Fun Indoor Activity for Kids on Hot Summer Days | Simple, Cheap and Quick Idea | African Safari

The temperature is rising, the heat index is well over a 100 and the kids cannot go outside.  But of course since they can’t be outside on a hot summer day they are board and have some extra energy to burn.  I encountered that same problem not too long ago so we came up with a cool idea that kept the kids busy all day.  The cool thing is that the idea below can also be used outdoors once the temperature decreases.

Create an Indoor Safari to Beat the Heat

First, set the tone.  While you are setting up the ‘safari’ have the kids watch a background video about the animals found in Africa.  A good example is below. Its only 5 minutes long but it’s a nice overview.

Next provide the kids with a copy of these blank coloring sheets and have them color them in.  They can color one or all depending on level and time.

https://www.firstpalette.com/pdf/safarianimals.pdf

Print out a few more animals (in color if you can), multiple copies if you wish.

https://www.firstpalette.com/pdf/safarianimals-color.pdf

https://www.firstpalette.com/pdf/safarianimals2-color.pdf

While the kids are coloring the blanks ones, cut out and hide these animals around the house.  Hide them all over (behind doors, on chairs, behind cereal boxes on the counter, etc) and be creative.  I generally hide them where they are visible to the kids and tell them that they are not in drawers, cabinets or under couches.  This rule does help out.  Try not to let the kids see where you hide them and keep a count of the number you hid so you can make sure they find them all before they move on. 

After the kids finish coloring the sheets from earlier cut them and hide those as well.  The kids love when they find the one(s) that they worked on earlier. 

Let’s Go on a Safari

Once everything is hidden, tell the kids they need to ‘document’ the animals in the desert.  This is the part that can vary and the sky is the limit to how you proceed.  When I do this I give the kids a notepad so when they find the animals they can write down their name.  You can also have them document where they found it.  If you printed multiple copies of the same animal you can have them tally the number of each species they found also.

If the kids have a digital camera have them take pictures to document the animal ‘habitat’. It also serves as a way for the kids to find the animal again should they need it.  If they do not have a cheap digital camera I highly recommend them getting one.  You can grab one for fewer than 40 bucks.  It’s truly amazing what they can do even at a young age with a camera.

If the kids are old enough they can even create a map of the house with the location that each animal was found.  After they find all of them you can have the animals ‘migrate’ to different parts of the house and the kids can document their locations.  I typically do this 3-4 times.  The kids are that excited about it!

Before you send them on their way you can have them gather all of their ‘tools’ into a bag or backpack.  It adds to the excitement of what they are about to embark on.  Some tools they can bring if they have are binoculars, bug nets, hats, cameras, books, pens, compasses, etc.

Once the kids are done you can have them research each animal they found or you can show them videos about each unique animal.   

Have Fun and Stay Cool

If it’s too hot to be outside play into the theme of the heat by pretending to be on an African Safari while letting the kids imagination take them to an exciting place.   Let the kids have some fun, learn a few things and stay cool all while pretending to be someplace hot.  Once the weather cools you can easily adapt this to outside to make it even more realistic. Enjoy!

Back-to-School Scheduling | How to Prepare before the First Day of School

Getting Started

Getting back into the school routine can be tough for older students and their parents. Everyone must readjust to early mornings, long academic days, homework, activities, and so on. The stress of juggling so much can be overwhelming and cause unnecessary tension. However, there are ways for students and their families to keep a balanced and healthy schedule when getting back to school and maintain it throughout the year.

The key to achieving a reasonable schedule for older students and parents is to start before the school year begins. The more preparation that takes place before the first day of school, the easier it is for all family members to balance and adjust to the busy schedule.

Make a Calendar

A family calendar can make a big difference when it comes to scheduling during the school year, especially with older students who may have several extracurricular activities. Most school calendars and sports practices are posted over the summer, so families can add “known” events and their dates to the shared calendar before the first day of school. As the year progresses, families can have a “submission” day each week to update the calendar with more specific information.

Last-minute schedule changes will happen, but overall a regularly updated family calendar will help all members have a general idea of what to expect each week. This allows for routine planning and time management, which will decrease overall family stress.

