drain now, your child will be cured and ready to start a successful, new school year.
For additional activities to encourage learning, visit our campus and search “back-to-school”. 

Transitioning to Middle School

2 Aug

Dr. Keith Kanner is our guest blogger this week and has provided wonderful information for parents with new middle schoolers. If you don’t have a middle schooler in your home right now, pass this valuable information on to someone who does.

Dr. Keith Kanner is the author of Your Family Matters: Solutions to Common Parental Dilemmas and host of Your Family Matters internet radio show

July 21st, 2011

Background:  Summer is always a time of transitioning for children.  Sometimes it’s just moving up one grade from the next, which can in itself be stressful, but some transitions are more significant than others. For example, any change from one level is school to the next is more significant than merely a grade change.  Therefore, transitioning from Preschool to Elementary School; Elementary School to Middle School; Middle School to High School, and then High School to College represent such “significant” changes.  Much of this change not only entails academics, but also commonly involves a school change which includes lost and new friends, a new environment, and new tasks to master.  As many high school seniors will be leaving for college next month and in September, the kids at home will also be making their own adjustments even though they are still living with their families.
Much focus on such “significant” changes over the years has been on the transition from Middle School to High School whereby parents and educators stress that from an academic point of view, the leap is intense and the kids who were not serious about school in Middle School better shape up over the summer for high school performance over the next four years will determine where and if they will go to college.
But, it’s in Middle School when children reach puberty, engage in more of a departure from relying on mom and dad, seek intense peer relationships, become obsessed with the opposite sex, and have to perform much greater than they did in elementary school.  Many high school students have told me that the transition from elementary school to middle school was much harder than beginning high school after 8th grade due to the multitude of changes that go beyond studying more, having up to 6 different teachers, and wanting to “fit in” with the popular group.  Most of the stress felt by the Middle School kids has to do with physical and psychological changes which he or she has little control over.  Biology doesn’t wait for the psyche to mature and in many cases the kids just aren’t ready for their bodies to become mature.  On the other hand, some kids are ready and their body isn’t.  These two groups, the early pubescent and the delayed pubescent are considered “risk” groups due to the multitude of tasks that a 12 to 14 year-old has to face during the Middle School years. The tasks of the Middle School child are as follows:
1.  accepting a changing and maturing body
2.  mastering a greater separation from parents
3.  more academic and social demands
4.  interest and relating to the opposite sex
5. greater intensity in same-sex peer relationships
The “who am I” becomes a common question for most middle school children and it is not an easy one to answer given all of the changes and demands made during this two-year period of time.  I see these middle school students as both a vulnerable group, but also provides an opportunity for helpful outside influences if more people are sensitive to the importance of this period of time in a child’s life.  Middle school is often like a middle child. More focus is either placed in the earlier years or in the upcoming high school years, and these two significant years are then minimized and frequently ignored.  Another contributing factor to this is the common attitude of this young adolescent which is frequently resistant, strong willed, and not terribly nice and friendly to their parents.  Typically based on desired independence, many parents hope it is just a phase and hope it will pass once their child goes to high school.  In these cases, too much distance may be created between the parent and child which then leaves this vulnerable child more alone with so much on his or her plate.  A lack of enough parental involvement can then further confuse the teenager and leave more influences in the hands of their peers.
So, how can parents withstand their child’s “attitude”, but not get pushed away too far so not to help their child better manage these invaluable tasks that they need to master to better make it in both middle and high school?
1.  Be aware of the tasks their child has to master and help them if needed.  For example, if a child is having trouble in school, insist they get some help even if they don’t want it.
2.  Be sensitive to their normal vulnerability and be compassionate.  Kids will act nicer to you if you are genuinely nicer to them.
3.  Continue to have family time despite resistance but try to find activities that are enjoyable to everyone.
4.  Insist respect and do not allow they to get out of control.  Young adolescents are like large toddlers and need the same type of loving limits when they are struggling to tow the line.
Take some time this summer and review the necessary normal tasks for your child and work with them to satisfy them.  They will feel better about themselves, be more successful socially and academically and less conflict will echo in your home.  You will also be helping them prepare for high school which is a stage where new and more complex tasks are right ahead of them and mastering the ones in middle school will give them a great foundation in obtaining them beforehand.
Dr. Keith Kanner
Anchor/Host Your Family Matters
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