Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Teaching New Dogs Old Tricks

Old Tricks for New Dogs?
Teaching 21st Century Students 20th, 19th, and 18th Century Skills

by Mikey Smith, M.Ed

A major catchphrase in education today is the term "Twenty-First Century Skills." These abilities include skills that will better prepare our students to take on challenges the future holds and include concepts like problem-solving, working collaboratively, integrating technology and media literacy. While no one is saying that these skills are not important and vital to our childrens' futures, what about the skills that are getting left behind? Classes like shop, home economics, keyboarding and the like are nowhere to be found on many school curriculum maps. But just because these skills are no longer being taught in schools does not mean that our students don't need to know them for the future. Here are a few 18th, 19th and 20th century skills that would probably be a good idea for your child to learn.

Budgeting & Banking Basics
Americans are in more debt now than ever, and much of that debt belongs to young people. As a matter of fact, a 2013 Ohio State University study found that young adults are racking up credit card debt at a more rapid rate than other age groups, and that they're slower at paying it off. It is even predicted that many new college graduates and other young adults will NEVER pay off their debts. Many kids and even young adults have no concept of the value of a dollar or how finances work. Why not give your kid insight into how to create a budget, how to save money and how to determine whether or not to make a purchase? Some lessons in fiscal responsibility today might help your child become a wiser consumer and avoid debt later.

Cooking Basics
Many parents cringe at the idea of giving their children sharp objects like knives or access to potentially dangerous appliances like an oven or stove. But there is no reason to think that most kids can't manage to make some basic meals that do not come out of a can or the microwave.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer Literacy by Mikey Smith

Summer Literacy
Creative Ways to Keep ALL Kids
Intellectually Engaged this Summer
by Mikey Smith, M.Ed
We have all read the articles and seen the research about so-called "Summer Slide." The message is clear: kids whose brains remain engaged over the summer fare better academically once the new school year rolls around.  Many schools have jumped on board the anti-brain drain bandwagon, sending home packets and packets of worksheets to keep kids busy during summer months. While schools should be applauded for addressing the issue of Summer Slide, not every kid is thrilled to crack open a novel and answer questions or write essays about what they did over the summer.

So what are some fresh ways to keep kids engaged and reading and writing during the summer months? For starters, mother of two Lorien Martinez has a simple but effective suggestion. "My kids have to read 30 minutes a day BEFORE any electronics," she says. Middle school teacher Summer Magee offers a twist on this idea of reading regularly during the summer: having kids take on trilogies and series books with - here's the twist - their parents!