Make Meals

One of the downsides of back-to-school is that with the long, filled days there is less time for preparing and enjoying family meals. Breakfast can be chaotic with everyone getting ready, and many teens opt to sleep a few more minutes rather than eat. Lunches may not offer as many healthy options at school as at home, and dinner is often squeezed in between activities and homework.

The school weekdays may be too hectic for sit-down dinners for the whole family, and that’s understandable. However, it’s still important for teenagers (and parents) to eat healthy meals as much as possible. One solution is to take a little preparation time in the kitchen each weekend so there are healthier options during the busy week. Families can share in cutting fruits and vegetables for snacks and even making larger portions of healthy meals to be refrigerated and eaten during the week. Before school begins, families can make a list of monthly meals to prepare over weekends so that everyone has a share in a healthy food routine.

Waste Time

When students are focused on academics, athletics, activities, and after-school jobs, they often don’t take any time to truly unwind. Many parents are guilty of the same, especially with the amount of screen time and online presence that takes over each day. One healthy activity that family members can do together, yet one of the toughest to schedule, is wasting time. Summer is the perfect chance to build time-wasting into the family routine.

Obviously, on some level, no time is really wasted—especially when family members are together. However, it’s important to remember to take a few minutes each week (or even day) and do nothing. This helps the brain and nervous system experience calm, which can alleviate stress and tension. One idea is for families to set a timer for 5 minutes when together and just visit about a particular topic. Some families may use the time for meditation or to play a game. So long as it’s not outcome-driven, it’s healthy.

Parents and students often clash when getting used to the back-to-school routine. However, preparing some aspects of the schedule before the first day of school can help alleviate tension and stress, and bring a healthy balance to the school year.

Back-to-School and Looking Ahead | Getting Ready for the Future

Readiness

Most high school juniors and seniors spend a large amount of time “getting ready.” They get ready for class, sports, activities, jobs, and other responsibilities. They also face a distinct and added pressure to prepare for their futures. Upcoming graduation not only signifies a successful end to their primary education, but that they need to be ready to find something else to do.

This pressure to be ready for so many changes can be discouraging and overwhelming. Recognizing how to manage that pressure before junior or senior years begin is the best way to prepare for making decisions, accomplishing goals, and establishing readiness for the future.

The Near Future

It’s common for juniors and seniors to focus so much on what’s ahead that they lose sight of more immediate tasks and responsibilities. Of course, it’s important to manage the deadlines of college entrance exams, applications, essays, and interviews. It’s also important for those near-graduates who plan to enter the work force to network, apply, and gain experience.

However, looking too far ahead can interfere with what should be accomplished in the present. As juniors and seniors, students still have schoolwork and many other extracurriculars that need their focus. Much of their far future depends on the success of their near future.

For this reason, high school juniors and seniors need to prioritize their short-term goals as much as their long-term plans. Students should have an outline of goals for the present and focus on taking the steps to achieve them. This will enhance their planning and management of long-term goals as well.

The Far Future

It’s difficult for the most accomplished adult to know what they plan to do in the future, let alone a junior or senior in high school. Yet these students face enormous decisions that seem to determine whether they will be successful or not. That type of pressure can cause undue stress and undermine their path to goal achievement.

Rather than providing answers for their far future plans, students are better served by asking questions and discussing their concerns. If they know an adult who seems passionate about a career, or they have interest in a particular field of study, they should ask as many questions to get as much information as possible. In addition, students should be encouraged to voice concerns about the future or how to achieve their goals. They will realize in talking to others the possibilities of experience, what goals are important, and the different paths to success.

Very few people take a linear road when it comes to higher education and careers. It’s important for high school juniors and seniors to understand that detours and obstacles are not only expected in college or the workforce but welcomed. Primary K-12 education prepares students for many things, but post-graduation reality is more complex. Students who learn to communicate their concerns and are encouraged to ask questions will be far more ready for an unpredictable future.

