Category Archives: Behavior Management

When Your Child Starts to Fall Behind {a guideline for parents}

happy boy doing homeworkby Ria Clarke 

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As much as we, as parents, like to believe that we are on top of things, there are times when we let things slide. After all, life is stressful and filled with distractions and constant interruptions. Falling behind happens to the best of us.

But what happens when you begin to notice your student making low grades, or you get a note from the teacher that there’s an issue? What’s a parent to do? Here are some practical steps to get your child back on track.

1. Identify the problem if possible. Make a mental checklist and ask yourself important questions: Have you created a dedicated learning space at home that is free from noise and distraction? Is your child getting enough sleep? Is your child over-scheduled? Have they had a recent eye or hearing test? Are they too engrossed in gadgets or television? Rule out overlooked easy-to-resolve issues, first. 

2. Communicate with the teacher. Don’t wait for the problem to mushroom. My son’s second grade teacher has after-school tutoring for children that are falling behind. During these sessions, she gives them the personalized attention that may be impossible during the regular class period. Regular communication with your child’s teacher will help nip problems in the bud before they get out of control.

Asian Mom Daughter3. Make the necessary adjustments. If you have identified that your child is over-scheduled or is not getting enough sleep, take the necessary steps to ensure that your child cuts back on extra-curricular activities or nighttime television so that he or she is well rested. Make sure your child has all the supplies and essentials handy in their homework center and make sure that distractions are kept to a minimum. And, keep yourself in the loop on their progress by checking over your child’s homework so you catch any errors or missed problems before assignments are handed in and graded.

4. Review the material. Not all teachers offer after-school tutoring, but you can help your child by spending the time to go over concepts at home. Visit your local teacher store and purchase homework helpers and various learning aids to reinforce what your child has been doing at school. Make the review sessions short but meaningful so your child doesn’t get resentful or frustrated.

5. Consider professional help. Ask your child’s teacher for references, or check your local library or go online to search for homework help or private tutors. Investigate established places like LearningRx, Omega Learning Centers, Appleton Learning, Huntington Learning Center, or Kumon for extra help.

SonKissingMom High ResIt is also important to recognize that each child is different and learns differently. Work with your child’s teacher to help your child unlock the potential that may be locked inside. It may be frustrating at first but stick with it. Remember that practice makes perfect.

Ria Clarke is the proud parent of a second grader and a toddler. She’s also a SAHM and freelance writer of various lifestyle and educational issues. When she’s not actively involved in projects and homework or chasing down a toddler, she can be found in the kitchen baking or curled up with a good book.

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Identifying Bullying: National Bullying Prevention Month

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by Diane E. Burdick, Ed.S.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. First, let’s just lay it out: bullying and relational aggression (either through passive measures or overt intimidation) is not normal and is not okay. No matter the circumstances, meanness and bullying are never warranted.

Words hurt, too.

It’s also important to note that bullying isn’t just physical– especially in our world of text and social-media bullying. The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is simply dead wrong. When a peer treats another child cruelly, it can have long-lasting impacts. Bruises can heal, but the emotional scars of bullying can last a lifetime.

And, bullying is unfortunately very common. A NCES study from the U.S. Department of Education reported that more than 31% of students between the ages of 12 and 18 were bullied at school.

But, most parents and teachers aren’t even aware of when it happens. Why? Unless your child confesses to being bullied (which is rare), the signs can be difficult to see. So, just what should parents and teachers look for?

Top signs that something’s wrong at school:

• Social anxiety

• Peer rejection

• Lowering grades

• Loneliness or depression

• Absenteeism

• Complaints of poor health

• Decreased use of electronic media

What should you do next? 

Inform: Once bullying has been identified, teachers and parents should report it to the proper authorities; this includes school administration and other teachers, coaches, or bus drivers who supervise both the bully and the victim during the day.

