Recently, James Ford, the 2015 North Carolina State Teacher of the Year wrote an article of interest for parents. He said that the concepts presented by psychologist Abraham Maslow must come before those researched by educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom. This statement may be confusing to parents who never studied psychology or had teacher preparation classes. However, as a parent and teacher, I can attest that this advice is golden!
What does this all mean?
Look at the hierarchies pictured above. Maslow focuses on the socio-emotional aspect of education, while Bloom’s emphasis is on the intellectual education of the child. Going from bottom to top of Maslow’s pyramid, parents should see that meeting basic needs is paramount for educational success. Progressing to the top of the pyramid, Maslow realizes that a sense of safety, belonging, and self-esteem are necessary for the child to be able synthesize the information he or she receives in school. On the other hand, Bloom noticed that children progress through six steps of understanding a concept from learning about it to creating their own methods of understanding. Do you see how easily Bloom follows Maslow?
What happens at home?
Parents are a child’s first teachers. So, it logically follows that Bloom should follow Maslow at home as well. If a child feels threatened, unsafe, unloved, and unappreciated, the ability to learn cannot be achieved. Conversely, if children feel that their physiological needs are met they live in a safe environment, and feel loved and respected, those children have a much better ability to learn both at home and in school. Look at it this way: You could bring home from the library every book they have on weather, but unless your child feels comfortable in his or her environment, learning about that topic simply will not be optimized.
How can parents implement Maslow’s philosophies at home?
Most of these recommendations may see mundane, but to some parents, they can be challenging.
- Make sure your child’s basic physical needs are met – healthy food and beverages, warm blankets on a cold night, and clean clothes (if you child is old enough, that can be a personal chore!)
- Ensure that a responsible adult is home with young children. (Check with the legal requirements in your state regarding the age for leaving children alone. I recommend at least age 13.) If that is not possible, arrange for before and after school care. Research reliable babysitters for your evenings out. Also, care for your child’s health requirements as they occur – regular dental and physical checkups, plus sick or emergency care as needed.
- Have regular contact with extended family, if possible. Invite your child’s friends over so you can meet them. Basically, make sure that your child has family and friends he or she can rely on.
- Respect and self-esteem are huge components of Maslow’s system. Children learn respect when they feel respected by their parents. Children will always test their parent’s authority – it’s in their job description! However, when those misdemeanors occur, help your children to see that you still love them, you just don’t appreciate what they did. And that is the essence of respect with the ensuing result of personal self-esteem: Respect the child’s decision, but gently reprimand for the action.
- Finally, accept your child’s creativity in all its forms. Creativity can be messy, disorganized, and sometimes downright dirty, especially when playing outside. Accept the spontaneity that comes from this creativity and build on it, so your child sees that you are equally interested in the topic.
Can you also follow Bloom at home?
Of course you can! Education exists at school and at home, but probably indifferent ways.
- Show your child mnemonics to help him or her remember facts. Also, if your child is interested in a specific topic like trucks, animals, or princesses, built on that interest. Use flash cards with those images on them to aid in memorization tasks like times tables.
- Discuss the day’s homework, rather than asking your child to complete it within a certain time slot. In other words, sit with your child while he or she does homework to expand the assignment while you check for accuracy. I know this involves taking time from your own chores like preparing meals or checking emails, but the time is well spent.
- Encourage experimentation beyond what they learned in school. For example, if it is Veteran’s Day, and your child learned about the history of the day, encourage your child to plan ways that you, as a family, can help veterans in your area.
- Allow your children to analyze patterns with the new knowledge that they gained in school. Ask poignant questions about what they learned and how they can apply that knowledge at home. Example: If the topic of the day in first grade was three-dimensional shapes, then see if your young learner wants to make a notebook of cubes, cylinders, and pyramids around the house.
- Make something new from the concepts learned in school. This might require some creative thought by you, the parents, but your children will benefit from this effort. If your child learned a new science concept, see if your child can develop a related art project.
- Finally, allow your child to find new ways to learn, research his or her own topics, and develop new ideas based on old knowledge. This is the foundation of creative and critical thinking skills that are necessary to be successful in modern society.