Balance

The best approach to managing getting back to school for juniors and seniors and getting ready for the future is balance. Parents, teachers, and school counselors can help by providing patience, guidance, and support. Often the best tool is allowing these students to ask questions and truly listening to their goals and concerns.

Students can keep a balance between returning for their last half of high school and facing college/employment decisions by asking questions, voicing concerns, outlining goals, and focusing on present tasks. This balance creates a healthy way to manage responsibilities for the near future and decisions for the far future.

STEM in the Summer | Keep the Kids Engaged with Fun Hands On Activities

STEM is a growing buzzword in contemporary education. For those who are unaware, the acronym represents an educational movement that encourages training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It is considered crucial to teach these skills to young people because many jobs in the current workforce require them. STEM skills are responsible for sparking some of the world’s most vital accomplishments from discovering entirely new elements to putting a man on the moon. And the need for STEM is not slowing down anytime soon.

With the growing need for expertise in these fields, one can imagine the push to keep these talents alive. In 2018, the Department of Education donated $279 million to various STEM organizations including 66.8 million to Education Innovation and Research and 28.2 to million to Supporting Effective Educator Development. Considering the funds involved, it can be assumed that this is a priority for education spending.

If parents and teachers are not paying close attention to STEM learning, they should be. In fact, summer is a great time to get students involved in extra-curricular STEM learning. Igniting a passion for science, technology, engineering and math can happen at a young age. Through STEM-focused summer programs, students of all ages can learn important skills and develop an interest in these fields.

With some online research, one can find a litany of fantastic STEM camps and programs nearby. Various summer enrichment programs are held all over the United States and internationally. They can range from one week to over a month and are offered online and in person. In these programs, students can expect to learn several hard and soft skills:

Hard skills associated with STEM:

  • Coding
  • Robotics
  • Virtual Reality
  • Programming
  • 3D Printing

Soft skills associated with STEM:

  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Collaboration

Although summer camps and programs are great for all ages, adolescents might consider more of a challenge. Internships are a wonderful way to gain real-world experience in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Applying for and landing an internship is more of a self-driven process than say, signing up for a camp, but mature and responsible students are very capable. Older students should take advantage of community opportunities and get involved.

The first step to getting a summer internship at a local business is reaching out to them independently. Some organizations will post openings at high schools and online. Try asking a school administrator if the campus has any affiliations with local businesses that they trust. Consider medical facilities, engineering companies, veterinary clinics, etc. Often, students will need to reach out to businesses completely on their own and express interest.

The cooperating businesses might ask for recommendations, a resume or an interview so students should be prepared. Once an internship is earned, the hands-on experience can prove invaluable. The student will leave the internship with in-demand life skills and a glowing resume.

Look for ways students can become involved with STEM programs this summer. For young children, encourage a fun and interesting introduction to these fields.  Older students can seek a challenge and attempt to develop a potential career.

Multi-age Classrooms For 21st Century Learning

Any family with more than one child experiences what it is like to watch children copy, emulate and mimic their siblings at one time or another. This can happen very early in development, as soon as the child is aware of his/her surroundings. As children grow in a household together, these actions become even more distinct and many times the younger of the sibling hits milestones faster, simply because the older assumes the role of a coach or teacher. We learn by watching, doing and having someone beside us, to share in the shaping of our actions.

When students enter public school, a grade level separates them by age, also naturally putting a wall up between developmental milestones. Most children in a kindergarten classroom cannot read a short story unassisted, nor add two and three-digit numbers. We separate students even further by dividing our schools into buildings: elementary, middle and high school. When we schedule students, we put them in the lunchroom by grade levels, and the same goes for the playground at recess. In our specialty area classes like physical education and arts, we keep them separated as well. Why are our schools determined to keep children from interacting when they are not the same age?

Development

Let’s revisit the idea of developmental milestones, just as mentioned with siblings living under the same roof. A kindergartener and a second grader would be three to four years apart in age, depending on the birthdays and original enrollment into the education sector. A kindergartener can read some letters, possibly even sight words, while the second-grader may be reading 60 to 70 words per minute in a text.  The height and weight of the children may vary in a 10-15 pound, 2-3 inch difference. The kindergartener may be able to share without prompting and the second-grader understands what it feels like to be left out of a peer group. Why would it be a great idea to put these two students together in a classroom, and what would be the negative implications of that decision?

