Wednesday, September 24, 2014

So, How Was School Today?

The new year is off to a wonderful start.  Our classrooms are brimming with activities and excited learners.   Stepping into a classroom is the one of the greatest joys of my day.  I love sitting in a morning meeting, watching writers work on their craft, listening to stories and talking to children about their work or play.  Technology has enabled teachers to communicate more often about classroom happenings, including the ability to post pictures and videos on class blogs - which has even allowed grandparents living out of state to take a peek in the school life of their grandchildren.

Parents have always tried to catch their own glimpses by asking, "How was your day?"  The lucky families are regaled with details about the school day.  More commonly the answer parents hear is, "Good," followed by limited information.  Recently, Huffington Post blog writer, Liz Evans, wrote a piece called, 25 Ways To Ask Your Kids, 'So How Was School Today?' Without Asking them, 'So How Was School Today?'  Many questions have the potential to create conversations that will give you with a little of the insight you are asking for.  I thought I would share some of them on my blog for you to try in your own home. Hang them on your refrigerator and have fun with them! Leave a comment with other questions you use at your own house.   This link will connect you to the full article.

Other Ways to Ask Your Kids, "So How Was School Today? . . ." 
1. What was the best thing that happened at school today? 
2. Tell me something that made you laugh today.
3. Where is the coolest place at the school?
4. If I called your teacher tonight, what would she tell me about you?
5. How did you help somebody today?  How did somebody help you today?
6. When were you the happiest today?
7. If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed someone up, who would you want them to take?
8. Who would you like to play with at recess that you've never played with before?
9. What do you think you should do/learn more of at school? What do you think you should do/learn less of at school?
10. Who is the funniest person in your class? Why is he/she so funny?
11. What was your favorite part of lunch?
12. If you got to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you do?
13. If you could switch seats with anyone in the class, who would you trade with? Why?
14. Tell me about three different times you used your pencil today at school.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Reading and the Brain

Enjoying a book in the reading loft
Advances in technology have enabled researchers to enlightened educators about what actually happens in the brain as a child learns to read.  I've been rereading a fascinating book called Building the Reading Brain by Pamela Nevills and want to share a few things parents might find interesting.

•A baby's brain is born with the connections in place that allow it to speak every language in the world!  Most babies learn to talk just by spending time with people who speak.

•Brains do not come "wired" to read or write.  Learning to read and write occurs when connections are built in the brain through a long, gradual process.

•Speaking actually serves as a bridge for learning to write and read.

•A core skill in learning to read is the ability to manipulate sounds in words.  Researchers have discovered something called "The Nursery Rhyme Effect" which helps children learn to manipulate sounds.  Brain cells and neural connections are stimulated to fire together when children hear words that rhyme.

•Nursery rhymes build two foundational brain connections through the ability to recognize words that rhyme, and distinguish sounds that are alike and different.  Researchers have discovered that knowledge of nursery rhymes is strongly and specifically connected to development of abstract word processing skills and future reading ability. (p.55).

Reading to children enhances brain development by:
-creating familiarity with language patterns
-increasing vocabulary
-strengthening neural connections through repetition
-reinforcing familiar words by rereading their "old favorites"
-encouraging familiarity with the reading process and helping develop concepts of print in young children
-stimulating working memory and helping children make connections from talking about a book

At Breck, we are fortunate to have children who grow up hearing adults read to them.  Just think about the important neural connections you have built cuddled up with your children around a book!  Thank you for contributing to this vital component in your child's literacy development.