Are you up for the challenge? Can you put Maslow before Bloom in your home? Your children will thrive in their educational garden at home, as well as in school!
Super Bowl Weekend – football, wings, nachos, and… STEM? Yes, this can be a teaching moment between you and your kids. Not during the game, of course, but maybe on Saturday or Sunday afternoon! Try this math game from our book, Everybody Cooks! STEM Facts and Recipes for Family Cooperation and Healthier Eating – Holiday Favorites Edition. In this downloadable edition of the cookbook, which you can read immediately, you’ll also find the recipe for nutritious and delicious zucchini “fries” and dip on page 24. This and all other recipes include complete directions for cooperative family participation, easy-to-understand nutritional information, and of course, a STEM component. Enjoy this math football game before the BIG game and “fries” as a snack during the Super Bowl!
Football Math Game
To get ready for the big game, you can also get ready to play a football math game!
Draw a hundred-yard grid on a piece of paper like a football field.
Make sets of 20 or more grade-appropriate math flash cards from each child’s textbook. Get a timer – turns last only one minute to solve. If the player takes longer, that player loses a turn.
Create ADVANCE and PENALTY cards (see below)
Toss dice or use a spinner to see who will go first. Highest number wins.
Answer a question correctly and draw an ADVANCE card. After two correct answers, the turn passes to the player or team on the left.
Answer a question incorrectly and draw a PENALTY card. The other player or team takes over.
Game ends when one person or team gets 3 touchdowns.
ADVANCE cards: Make five of each: 5 yards, 10 yards, 20 yards. Make 2 of each: Touchdown, and field goal
PENALTY cards: Make five of each: 0 yards, -5 yards, -10 yards, -20 yards
Use this game as a model for other games in different seasons – basketball math, baseball math, soccer math, etc. Have fun making up question cards!
Most parents read to their children at least once a day, probably at bedtime. And most parents generally let their children choose which book they want to “read” each night. It may be annoying to the parent, but sometimes kids just want to hear the same book over and over because they get a warm fuzzy feeling from hearing the story.
However, is it just the words that are interesting? Or the parent’s interesting voices that capture the child’s attention? Or maybe the colorful pictures? The answer is probably all of the above plus one more aspect of story time – the “conversation” between child and parent. This conversation begins young when a one-year-old tries to mimic sounds in a book and the parent mimics those sounds back to the child. This mirror-image reading provides a strong foundation for both reading and conversational skills. As the child gets older, many parents ask questions about the pictures that allows the child to provide input to the story time while snuggling on the bed. Even a simple, “What do you think will happen next?” is enough to cause children to label a certain book as a favorite.
Choosing books and accompanying activities that will foster this two-way conversation is important. Here are some guidelines for different age groups:
- Birth to one year: Babies react positively to images of faces. Pointing to the nose on the picture, the child’s nose, and the parent’s nose will soon have the baby linking the word to the object. Recently, social media networks have been making books available from the pictures posted on their sites. What a wonderful way to capture pictures of friends and family members in a book for babies to see during story time!
- One to two years: Toddlers love to see pictures of animals – both photographs and drawings. Add to your child’s story experience by choosing books with tactile additions like fur to pet or scales to touch. Children also like characters with names. Even if the author didn’t provide a character’s name, make up a name. Your child becomes more connected with more relevant details.
- Two to three years: Children at this age are beginning to look for more meaningful content in their books. Look for books that have rhymes that your child can repeat. Find books that help your child connect with everyday events so you can discuss them while reading the book. For example, if you saw a rainbow after a storm, read your child a book like, Where’s Green? and ask questions about the colors he or she sees around the room. Any time you can engage a child in conversation about a book will guarantee that you are building a strong conversationalist and lifelong reader.
- Three to four years: By this age, your child is exploring how things work. Add your own tactile stimulation to a book experience. If your child chose a book about dinosaurs, then allow him or her to hold a toy dinosaur while you read. Saying, “Which parts of a dinosaur are used for eating its dinner?” This is much more effective for conversation than saying, “Remember what your T-Rex looks like?”