Interaction

A younger child may begin to share even faster with an older child because the level of competition isn’t the same. Consequently, older children may exude more patience for a younger child than that of a peer because of the identity they are shaping in themselves. How does this support academics? Imagine the level of personalized attention that the teacher can give to small group instruction when projects are put together with various age learners? We know that the greatest determining factor in mastery is when we are savvy enough to teach a lesson ourselves, so by giving opportunities to a child by assuming a teaching role, we give even our weakest the chance to shine for him/herself.

Older Students Can Benefit from Multi-Age Interaction

Multi-Age classrooms can be more tricky in middle school because of curriculum requirements, but it doesn’t have to be. In terms of high school and beyond, a real-life classroom can have an age range of several years. Our specialty area courses can pave the way for these shifts in dynamic as well.  Instead of having a beginning art, advanced art and multimedia class for grades 6, 7 and 8, we can put students of all ages together and let them share the techniques that they have used, mastered and still struggle within various forms. Instead of being worried about what will happen when the older students are around the younger, we create a community of learners and leaders. We build our government, our school projects, and our recreational activities as a team, instead of individual units.

Simulating the Real World for A Better Real World

Students don’t know how to interact unless they have been given the chance to interact. The way that we constantly divide our buildings by grade level and age sends the message that the adults want the students separated. Having mixed grade-level classrooms is a small start, but there are lots of creative ways to build a community of students by bridging projects, special days and traditions. Imagine how different Book Fair Day could be if a third grader and sixth grader partnered to talk about books in a media center and were in charge of helping one another find something that they were interested in purchasing. Why couldn’t International Night combine three ages of students to showcase how to put a project and presentation together? How different would the experience be for a sixth-grader to mentor a second and fourth-grader in their global study?

We are building classrooms to shape our future. We should examine our future workspaces and places to do this. Multi-Age classrooms are a great innovative tool to help strengthen the student body, the school community, and collaborative learning. It is a simple way to hop on the 21st-century learning bandwagon in order to foster an education preparing everyone for their future.

The Case For Bringing Library Time Back In The Middle School Schedule

Before the Common Core Standards were introduced across the states, Middle School English Language Arts classes still visited the school’s library each week as part of its ninety-minute block. During this time, students worked with the media center specialist and their teacher to do a number of short tasks. Schools differed, but the age of the “Accelerated Reader” program became a platform for quick check reading comprehension at the independent level of each child. Books were color-coded and labeled, students knew which books were at their “best fit” level and a comprehensive program with built-in rewards motivated every child during their school’s “Drop Everything And Read” time. Teachers watched students take their A.R. tests and get new books as they earned points and prizes.

The library also paved the way to engage children in their first research experience. The media specialist began to envelop skills that still demanded readers to find print books about their topics and look on the school’s portal to find multiple primary sources to develop their information center for creating a formal paper. The internet, while valuable, didn’t lose to the idea of a text-based project.

 Fast forward fifteen years and our Internet is now the research hub students use to gather information. Five and six-years-olds are unable to define an encyclopedia, atlas, or periodical. Upper elementary students rely on Wikipedia for their information and middle school students can pay for a written paper online, without ever having to research the topic. The middle school library has been forgotten as a hub for printed history, geography, and most importantly joy.

Public Library Programs Are Thriving

Summertime is a season for library specials, but it’s not the only time of year that public library programs are still booming with text-filled inspiration. Parents bring their infants, toddlers and pre-k children in for story hours, crafts, puppet shows, and plays. Alphabet letters, puzzles, and games are found all over the place. As the school year commences, reading programs pull in school-age children by offering incentives and activities each week. The older the child, the less demand and availability of the library program. Where is the disconnect between middle school readers, and middle school reading programs?

