Sunday, March 25, 2012

Simple Tips for Supporting Literacy at Home

     ~Let your child see you reading and writing everyday. 

Reading and writing activities happen all day long!  Whether you are writing out a grocery list or reading a recipe, allow your child to participate in some way.  Let him choose a snack that he would like to include on the grocery list or cut out pictures from the store ads and glue them to the list.  He will quickly learn that reading and writing have a purpose.

   ~ Create a literacy-rich life.  
  • Have different types of books, magazines, and newspapers available throughout the house.
  • Expose your child to high quality children's literature.
  • Establish “reading time” everyday…even if it is just for 5-10 minutes.
  • Listen to books while riding in the car.
  • Share silly poems, jokes, and songs.
~Enlist the help of an older sibling to read books with your child.
       ~ Provide repetition.
Repetition is important because it…
  • Provides opportunities to practice new skills.
  • Allows your child to anticipate the sequence of the story.
  • Builds background knowledge.
  • Encourages participation.
  • Develops a love for reading.
  • Builds confidence and fluency.
~Know what is going on at school.
If you know what type of literacy activities your child is doing at school, then it will make it easier for you to carryover some of these same activities at home.  Ask your child’s classroom teacher for ideas.

   ~Explore different book media.
Not all children are motivated by paper books.  Look for other ways to introduce print to your child.  You may have more success with electronic or talking books.

~Make special visits to your local library and bookstores.  

~Help your child learn about his favorite author

   ~Don’t forget about writing!  
  • Give your child a writer’s notebook and encourage him or her to jot down ideas and thoughts.
  • Spend time writing together.  Create a family scrap book complete with captions, or put together a cookbook of your family's favorite meals and desserts.  Invite your child to illustrate the recipes with his or her own drawings or photos.
  • Set up a writing corner with different types of stationary, stamps, pens, pencils, and markers.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Imagination in Education

 “I am an astronaut!” seven year old Neil beamed as he pulled a paper-made helmet over his head.  “I am a scientist!” exclaimed young Albert as a purple liquid oozed over the sides of his tube.  Is it a coincidence that these students share their names with two of the most famous men in history, or did these events really take place while Neil Armstrong and Albert Einstein were young boys?  Whether preparing to walk on the moon, developing the Theory of Relativity, or simply participating in pretend play, imagination is central to the creation of new ideas. 
“All human beings, even small children, are creative and that creativity is the foundation for art as well as for science and technology.  This creative ability Vygotsky (1995) called imagination” (Lindqvist, 2003, p. 249).  “Imagination is a form of knowing that children, by the indigenous nature of their childhood, use as an active way of understanding—of being at the very heart of theirs’ and others’ aliveness” (Lewis, 2007, p.23).  However, in the educational world of standardized curriculum and tests, imagination in the classroom often seems left out.
    A young boy once became fascinated with the old saying, “No two snowflakes are alike.”  During each snowfall, he wondered what the tiny white flakes really looked like.  He went on to capture the first photograph of a single snow crystal.  In his lifetime, he photographed more than 500 snowflakes and found that the saying he heard as a child was true.  Just like the children in a classroom, no two are alike.  The boy became known as Snowflake Bentley (Briggs-Martin, 1998). 
            “I have a dream,” Martin Luther King said.  As it turns out, he is not the only one.  In classrooms where teachers value imagination, are students more likely to realize their dreams? In the past, imagination and creativity in education were often associated with the arts (Claxton, 2006).  But, how is imagination in education perceived in these modern days of the 21st century?   As rapidly changing technology and innovation become society’s focal point, one has to wonder, how would a young Neil Armstrong, Albert Einstein, Wilson Bentley, or Martin Luther be viewed today? 
If children are to have the maximum opportunity to learn, strategies and techniques must be partnered with approaches that best do so.  Could gaining a clearer sense of imagination and bringing imagination to the forefront of education lead to better classroom instruction and deeper learning for all? 


         © 2011· Lori Laniewski * All Rights Reserved 

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