Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Benefits of Video Games

Imagine that if you give them the tools their curiosity will take over.

       Kids Learn to Think: A+ Edition [Nintendo DS Game]

I enjoy being a parent and always thinking about what is going to be the next idea to help my little girl grow and stretch. My daughter was given a beautiful +Nintendo DS for Christmas at the age of 4. Needless to say at the time I felt she is still too young for games but her uncle +Joseph insisted.   He is a game connoisseur he wanted her to get started in developing her motor skills.  Personally, I have never put full value into video games but when challenged I will try my best. I can also become frustrated by my lack of hand and eye coordination but I'm not shy.

Well now as for my daughter she is 5 years old and plays games like "Let's Draw" , "Team Umizoomi" and attempts to play "Monster High". I figured why not mix up her selection with games that have more learning themes.  After a discussion with a fellow mom +Angelica Taylor got excited by my ideas and immediately considered how her child who is now in third grade would benefit from a variety of themes in his collection of games. She decided she will be purchasing a few of these titles as well. 

It can't hurt to incorporate games that stretch their understanding.

It doesn't matter what age you start but imagine if you catch them early... ?

A recent study from the Education Development Center and the U.S. Congress-supported Ready To Learn (RTL) Initiative found that a curriculum that involved digital media such as video games could improve early literacy skills when coupled with strong parental and teacher involvement. Interestingly, the study focused on young children, and 4- and 5-year- old who participated showed increases in letter recognition, sounds association with letters, and understanding basic concepts about stories and print.       
Video Games in Moderation

Their are many reasons to be concerned about all the different types of interactions that our children may encounter throughout the day.  I would heavily consider that everything they do must be done in moderation but more importantly with purpose.  As parents we should consider the advantages of technology in our lives and how this technology can impact our children's lives in a positive way.  

On purpose these products can encourage independence, critical thinking and problem solving skills.  Don't shy away from games that seemed to be challenging just utilize the time to support your child.  Give them words of encouragement and show them what they can do when they practice by modeling a few moves.  The chances are high that your little one will go off and try to hurdle their own little challenges on the screen.  Every moment is a teachable moment so on purpose take advantage of those moments.  

Its a Family Affair

Moreover, the benefits of video games on children and adults are endless.  Let's reshape your thinking or doubts about them if any.  Did you know that these game products are fun, exciting and interactive?  There is a game for every type of personality or interest. Just keep an open mind and embrace new concepts and technology.  This would be an valuable lesson to share with your children and a fun idea to incorporate into family time. 
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) indicates that video games can help adults process information much faster and improve their fundamental abilities to reason and solve problems in novel contexts. In fact, results from the ONR study show that video game players perform 10 percent to 20 percent higher in terms of perceptual and cognitive ability than non-game players.
Finally, keep in mind that as your child is learning and growing you can be too.   These activities are also great when shared by the whole family.  Its a great time to socialize and model positive and encourage good manners and behaviors.  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Make Wednesday nights "Game night" after homework of course. (2 game maximum)
  2. Definitely consider all the other activities that fit into your child's schedule. So I often suggest reading, tablet games or her personal game console for extra curricular activities. For example: car rides, in between time or the doctors office.
  3. Have a "Game Night" with friends and or family.  Everyone is involved and the kids love it.
  4. Join the PTA and recommend a Family Game Night where it is possible to encourage other parents who are not sure or reluctant to embrace technology at home. 
I'm taking this opportunity to share what is working for me and my little scholar. Knowledge is power and sharing is giving.  So I hope this will encourage you to utilize your time with your family on purpose.  Its all about the kids and what will encourage growth and success in their lives.  Good Luck!
Benefits of Video Games ABC

Friday, December 13, 2013

Home School Connections

As the weeks have skated by everything seems so rushed.  I received a few notices from the teaching team at my daughters school to put it simply I appreciate the attempts to keep me current with what is going on in the classroom.  