School Libraries Can Bring Back Text Joy

After the initiation of Common Core Standards, educators had the perfect opportunity to bring back the library time to the middle school student. Reading programs were substituted with Chromebooks, Ipads and other digital tools to increase “student engagement.” With this digital explosion, our libraries have become a WIFI hub, instead of a museum of text history. Teachers, media specialists, and administrators have all the power in the world to bring back library joy, so why don’t they? Why do schools move further away from books and reading books for research?

Libraries and media centers can serve as both collaborative zones for project-based learning and places for middle school students to employ text for tools of information, but stakeholders and patrons have to see the value. Educators can do this by bringing library time back once again. Spending two to three minutes with each student and helping them finding a novel or book that is on a topic they are interested in discovering is a great start. YouTube book reviews can take a book report and digitalize it into a project that students are geeked to record and produce. Teachers can assign projects that push students to use print books as a source, by making it a requirement in their research design. Students of all ages can compare and contrast the information that they find both online and in print while rediscovering what it is like to see topics presented in different ways.

The Gifts the Library Can Bring to A Middle School Student

Middle school libraries are the place that can provide exactly what the preteen and teenager need in terms of human development. Unfortunately, a lot of times, middle school students are expected to visit on their own time and it might just not be enough motive for the “on the fence” reader. The already engaged readers can tap into interests and find a secure spot with plenty of pieces of text to support what they want to learn about. Middle school media centers can also give students a safe space to explore independently on a campus that might be large, or intimidating to a new student. Spending time each week being present in the media center gives students who may never have the summer library opportunities a chance to go back to one of their favorite spaces from the elementary school. A media specialist can also take the time to dig into digital media, digital safety and the newest releases of books perfect for the ever-changing tween and teen. This is a twenty-minute segment that needs to be recharged and turned back into a school “special” so that we send the message into High School and beyond that libraries are so much more than a WIFI hub. We can build trust back in the system of literacy, research, and development, while also helping supplement our students with new things to see and explore.  Instead of trying to put more into our ‘Common Core’ Language Arts classes, we can revisit some of the best resources that will invitingly prepare our digitized learners for careers, college or beyond. 

How to Go Back To School and Not Go Broke

Going back to school shopping can be stressful and expensive.  Clothes, shoes, supplies…the list goes on and on.  Find out how to shop for this year’s must-haves without going broke this fall season.

Clothing

If your child goes to a private school you get off easy with having to purchase a few uniform pieces.  Generally these can be bought and resold right at the school.  Parents hold a uniform sales night where they can purchase gently worn uniforms.  This is a great way to save a few bucks.  Those that attend public school have a few more options.  Check out clothing resale shops.  If there is a clothing consignment shop in your town it is worth taking a few moments to investigate.  Mostly all the clothes are designer labels.  They are marked down to a fraction of the original price.  The clothing has been gently worn and in some cases tags are still on them.  One can save hundreds of dollars on jeans, shoes and purses.  A parent knows that these are high ticket items for a student.  A new hand bag alone can run hundreds if not thousands of dollars and let’s not even talk about the cost of designer jeans.  It’s worth the time to investigate this money saving tip.

Supplies

The list seems to go on and on and on…notebooks, lined paper, and pencils oh my!  Supplies can be costly and they really add up.  Do yourself a favor and scour your home.  Do you have an extra set of ear buds laying around? How about another package of crayons, glue sticks or pencils? Households tend to accumulate these items and they can be forgotten about.  It may be time to look around.  If you can’t locate these items, do yourself a favor and go to the Dollar Store.  That store is a teacher’s paradise.  Nothing is over a dollar and you can be sure to find everything on your list. 

Budget

Do yourself a favor and stick to a budget.  Many families have more than one child and the going back to school list can seem like a mile.  Set a budget and stick to it.  Tell your kids NO to the expensive book bag or shoes.  Or better yet, start buying these items little by little.  Don’t overwhelm yourself getting all the shopping done at once.  Break it up in stages and that way your children will have something to look forward too as well! 

Back to school shopping doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive.  Try one of these money saving tips and keep your wallet happy this school year. 

