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Friday, 16 July 2010

How to Help Children Retain Skills over the Summer Break

Children often have a hard time retaining skills during the summer break. Many parents enroll children in summer school or extended school year, but this often is an abbreviated and less structured version of the school day. Even when children are educated at home, summer often involves routine changes. Since many children rely on consistent instruction, these changes can result in regression. This article includes strategies for preventing regression and teaching new skills.
1. Know What Skills to Work On - To prevent regression know what skills your child is working on and their current functioning level. Be sure to review their school progress reports, IEP (if applicable), and information from their teacher on summer reading and work. For children working on self-care, independence, or behavior skills, take data on their current progress. Be sure to ask their teachers and
therapists what skills they are working on and exactly where they stand.
2. Find Opportunities to Practice Skills - Many skills can be integrated into a daily routine. Dressing, self-care, and behavior naturally occur during the day. Take time to use these natural occurrences as learning opportunities. For example, help your child as needed to put on their shoes rather than doing it for them. It may take longer for them to do the skill on their own, but it teaches them the steps they need to be more independent. Academic skills also can be integrated into a daily routine. Have children help with any math related problems and involve them in reading. For
example, if you have a family picnic and 4 cousins, 3 aunts, 3 uncles, and 2 grandparents will be there, have your child help you count the number of cupcakes you need to bring. If you are baking the cupcakes, work on literacy skills by having your child read the recipe to you. Counting and fractions can be developed by gathering and measuring the ingredients. Children can work on motor skills by cutting butter, stirring ingredients, and pouring the batter into the tin. For children who need direct instruction, schedule a time during the day specifically to work on skills.
3. Build on Existing Skills - When children master a skill continue to review it, but also expand on skills. For example, if your child is mastering their current list of sight words, be sure to add additional words and phrases to their skill set. If they are able to count all the spoons the family has when helping to empty the dishwasher, add a serving spoon or two and teach them to count a little higher. Build on skills one step at a time so they are successful, enjoy learning, and do not become frustrated.
4. Appreciate Small Steps – It can be very frustrating for parents and professionals when children learn slowly or take a step backwards. Try to remember some skills take awhile for children to acquire. Sometimes children need additional examples of the skill or a new approach for instruction. Recognize that children become frustrated as well and teach them to be persistent and patient.
5. Realise It Is Summer – When children have different educational programs,
therapies, and activities, it can be easy to forget summer break is also for elaxing. Although working on skills is important, be sure to enjoy the fun things summer has to offer. Enroll kids in swimming lessons, summer camp, tennis class, or just let them play outside. These kinds of activities are a way to stay healthy, learn new skills, and make new friends.

Strategies for Teaching Children to Make Good Choices

Choice is a big part of people’s lives. We decide daily what to wear, what to do, and how to treat people. Teaching children how to make good choices is critical for independence and self-control. This article focuses on a variety of strategies for teaching choice making.
1. Allow Children to Make Choices - Often it is easier to choose for children than allow them to decide for themselves. Unfortunately, lessons learned by making good and bad choices help children become responsible, independent adults. Choice also gives children a sense of ownership in activities. Take time to offer choices, create situations for choice, and reinforce the importance of good choices in your day.
2. Limit Choices - Keep the number and types of choices within reasonable limits. For example, if you let a child pick a snack, give them two or three healthy choices. By providing only allowable choices you reduce opportunities for conflict and create a situation where they succeed at making a good choice.
3. Discuss Options – When faced with decisions, think through and discuss the options to help children understand why one choice is better than another. Discuss possible choices, consequences, and why one option is better. For example, when leaving the house look outside and discuss the weather. Is it cold? Is
it raining? Which coat is the better choice? What happens if you pick the light cotton coat and it rains? By guiding children through choices you teach them how to make decisions for themselves.
4. Consider Other People – When decisions involve other people, discuss the implications of the choice for the other people. For example, if a child wants to use the swing for the duration of recess discuss:
Have other people asked to use the swing? Are other children waiting for the swing? How would you feel if you didn’t have a chance to use the swing? Are there other places you can play for part of recess? This helps children realize their choices affect people other than themselves.
6. Use Past Choices as Opportunities – When a child makes a bad choice such as cutting in line, saying something hurtful, or playing rather than finishing homework, use the opportunity to discuss why the choice was bad, consequences, and better choices for the future. Ask the child what other choices they could have made and what may have happened. Additionally, use past decisions and consequences as
reminders. For example, “Noah, remember how you played video games rather than clean your room yesterday and had to miss your favorite show and clean up? What do you think you should do today?”
7. Praise Good Choices – When children make good decisions let them know what they did and why it was a good choice. For example, “Jason, I like the way you moved over to make room for Ella on the bus. It was nice of you to share your seat. That was a very good choice.”
8. State When There Is No Choice – Some situations such as safety and schedules have no choices. Holding hands crossing the street, participating in fire drills, and leaving on time for school are examples of times when there is no choice. Explain why these situations do not have choices and why all people must follow certain rules and schedules. Let children know if there is an aspect of the event that is their choice. For example, “We have to leave now for the bus, but you can carry your blue or red book bag.”

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Students for Madeleine

Dear Colleagues
As you know, People First Education Ltd continue to support the campaign to find Madeleine McCann. The team at findmadeleine have recently launched a student initiative.
Please would you be kind enough to take a moment to check out the link by clicking the Students for Madeleine logo to your right, and forward it to anybody you may think is interested.

With very best wishes
The People First Education Team