Document: If possible, parents should document when and where the bullying reportedly occurred. Include dates, times and locations of the incidents, as well as names of witnesses. In cases of bullying over the Internet, print transcripts of e-mails or chat sessions that can serve as proof of the incidents.

Address: Then, address the issue with both children. There is a lot of shame involved in being bullied, so reinforce to the victim that they did nothing to cause or deserve the treatment. This is a hard truth to believe, so keep reinforcing it. As for the bully, ensure that consequences are carried out by the administration, parents, or–hopefully–both. If everyone commits to working together, the cycle of abuse can be stopped.

For tips to share with kids who are being bullied on how to stand up for themselves, see this article from kidshealth.org

Source: nces.ed.gov/pubs2011/2011316.pdf

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Four Timely Reminders for all Educators

 by Mary Jane Downs

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Are you creating a teaching legacy for future generations? What wisdom can you pass down from your experiences?

My daughter graduated as an education major from Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, this past spring. As she is hunting for a teaching position and awaiting her first solo flight, I want to give her some sage advice to ponder as she anticipates the future. Here are four tips from my teaching experience that I will be sharing with my daughter, which are, perhaps, a good reminder for all of us teachers…both young and not-so-young. 

Healthy Fear

A little ‘healthy fear’ at the beginning of each year can be a good thing. You do not have all the answers yet because every class has a different make up. This keeps you willing to seek for the answers…and it can also foster a mutual respect from your students. Don’t fear the fear; embrace it as an opportunity to learn.

The Truth Behind Discipline

Discipline has a lot to do with who you are and how you present yourself. It also has to do with honesty, fairness, your example and what you expect of each student. Bad attitudes and criticism will only aggravate the challenges. Finding the good in each student and telling them so can begin to change even the most hardcore children.

Each New Day is a New Day

Let everyone have a new start each day. Don’t hold grudges against students. It will only bring more friction to a classroom. We all have bad moments, days and periods of time when our behavior reeks. Forgive and move on. Try to find out if there is a reason for a student’s behavior. Then, work to help your student learn to overcome their problems in a more positive way.

Teachable Spirit

The best teachers keep a teachable spirit throughout their career. They never think they have arrived at fully knowing everything. They continually search for the best ways to enhance their students’ learning environment. Then, when all is said and done, your students will honor and respect you for helping them learn to succeed under your watch.

Teaching is a challenge no matter how you look at it. However, starting out with the right kind of wisdom will help you build a rewarding career…and a living legacy.

Mary Jane Downs is an author, speaker and teacher who lives in the foothills of the Asheville Mountains. She loves long walks with her camera in hand, reading, hand quilting, and cooking for friends. Mary Jane has been published in Awe Magazine, Inspiredmoms.com, as well as a guest blogger. Mary Jane has found her writing and love of quilting to work well together. Quilting gives her time to think and gain insight for story ideas, and writing helps her to express those ideas and thoughts to others. Read more by Mary Jane at www.maryjanewrites.com.

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DIY Scratch-Off Card {love this!}

Looking for a unique Mother’s Day gift idea? Or a fun post-testing diversion? Or a creative way to review for the next big test? Check out this cool idea from Diane Burdick, M. Ed. 

{And let us know what you think. A comment below could land you a $20 School Box gift card. We like to reward loud mouths.}

If you’ve ever received a scratch-off card in the mail, you know the anticipation of selecting a spot and rubbing the coating off the paper…all in hopes of winning a special prize or discount. If you think those scratch-offs are only for the retail-minded or lottery-blinded among us, think again. Scratch-off solution is something you can make at home or school to create a fun craft activity (or greeting card) with your children.

Materials:

Cardstock

Drawing materials

Scissors

Contact paper (clear)

Dishwashing liquid

Metallic acrylic paint (from the craft store)

Small, flat paintbrush

Here’s how to make a greeting card:
Other options below, too. 