How Teachers Can Help Parents with Reading in the Home Without Really Doing Anything At All

Since the early introduction of “ABCmouse.com,” parents have been given a handful of digital tools to help their children become early readers so that the adjustment to pre-k, t-k or kindergarten is a painless process for the newly schooled student. Various apps allow parents to have reading instruction instantly available on their phones for the perfect car ride or restaurant distraction. This seems like it is a great way for a child to independently engage in phonics and word study in a manner that is both convenient and cost-effective.

But could this screen time actually be doing more harm than good in terms of supporting parents at home with reading instruction and literacy development tools?  Is something better than nothing? What happens when children transition to the school setting and they begin using the various apps in classrooms and computer labs. Is this complimentary to parents’ digital support? Is it overkill? Is it teaching and reinforcing reading instruction at all? Real reading, with real books, is the best thing a parent can do to support any age of reading instruction.

Kindle VS Print

Teachers need to truly encourage parents to continue the reading of handheld books. This means handheld, paper-print books with pictures, words, and pages. Kindles are great for travel, and they do serve a purpose for students who need a different engagement strategy for reading, but when it comes to home reading practice, print books open up a different world for children. Many children need to feel the sense of actually turning the page as they read, it acts as a visual motivator when a child starts with one page and moves through a chapter or even an entire book. Print books also teach children to care for something. They understand how a book is bound and the importance and significance of the pieces that make up a book, ie, cover page, title page, glossary, spine, and actual binding.  

Print Books Encourage Reading Together

When a child holds a Kindle or IPad and works on various reading apps, they are doing it completely independently. A conversation between parent and child during this time usually involves a technology issue, and after the parent scrolls, clicks and corrects, the interaction ceases. Occasionally, a child may ask for help with a word if the app doesn’t have a pronunciation tool, but this interaction leads to a parent reading the word and the student continuing with his/her game. Print books are held together and parents can actually use tracking or tracing as they read, or have their child track/trace during oral reading. Reading is slowed down and true fluency can be identified as a parent can hear a child word for word as they work through the pages together.

When a parent sits with a child, it opens the child up to naturally asking questions about a story. Children want to know “why?” when it comes to things that fairy tale characters do or say and even if a parent doesn’t know the answer, a conversation about pictures, words, and story elements boosts a child’s overall engagement and understanding of a book.

Giving Parents Books to Do the Work

Parents of all socioeconomic statuses, races, and geographic areas want the same thing in terms of reading: they want their children to be good readers. If an app is convenient and available, then the parent will give it to their child because they believe it is helping do some of the leg work to support reading. What parents need to understand is that reading aloud with their mom or dad, by itself is more than any digital tool can give their child. Sending home weekly books that are easy, short and simple is the first thing that teachers can do. The only homework assignment is to read (or if your child can read to you) and talk about the books. This interaction opens up questions, conversations and a positive relationship between families and reading. If teachers want to add a bookmark with some talking stems, they can do this only to support but not regulate the “reading with each other” movement.

Age is Only a Number

This idea of reading together doesn’t have to end when a child hits novels or middle school-and it shouldn’t. One of the easiest ways to connect to an over-emotional preteen is to do an activity that is completely neutral, like reading. Having a child sit and take turns reading a non-fiction book that they are into, or a new graphic novel can build quality moments and minutes with no pressure. This is not a homework activity. This is a family activity. Both parties leave their phones for 20 minutes and read something together. It can be a cookbook, a manual, a sports magazine. The idea is print, language, and discussion.  

Teachers already have so many things on their to-do list, asking parents to help with reading and reading strategies don’t have to be one of those things. It is a simple as sending the message that parents can also be reading teachers if they read with their children and talk about what they are reading. Children will bring home the strategies that they use in class, they have plenty of questions that aren’t answered in class and they truly want that one-on-one time with an adult. A book is a bridge that a digital device can’t always provide. The book is the magic in the parent-child reading. The parent only needs to know this and they will be great reading support for the education system and the race to make sure that all of our children become great readers.

Back To School…Are You Ready?

Summer flew by and now you are wondering where the time went.  Are you ready to meet the demands of the new school year?  Read ahead and see if you have what it takes this upcoming school season.

