Posts filed under ‘Education’

A much too common experience by parents

Blogs and podcasts are full of the experience expressed by the author of the following post:

why-im-homeschooling-my-kid-in-science-next-year

It is also why it is unlikely our children will ever be educated in a traditional school environment.  Our DD would do great at filling out her notebook perfectly and doing great in  the course work as well.  However, our DS would never complete the notebook for top grade.  He detests busy work.  All work must mean something and add to the educational experience.  He is a visual/spatial learner.  He understands the big picture first and then seeks to understand the parts, which is anathema to traditional classroom pedagogy.

So we will continue to home-school until there is a school like the Watershed School in Boulder, CO.

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January 15, 2008 at 9:40 pm Leave a comment

Thanksgiving Idea

We’ve been thinking about how to make the Thanksgiving Holiday more meaningful for the kids this year so that it’s more than just a big meal.  They’re now at an age they can begin to understand abstract concepts, take the perspective of another, and express themselves well both verbally and in writing. 

So from now until Thanksgiving, we’re going to have them write down on slips of paper, one thing each day they are thankful for.  We’ll put the slips of paper in a jar, and then after our Thanksgiving meal, we will take turns pulling a slip of paper out of the jar and read it aloud.

Do you have ideas that you have used to make holidays more meaningful for your kids?

November 16, 2007 at 9:46 pm Leave a comment

Teaching your Child to Read

The ability to read is basic to all other education.  We parents want to make sure that we are preparing our children for this all important skill. 

A little about how we went about it.  The twins learned the alphabet pretty much on their own using alphabet blocks, educational videos, and just natural inquisitiveness.  We have read to them all along, but never asked them to read back to us or spent any time teaching them words. 

Then they were reaching kindergarten age and we wanted to assess their abilities.  So we started teaching them simple two and three letter words.  They loved this “game” so we looked for a way to incorporate these words into actual reading.  We found a series of books that systematically starts with this concept and builds on it.  They are the BOB BOOKS.  The illustrations are simple and non-distracting, putting the emphasis on the reading.  We started with the Level 1 box and kept going through Level 3 (there are 5 levels), having them repeat each book until they could go all the way through each one without assistance.  By then they were reading not only the BOB BOOKS, but everything they could get their hands on.

We quickly had to move on to more advanced language and vocabulary building lessons and exercises, but the BOB BOOKS were a great foundation.

November 8, 2007 at 1:29 am Leave a comment

Perfectionism and Gifted Children

I just finished listening to the following podcast:

http://www.vanderbilt.edu/news/releases?id=37935

Although they have yet to be tested, our children show classic signs of giftedness.  Believe me, this can be both a blessing and curse.  We are always looking for resources to assist us on this journey.

Although I think the presentation by Ms. Stambaugh of the College of William and Mary’s Center for Gifted Education was good, I think that some of the symptoms attributed to perfectionism  may actually be a normal aspect of a particular stage of development.  For example, the tendency to see the world in black and white is part of the Conformist stage of development.  And the tendency to externalize blame is a normal characteristic of the Self-Protective stage (our son is in this stage right now and nothing is his fault even when presented with concrete evidence to the contrary). The problem would arise if this tendency persists past the normal and expected stage and becomes a shadow aspect of the personality. 

I think her recommendation to try several things to see what works is the best advice.  Each child responds differently, and the sensitive nature of the typical gifted child requires an equally if not more sensitive approach to negative thoughts and behavior. 

I also appreciated that she included the emotional perspective.  Parents and educators can get so caught up with the cognitive needs of the child, that the emotional needs are often ignored.  There can be a tendency to believe that just because a gifted child is doing school work beyond their chronological age that they have the corresponding emotional maturity of that advanced age.  This is not necessarily the case and can cause behavior issues if not recognized and addressed appropriately.

October 25, 2007 at 10:50 pm Leave a comment

Across the Universe and NCLB

I recently went to see the movie “Across the Universe.”  If anyone needs proof that music and the visual arts can transport your state of consciousness to another realm, one should see this movie. 

Some critics have given the movie a low rating, stating that the pieces don’t fit together, that the music seems out of place, and that the story is disjointed.  And if you view the movie analytically, as critics tend to do, then maybe I would agree with their assessment.  However, if you go to this movie for an experience, and not to “understand” it, I believe it can be as good as a two hour meditation.

When I reflected later on my experience and my interpretation of this experience, I began to recall again the meaning of art to our culture, how music becomes the soundtrack of our lives, how art can quickly evoke emotions and states of being, that the role of art and teaching its importance to our children is extremely important.

At times one can get caught up in the trap of believing cognitive development is the only one of importance.  And with the way that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is being administered in a vast number of schools, one can see its impact.  An unintended consequence of NCLB is then this tendency to overemphasize the cognitive line at the expense of creativity.  This is not to say that the cognitive line of development is not of great importance, it is, and is necessary for most all other lines of development.  However, this emphasis at the expense of the other “intelligences” (see Howard Gardner’s work) will result in a generation that knows little or nothing of creativity and innovation.  I recently heard that this past decade (NCLB was passed seven years ago) is the first decade in our history in which the overall level of U.S. intelligence, has dropped rather than increased.

NCLB’s goal to improve education by holding the teachers responsible for outcomes is good, but the methods being employed when coming from a national centralized bureaucracy, will continue to fail.  This goal can be set, but the methods must be developed locally if they are to be successful.  Until then, parents will continue to choose educational alternatives to see that their children are given the opportunity to not just memorize facts, but to understand, to apply concepts, and to develop their capacity to create a better world.

October 23, 2007 at 8:38 pm Leave a comment


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