  • Create a card out of cardstock by folding the cardstock in half.
  • Decorate the card with a design, and then think of a message that could have three possible answers. For example, the outside of the card might say, “Guess how much I love you?” Then, inside, draw three circles. Inside one, write “To the Moon.” In another, write “To the Moon and Back.” And in the final circle, write “To Infinity and Beyond.” You will cover these three circles with scratch-off solution.
  • To make the solution, mix together one part dishwashing liquid with two parts metallic-colored acrylic paint in a disposable cup.
  • Apply a thin coat of paint to the contact paper with a small, flat paintbrush.
  • Allow the paint to dry for at least one hour, and then reapply one to two coats until paint is not streaky, allowing to dry between coats.
  • Cut the painted contact paper to the appropriate size and shape (so, circles in this case). Then peel the backing off the contact paper and apply the painted “stickers” to the correct spots on the card.
  • Make sure to put a penny down in the envelope with the card, so the recipient can scratch off their choice and see the message underneath.

Other Fun Options:

  • Reward Cards! Make scratch-off reward cards for your class. Using notecards, write various rewards on each (extra computer time, skip one problem on Math homework, serve in a class leadership role, bring a stuffed animal to school, etc.) Distribute the cards to deserving students, and let them scratch off to discover their reward. Students LOVE this!
  • Review Game. You can make up your own version of scratch-off bingo using cards you make, customized to your lessons.
  • Coupon Book. Instead of a traditional coupon book for Mother’s, Father’s or Grandparent’s Days, help students create a scratch-off card with chores the child can do or sweet messages the child writes.
  • Teacher Cards. Parents: create a card for your child’s teacher that lets the recipient choose a scratch-off square (or two) listing helpful things your student could do for the teacher. Include age-appropriate tasks, such as empty the pencil sharpener, erase the board, pick up trash from the floor, or collect trash after snack.
  • Principal Thanks. Or create a similar card for the principal, sharing the child’s favorite things about the school: What do I love most about P.S. 212 Elementary School? The teachers are nice (one scratch-off square), the playground is really fun (another), the principal is the best ever!! (the final option).

So cool, right? We’ve even seen scratch-offs used in wedding save-the-date cards, bridal and baby shower invitations, and shower games. So, now that you know how to make your own, go get crafty!

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Filed under Activities, Art, Behavior Management, Holidays, Study Skills, Test Prep

Creating a “Where Are You?” Board

by Rachel Stepp, M. Ed. 

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Do you ever have multiple students leave your classroom at once for various reasons (clinic, library, restroom, pull-out programs, etc.), and you have trouble remembering who went where? Has the fire drill ever buzzed, and you were missing children once you were outside because they were in the library? It’s time to set up an area (or wall) in your classroom where your students can display their location. This area might look different depending on the age of your students and the places they can go on their own in your school.

Magnet Board

In grades pre-k through second, it would be appropriate to have an area that displayed each child’s picture and name on a magnet. This could be a place on the magnetic white board or on a magnetic cookie sheet hung on the wall. On this area, you will create a place for each student’s picture to be displayed under the home section. At the end of the day, every student’s picture should be moved to the home area to show that they are no longer at school. In the morning, when a child first walks in the door, he or she should move their picture from “Home” to “Classroom” to show that they are present at school on the current day. When a child’s picture is shown as in the classroom, they are to be participating in classroom activities and within sight of the teacher. This is also a visual way to take attendance, without wasting time calling roll.

Other sections that you might want to include on your board are: boys’ restroom, girls’ restroom, office, clinic, library, other. Each section besides home and classroom should only have enough room for several students at a time, depending on your classroom guidelines. For example, you might only want to allow two boys to go to the restroom at the same time. If those two positions are in use on the board, then no one else should leave the classroom to use the restroom.

Students will need to learn the routine of automatically checking the board when they walk into the classroom to make sure their magnets are in the correct location. It’s important to make sure that students know that they do not need to move their picture every time the class goes somewhere as a whole group. You can also use the same picture magnets for other activities, such as to show which center students are in during center time.