Home school connections is the only way a parent can keep up with the latest topics, themes and activities in the classroom.  These Home School Connection notices include vocabulary words your child should know, symbols being used in the classroom, activities to practice at home and books you can buy to read that support what they are doing in the classroom. Here is an example:

So here are a few suggestions for other parents like me:

  • What I have done for my little student is created a word wall that I add to every two weeks.  
  • I have ordered books from the book list to read to her and add to my library. You can check your local library for similar text.
  • I have created a project based activity along with the suggested activities shared by the team.  This is to accommodate my child's other learning styles. 
  • I also use youtube videos for kids to research images and information for my little student.  She really enjoys a 3 to 5 minute video on topics such as tornadoes,  earthquakes and recently facts about fire.
During the transition into Common Core and standardized testing I have taken to being more involved and less shocked by the Department of Educations new realities.  I believe at times this system can hinder the growth of many to accomodate a new breed of students.  I am being proactive about her school work and my mission to be a partner in education.   I'm supporting my child through her learning and supporting these teachers who I believe love to teach.  I hope as parents and guardians you can too.  Good luck!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Parent Teacher Conference

I'm so excited to have started this blog about my daughter's and my experience with Board of Education schools and their teachers.  My first six to eight weeks have been bitter sweet.  Feeling excited daily about my daughters education and curious to what she is experiencing and how she is being assessed by others.  I have to admit I was looking forward to hearing how awesome and sweet she is.  The reality is she is sweet and quiet and that definitely communicated that she is not invested.    Problem with that is I consistently convince my child to listen and to behave for her teachers and I may have misread the demands of a Board of Education classroom.  Simply her teachers found no value in what I thought was important going into school for the first time.  What clearly needs to be happening is a drive to engage between teachers and students.  The teacher-student interaction almost needs to be competitive.   Mrs.Peters is a wonderful seasoned teacher who is full of smiles and full of valued experience and as a parent I intend to team up with her to help my child meet the common core benchmarks.   I thought "this is kindergarten how hard can it be?" but on the contrary its been a mystery for me.  I didn't realize how much of the changes in standards and criteria in grades across the state would impact kindergarten.  Kindergarten has not been excused from the growing demands on education and needless to say preschool prep is not only valuable but mandatory.   

So we had our first parent teachers conference and from the looks of  Our report card I made sure to see Mrs. Peters in the first session while she had all her energy. I came in prepared to tell her she made some mistakes in her evaluation of my daughter's progress. She explained that according to the core standards, she didn't make the marks. I saw folders, diagnostics, test scores and portfolio work which appeared to show progress but in Mrs. Peters perspective not enough.  Problem is if I use the 1 to 4 scale provided by the Board of Education her evaluation would be inconclusive because the evidence of work and test scores and Mrs. Peters opinion does not match.  As a parent I was shocked at how procedure, protocol and policy in this system really does not support the total experience for the student and teacher.  I felt my daughter in many ways had met the mark but Mrs.  Peters wanted to stay relevant in what she needs to happen moving forward.  I completely agree with that unfortunately the lines of communication were not established and she never once reached out to communicate her concerns and she did have ample opportunity since I stop in her classroom every other week to say "hi" and volunteer my time whenever she needs it.  Its unfortunate how the system does not support success for all parties.  In reflection having been in the teachers seat I completely understand we are two different people with different ideas.  

My question is how do we pull together to help my child meet those benchmarks?  How do we utilize this school and teacher to meet the demands of this awkward system where there are far too few breakthroughs?  Well for starters communication is essential in building relationships in support of the common goal.  The common goal is success.  I wanted to throw my hands up but I thought about every parent I met and every teacher I will meet.  A very good friend of mine inboxed me, her name is Mrs. Grier she is an administrator for the Brooklyn Preparatory School in New York.   I want to share what she was thinking

" involvement is vital and crucial to children's success in school. I have learned from our school's visionary and Principal.   that "Involvement [certainly] leads to increase".  As an administrator and early educator involved in  both the classroom and school management process combined at now almost 21 years, I am finding that from year to year you will have what I am now coining, parents and guardians in one of two categories: Fans  vs. Followers. You will have those who will one day praise your institution until you've dropped the ball that one time after a lengthy period of consistency in support of their child's learning and growth  or they will rally with you until the end respecting and cooperating with the educational standards, protocols, procedures, and practices set in place in the spirit of advocacy for their child's whole development. As one in facing this dilemma, I would have to ask them which one are you? A Fan or a Follower.   Is your overbusy-ness and day to day affairs affecting your ability to build resourceful relationships with your child's surrogate parent – the teacher?  Think about it…."
I immediately considered how difficult it is to be thrown into a working relationship with someone I don't know.  How important the relationship is to the future success of my child and how awkward it is to work in a system that has created a spirit of division and mistrust.  Luckily, I have other plans for my daughter school year.  I intend to bridge the gap in communication.  Also, I will work closely with Our school and Our teacher to meet the reading, writing and math goals created by the help of Mrs. Peters.  Since she is an experienced professional in this industry I will trust her expertise to get US to where we need to be.  Finally,  I do consider myself a partner in education and while your reading this think about how you will partner up with your team of teachers to win this school year!  Good luck!