- Four to five years: Most of the books we have been recommending have been nonfiction or fiction based on fact. By four years old, your child has probably begun to understand the difference between fact and fiction. (Remember the lie about who took the cookie?) These fiction books can also be used to engage your child in meaningful conversation. Ask your child if you think the author might have ended the story differently or whether the character would behave differently in a different situation. This develops more than the reading and conversation skills, it also develops creative thinking skills which are so important in modern society.
- Five to six years old: By this time, your child will begin to recognize simple words. Find books written for the beginning reader that have short words in a large font with colorful pictures. Point to each word. If your child can say the word, reward with a pat on the back. Read words that are more difficult. Do you see the “conversation” continuing until the child can read entirely on his or her own?
So, reading TO your child simply isn’t enough to start your child on a lifelong love of reading and meaningful conversation with others. It is essential to use voices (as recommended in a previous blog post on January 2, 2018) and involve your child in a give-and-take discussion regarding the words and pictures in each book.
A recent article by Ryan Rahardjo, Public Policy and Government Relations Senior Analyst for Google Indonesia illustrated the value of reading to children using different voices for different characters. As an example, Rahardjo presented Siti Arofa, who teaches first grade in Gresik, East Java. Many of her students start the school year without basic reading skills or even an awareness of how fun books can be. She noticed that whenever she read out loud using different expressions and voices, the kids would sit up and their faces would light up with excitement. Developing this love for books and storytelling has helped Arofa’s students improve their reading and speaking skills as they mimic her style of reading.
How does this information impact your story time as a parent or teacher? Make story time more interesting in a variety of ways:
- Try the different voices recommended by Siti Arofa. A large bear might have a deep voice while a bird might use a squeaky voice. This also helps children to identify the speaker even if dialogue tags like “she said” are not used in the text.
- Use facial expressions. Read with a frown while describing a sad or worried character, or a smile while reading about a happy character.
- Add gestures. If a character flies over the rooftops, zoom with your hand over the child’s head. Or stomp your feet when the character walks into the room. Don’t be surprised if your child follows your lead with a giggle.
- Consider adding props. If you are reading What’s the Matter?, the EnteleTrons® story about Ice who doesn’t want to change into water, place an ice cube in a saucer to observe the change of state while you read.
- Ask children to add their own sound effects. For example, in Where’s Green?, another EnteleTrons® story, there are raindrops that refract the sunlight into rainbows. Whenever you see raindrops on the page, coach your child to say, “Drip, drip, drip.”
A monotone voice has a monotonous effect on children. They lose interest, fail to learn from the story, and are easily distracted. Stop reading like a robot and start reading like an spellbinding storyteller and your children will definitely have more interest in their books – now and for a lifetime. ~Renee Heiss, children’s author~
There’s a growing drumbeat regarding the need for improved STEM education — education in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. And rightfully so. There are now over 7 billion people inhabiting this Earth — all competing for resources, sometimes creating conflict, and certainly contributing to our collective advancement as a truly global society.
Given the nature of the STEM topics, “hands-on” programs are essential — and there are a lot of good people doing a lot of good work developing new programs — but mainly focusing on high school and middle school teachers and students — with far less attention given to elementary school children.
Since there will always be a need to teach children to read — what if we were able to teach basic science concepts, at an earlier age, in a way that is engaging, taking full advantage of our schools’ standard reading and literacy curriculum?
We know this is possible — so we are taking a different path — and here’s why:
1. We know that early exposure to STEM fields strongly influences career plans.
2. We also know that character development is equally important for members of a global society — character development makes a huge difference in how children’s brains develop — and when children use positive character traits to solve problems, conflict decreases.
3. Finally, we know that when children are in a fun, comfortable environment, they learn more quickly.
So we have created a new category of children’s books — TheEnteleTrons® series, in hard copy and e-book versions — which blend both STEM topics and character education themes in a fun environment. The EnteleTrons™ are three, basic sub-atomic particles that come to life and lead young readers through adventures around the universe, teaching wholesome and scientifically-sound material.