Popsicle Jars

In third through fifth grades, students might find that moving their picture around feels “elementary” to them.  When students are transitioning grades and learning a new routine for leaving the classroom, you can write each child’s name on a popsicle stick and place them in different cans/jars to show their location. The jars can sit beside the classroom door so that students can access them easily when they enter or exit the room. You can also create a simple sign-in and sign-out sheet for your students. On this sheet, they would have to record their name, the time they leave, their desired location, and the time they return. This will help you keep track of your students when they are out of the classroom and in the case of an emergency.

Hopefully these ideas will give your students some responsibility when it comes to keeping track of where they are. You are one teacher in charge of many students, and anything to make the process run smoothly is worth considering!

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Filed under Behavior Management, Centers, Classroom Community, Classroom Decor, Organization

Making Homework Fun, Part II!

by Kate Wilson and Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

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As a parent, it’s up to you to set the right tone, provide the right support and create a positive atmosphere for homework time. We shared three TIPS on how to do this in Part I of this series, and now here are three more!

1. Set a goal.

Don’t you work better (and faster) when you know you’ll get to do something fun as soon as you’re done? Well, kids are the same way! So, at the start of each session, ask your child what they look forward to doing as soon as they’re done. Tell them that their goal is to finish their homework by ___(pick a concrete ending point, like 4:30), so they’ll still have plenty of time to do x. Then, if they start dragging their feet, point to the time and remind them of their fun goal.

And, sometimes a small treat may be an appropriate motivation, too. We’re not talking full-scale bribery here, but just a small reward, like a piece of her favorite candy or favorite cookie, once homework is completed. Small enticements can be very motivating!

2. Roll up your own sleeves.

Okay, so it may have been decades since you last did long division, but it’s time to polish those skills, Mom and Dad. The best way to motivate your child to do his or her homework is to be there to help them.

This doesn’t mean that you need to write the entire thing, but you should be readily available if your child needs help. Your presence cuts down on frustrations and also expedites the process; you can refer them to books and websites they may need, or help them look up an answer. Bonus: you are also modeling good study skills.

A great idea we recently heard: Use homework time to check your own e-mail and wrap up loose ends on your computer, too. Sitting with your child, say, at the kitchen table while you both work sends the message that homework time isn’t punishment; it’s important. Even for adults.

3. Talk with the teacher.

Use your child’s teacher as a resource. If your child seems to be struggling (something you will also be able to observe if you’re there to help with homework), or if homework is taking an inordinate amount of time even when your child applies himself, there may be an underlying issue. Ask your child’s teacher is he or she observes similar issues at school.

And, if you feel that too much homework is being assigned, you can politely broach that subject with the teacher, as well. Ask the teacher: “How long should it be taking for ___ to complete his/her homework assignments? I’m asking because homework seems to be taking several hours each night, and I don’t know if this is normal.”

Okay, so your child still may not be begging to do their homework after implementing these tips, but hopefully the process is a little less arduous, a little less fuss, and a lot more productive. And maybe, just maybe, even fun.

Kate Wilson is a professional blogger who enjoys writing about child development issues. She is also a cook, avid reader, and environmental enthusiast. 

Elizabeth D. Cossick, M. Ed. has a bachelors in education from The University of Georgia and a masters in curriculum and instruction from Lesley University, Cambridge. In addition to being the editor of A Learning Experience, she publishes Little Black Dress | Little Red Wagon Magazine. She resides in Atlanta with her husband, two young children, and a frisky Westie named Munson.

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First Day of School

by Kelli Lewis, M. Ed.

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It’s that time of the year again…the time when you begin to think about how you’re going to start off the school year with your new set of students. Possibly you’ve been doing this for several years and have everything pretty much decided, but you’d like a fresh idea or two. Perhaps you’re starting your first year as a brand new teacher and don’t have much of a clue as to where to start. Whatever your experiences and reasoning for needing some worry-free tips, there is no need in worrying any longer. Here are some suggestions that are sure to be the perfect prescription to relieve those first-day-of-school worries.