Skills Review

Before you set foot in the door of your new classroom, ask yourself if you have read a book.  If the answer is NO, drive yourself to the nearest local library.  It’s never too late to get yourself a library card.  They are free and the benefits are amazing.  Look at the recommended book lists they have posted and grab yourself a copy.  A classic novel or read aloud will stimulate and recharge your mind.  While you’re at it, check out a skills review workbook, SAT or ACT prep, math review, or even phonics.  The library has FREE resources and who doesn’t love FREE?  It’s worth the time the drive to your local library today.

Routine Practice

Are the kids staying up late every night and sleeping in late every morning?  Get into the new school routine soon. Start re-implementing your regular routines gradually in August little by little.  If you strategize correctly, the children will be back to their nightly routine and rituals when the school year begins.  Some children have a hard time transitioning so it’s important that you “rehearse” the routine as you would like to experience it.  Practice making lunches the night before, be able to locate book bags and shoes in an available location, and know where your school bus stop is located.  These routines will save you time if they are practiced and ready to implement day 1. 

Get Organized

Has your child had all their immunizations?  Are their yearly check-ups all to date? Is all the necessary paperwork into the school?  If your child is playing athletics in school, have you signed all waivers?  Now is the time to make these appointments and start getting yourself physically ready for school.  Many districts across the country won’t allow kids to enroll without vaccinations being done.  Take a minute to investigate. 

Take some time to filter and organize your closets.  Throw out or donate old clothes, shoes and bags.  The close of the summer is the perfect time to start revamping the wardrobe and making room for new clothes and accessories this fall.  This is a great time to look at old jackets and sweaters that have been outgrown.  Sometimes the clothing is worth taking to a consignment shop.  If not, Goodwill is a great solution.  Either way, purging old clothing, shoes and bags is a great way to ready yourself for this school year.

Through preparation and organization, you can ensure that your child will have a smooth transition to the start of the new school year. By doing so, you and your child can enjoy the rest of your summer break and have a great start to the new school year.

The Best Way To Learn a Language

Language can best be viewed as a communication style. When asking ourselves how to approach a language we need to first understand how to communicate. The main areas of communication are speaking, listening, reading and writing. You likely already possess communication skills and now we will discuss how to take these skills and apply them to another language.

Speaking

Undeniably, speaking a new language is going to be a challenge for many reasons. Every new language has new sounds that your mouth is not familiar with. What should you do? The first thing is to identify all the foreign sounds. Use google and search “What sounds exist in (target language) that don’t exist in (native language)?” Once you have this list, practice making these sounds and have a native speaker listen to you and give you feedback. The second thing is to improve your listening skills. Why is that important?

Listening

The way you hear a language will influence your speech. This is why people have accents. Often a person learning a language will not be able to say a sound correctly because they are not hearing the sound correctly. You must listen until you can hear the correct sounds. A guitar player who has played long enough can hear when a string needs to be tuned. If you are saying a word that is “out of tune” and you don’t know why, the reason is because you can’t hear it. The more you listen to a language the easier it will become.

Reading

Reading in a foreign language can boost and destroy your confidence all at once. The best approach is to take the “Bedtime Story” approach. Just as a mother reads stories to her children in a clear and slow voice, you should find audiobooks that do the same. Over a few weeks you will find yourself recognizing words. It’s possible that you won’t understand much, but focus on what you do understand. Using your finger and following along with the narrator will help boost your reading tremendously. It’s okay to read the same passage more than once, but do not get stuck on catching the meaning of every single thing.

Writing

Keep it simple. The shorter your sentences are, the less likely you are to make a mistake. Another rule to follow is to only use words that you are comfortable with using. The benefit of living with the internet is that everything we write can be proofread by another person. Writing doesn’t have to be scary and you don’t have to tackle it alone. Find someone that is a native speaker that will correct your mistakes when writing. Once everything is corrected, you can go back and compare it in order to learn from your mistakes.

If you struggle in any of these areas in your native language that may come across in your target language. As you actively improve your foreign language, your mother tongue should also not be forgotten. Learning a language is strenuous but the joy of communication outweighs the learning process.