1. Be sure to greet each and every one of your students at the door when they come in.

2. Have a fun activity on their desks for them to do.

3. Make nametags for students to wear for first week or so, until you feel that you’ve got their names down pat (and to help them learn each others’ names, too).

4. Have a meeting on the reading rug to hold some “get to know me” discussions, so that the students know who their teacher is. Be sure to include pictures of you, your family, pets, etc.

5. Read The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn

This charming book is about a young raccoon who is reluctant to go to school…until he gets some wisdom from his mother.

6. Take students on a school tour and hunt for “Chester.” You can use any name for any stuffed animal of some type. Have clues along the way so that students get acquainted with their school while having fun searching for the little critter you hid ahead of time!

7. Discuss expectations, behavior, and create class rules/norms together as a class family. Allow students to work together with you to create the rules, allowing them a say-so in how their classroom will run.

8. Allow students to make something for their parents. “What did you think/learn on your first day of ___ grade?”

9. Send students home with labels that indicate their transportation, bus #, etc.

10. Send home a letter to parents…welcoming them, and letting them know what a wonderful first day you had meeting their student. Be sure to share with them what you did on their first day and their agreement to the classroom rules/norms, as well as your expectations of their student and of them.

Kelli Lewis, M. Ed. recently received her masters degree from The University of Georgia and is currently staying busy setting up her third-grade classroom!

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Classroom Makeover Part III: Behavior Management Procedures

by Kelli Lewis, M. Ed.

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Summer is the perfect time (read: only time) for teachers to think about giving their classrooms and procedures a spiffy little makeover. This three-part series shares a few ideas for polishing up your reading corner (Part I), procedures (Part II), and discipline (Part III). It’s makeover time!

Tackling Tattling: Refreshing Discipline Tactics

Complaint Box

Do you want a new way to handle complaining issues in your classroom? This idea will help students get over their complaints, clear their minds, and move on!

Students tattling or nagging about little things can use this as a way to vent, without bogging you down with non-essentials.

Create a Safe Spot: First, designate a special box (or trash can, so students know they are literally “throwing away” their complaint). Then, put strips of paper next to it, where students can write down their complaint before depositing it into the box/can.

The Power of Writing: By writing it down and giving it up, students learn an effective strategy to get rid of a complaint and move on with their day.

To Read or Not to Read: These can either be private (no one–not even you–will read them), or if you would like to read them, just tell your students they’ll remain between them and you. Some situations may warrant further action on your part, but mostly, you’ll find that the complaints in this box resolve themselves.

“Help Me Find a Resolution” Box

Sometimes student issues are a little bigger and do need an intervention on your part. Here’s where students can go when it’s not an appropriate time to vent to you, but they do need your help.

Create a Safe Spot: Designate a box or mailbox where students can write down issues they’re having with someone (even another student). They drop their paper in the box and “put it on hold” for now. They need not let it bother them for the rest of the day because they know it will be discussed later.

Resolve Every Morning: This box is opened every morning, during Morning Meeting, and the teacher reads them one by one. (Obviously, you need to read through them beforehand, to make sure they’re appropriate to read aloud. Some may best be dealt with privately, and some may need to be tossed–or given back to the student to transfer to the “Complaint Box,” above.)

The student who wrote the issue then states whether they still need to discuss it or if it has been resolved since they wrote it. If it has been resolved, it is tossed. If it is still an issue, students work together to determine ways to deal with it. Maybe there needs to be an apology. Maybe the people involved need to discuss their reasoning for doing what they did, as well as how they were feeling.

Peer Feedback: If need be, the other students can give suggestions to their peers on how they could have handled the issue differently.

Students need to be aware that this isn’t a place to put little bitty tattlings that they can resolve on their own (that’s the “Complaint Box”). This is where they come when they’ve tried to resolve it, but still need help.

If done correctly and with sensitivity, this Resolutions Box builds a sense of a classroom “family” where the students care about each other…and are held accountable for how they treat each other.

Talk to the Ear

This idea reminds me of that good ‘ol saying from a few years back: “Talk to the hand.”

This idea works best with younger elementary students–and is a good option for pre-writers who can’t use the two ideas above.

Post an Ear: Post a laminated picture of an ear in a corner of the room. Or–if you have access to one–put a plastic ear on an inconspicuous student-accessible shelf or table.

Redirect to the Ear: When a student comes to you with a trivial issue, tell them to “go tell the ear.” They can then go over to the ear and whisper their complaint or issue.

Of course, this only works with younger students–and should only be used when the issue really is trivial. But, surprisingly, it makes young students feel like they have been “heard” and helps them get on with their day…now that they’ve voiced their concern to a “listening ear.”

Kelli Lewis, M. Ed. recently received her masters degree from The University of Georgia and is currently staying busy setting up her third-grade classroom!

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Combatting School Stress: Removing the “Grind” from Back-to-the-Grind

adapted from an article by Daniela Baker

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So, in less than a month, summer will be drawing to a close. *big sigh* Are your kids excited about the new school year? Nervous? Filled with dread? Whatever their emotions, here’s a rundown of how to help them (and possibly yourself!) stay stress-free this year.

Why all the stress?

So, first, let’s peek into the brain of a child and see where all this stress is coming from, shall we? Here are the top reasons that children experience school-related stress:

• Being away from home

• Adjusting to new routines

• Worrying about not making new friends

• Fearing punishment from teacher and other school staff

• Fearing not being able to perform as well as classmates

• Worrying about not being able to complete homework assignments

That’s a lot going on in the head of our wee ones, isn’t it? So, let’s see how all this pressure can affect them:

What childhood stress may look like

• Physical: nausea, stomach aches, headaches, wetting

• Emotional: fear, anxiety, irritability, depression

• Behavioral: crying, temper tantrums, repetitive movements (rocking, humming)

• Interpersonal relationships: withdrawal, isolation, extreme shyness, or bullying and teasing

How these symptoms play out depends on the individual child: one child may become depressed and withdraw from others, while another child may experience headaches, and another may lash out through teasing and bullying. In a school setting, stress reactions may also include difficulty focusing, inability to follow directions, or failure to complete in-class assignments.

Helping your child cope with stress

Okay, now here’s why you started reading to begin with: What you can do to help your child. According to Virginia Molgaard, Human Development and Family Studies of the Iowa State University Extension Center, there are several strategies to help your child effectively cope with school-related stress:

• Talk It Out. Encourage your child to talk about whatever stress s/he is experiencing. Allow your child to start the conversation rather than force it by asking too many questions. A good time to do this is at snack time when they first come home from school or during bedtime. Rather than asking “What’s wrong?” ask “How was your day?” a more open-ended question that allows your child to decide how much to disclose. Remain non-judgmental about what your child tells you so that he or she feels comfortable sharing.

• Work It Out. Participate in a family-oriented exercise program, such as biking hiking, or swimming to reduce stress levels.

• Bond One-on-One. Devote specific periods for one-on-one time. Identify hobbies or other activities that you and your child can do together. This provides a great way to have fun with your child while also fostering conversation.

• Eat Right. Maintaining healthy eating habits will teach your child that good nutrition enables their bodies to better cope with stressful situations.

• Relax Together. Teach relaxation techniques. One method is to have them sit quietly and take slow breaths while visualizing pleasant scenes such as a past birthday party, vacation, or other happy occasion. As with a healthy diet, relaxation provides a boost to the immune system helping the body to ward of the negative side-effects of stress.

• Hug, Hug, Hug. Provide plenty of physical comfort such as hugs and back rubs as these help your child feel secure and relax. Gentle touch is a very strong stress reducer.

• Combat Perfectionism. Teach your child that mistakes are okay and just part of the learning process. Everyone makes mistakes (including parents!)

• Set Rules and Consequences. Clearly define the ground rules for misconduct by letting your child know what is expected of him or her and together deciding on the consequences. Be sure to follow through as children need consistency in both word and deed.

• Role Play. Role play different ways to handle stressful situations. If your child will be starting school, use your child’s stuffed toys or dolls to act out the first day so they can know what to expect. It may be a good idea to confer with their teacher regarding the schedule so your role play can be genuine.

• Role Model. Share stories from your own life regarding how you handled stressful situations. Tailor your story to what your child is experiencing. For example, if your child is fearful, describe a situation in which you were afraid and how you coped with it. You can also read a story in a book that illustrates how different children cope with stressful situations.

Life is stressful. It is in how we cope with it that counts. Just think how better equipped your child will be for life after you help them through their school-time stress. Watching your child struggle is never fun– but teaching them lessons they’ll have for life is priceless.

Daniela Baker is a mother of two and a blogger at CreditDonkey, where she shares tips on college student credit cards and budgeting for success. 

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Attention Grabbers (Keep students’ attention…even in May!)

by Bobbie Brownell

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Almost every teacher, whether they went to Yale or got their teaching degree online, thinks about using a big attention grabber to start class…especially in these final weeks of the school year when spring fever is rampant. Attention grabbers can range from a simple question to an elaborate demonstration. Either way, the message is clear: Wake up! Time to learn!

When to use an attention grabber:

  • Quiet a noisy room
  • Introduce a new topic
  • Motivate students
  • Demonstrate a theory or natural occurrence
  • Ward off summeritis

Have fun getting their attention, just be careful that the attention grabber does not take away from the overall meaning of the lesson. Try to keep their focus on the learning objectives. This benefits everyone in class and helps by taking away unnecessary distractions. We all know how easy it is to get the students’ minds off of the material. Daniel Willingham’s explanation on why students remember or forget material learned in class is linked to what the students are thinking about while new material is being introduced.

Questions to consider before using an attention grabber:

• Is the attention grabber relevant to the lesson?

• Could this be done in the middle of the lesson if students start to zone out?

• Will students be engaged and motivated to learn afterward?

• Will this continue to distract the students after the demonstration is over?

Tips to motivate:

• Timing is key – Try using relevant attention grabbers in the middle of the lesson. Students tend to mentally check out around the half-way point of class. This is a great time to reel them back in with something stimulating like a thought-provoking or a controversial question for them to discuss or write about.

• Give choices – If motivation is lacking, give the students a chance to have some input in what they are learning. Giving choices on what to read or research can be a huge motivator because it allows students to learn about something they are interested in. Have students come up with their own writing prompts; you’ll be surprised by all the brilliant ideas!

• Ask questions – Ask the students thought provoking questions to start a class discussion. Discussion is an invaluable tool since it invites the entire class to become involved with the lesson and with each other. Try something like, “Is murder ever justified?” or “What do you think would be different if this classroom was in Paris?” Use anything to get them thinking and talking.

• Relate concepts to the real world – Teachers sometimes forget that the best way to learn something is the simplest way. Ask yourself, “How did I learn this?” and “How does what we’re learning relate to the outside world?” Real-world examples work because students can relate to them. At any age, we learn by making connections from things we know to new ideas and experiences. Using examples that can be found or repeated at home can help deepen the understanding between the concept and the individual student.

Transitioning into new subjects is difficult for both teachers and students. Make it fun and be creative! Paying attention to transitions will make the change easier for everyone involved. Tricky Transitions…Made Easier! is a great example of thinking about transitions and how they can be used in a younger classroom environment.

Bobbie Brownell holds a bachelors degree in English and is currently in the NC Teach program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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Filed under Activities, Behavior Management, Critical Thinking, Discipline, Motivation