We are now poised to expand the series, translate to different languages, and move into newer, multi-media and animation formats to enhance appeal by combining education with entertainment — and we’re excited about the broad and long-term possibilities.
Thank you for visiting Entelechy Education… Turning potential into reality through education. Contact us for ways you can become part of this expanding initiative.
Children learn an average of 4,000 to 12,000 new words each year as a result of reading books. Research has shown that children who read even ten minutes a day outside of school experience substantially higher rates of vocabulary growth between second and fifth grade than children who do little or no reading. Here are some suggestions for building your child’s vocabulary through a home library:
- A child should have a wide variety of book themes – not just those he or she finds interesting. Naturally, your home does not need to look like the children’s section of your local library. However, you could have a rotating rack of books for your child’s selection at all times. Rotating? How does that happen? Easy – trade books with friends, go to a local book exchange, or set up a book exchange in your child’s school.
- A child should be encouraged to read at least half an hour each day. How do you do that? The best way is by role modeling. If families set aside a Family Reading Time after dinner or before bedtime, the children will begin to expect this activity and plan for the next book they want to read. The best part of this plan is that the “technology” is put down for at least part of the child’s day!
- A child should be encouraged to share the knowledge gained from reading a book. You don’t have to have a family weekly book club discussion, although that might not be a bad idea if you can find the time! Instead, you could have a family book bulletin board where family members post the title of book they just finished with a brief summary or a drawn picture. Divide the bulletin board by age range. Decorate it seasonally – make it attractive to encourage participation!
- A child should enjoy reading. This is the single most important item in a Child’s Bill of Literary Rights. If a child enjoys reading, he or she will develop a mature vocabulary that will help him to lead a successful life in school and beyond into adulthood. Consider these statistics and then restructure your family time to include a time to help children enjoy books of all kinds – both fiction and nonfiction.
Visit your library frequently. Get individual tote bags for each child to proudly carry books to and from the library. Share your love of reading with other families, especially relatives. By the time your child reaches high school and beyond, that love of reading will be so ingrained, it will live with them forever.
The EnteleTrons® books are a perfect addition to family reading time. Children learn intellectual STEM topics and moral lessons while they increase their literacy and love of learning through reading about the adventures of the EnteleTrons®.
Try this experiment: On a day when the temperature is below freezing and there is no wind, go outside for a few minutes and blow some bubbles onto a hard surface like the sidewalk. Watch your bubbles freeze hard! If you want to try this on a warmer day, blow some bubbles onto a paper plate. Freeze the bubble for at least 1 minute. Close the freezer door and wait 1 minute before opening it and checking on the bubble. Each bubble freezes differently, depending on what type of bubble solution you used and how the ice crystals arranged themselves. Some bubbles develop pretty patterns, while others turn frosty. Experiment with different solutions and even food coloring! For extra fun, photograph your frozen bubbles and create a scrapbook!
Help your child to give the gift of comfort and relaxation!
What You Need:
Blender or food processor
Cookie cutters or ice cube trays
Vanilla extract or lavender oil
Food coloring (optional)
What You Do:
1. Ask your child to pour 1/4 cup Epsom salts in a blender or food processor. Then whirr it to create a fine powder. If you don’t have those appliances, put the Epsom salts in a zippered bag and crush the granules by rolling over the bag with a rolling pin… or use a sifter.
2. Next, invite your child to put the blended Epsom salts into a mixing bowl and add 1 cup of baking soda. Mix them together well with a wooden spoon. Set aside.
3. Now add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to a spray bottle that contains 1/4 cup water, along with a couple drops of vanilla extract or lavender oil. You can also add a couple drops of natural food coloring to make her bath fizzlers colorful! (Information on natural food coloring can be found in Everybody Cooks! STEM Facts and Recipes for Family Cooperation and Healthier Eating – Holiday Favorites Edition, page 27).
4. Show your child how to spray the liquid mixture onto the dry ingredients. Carefully start stirring. When the liquid is sprayed onto the dry ingredients, she you may see a slight bubbling. That’s baking soda reacting with the acid in the lemon juice to release carbon dioxide gas.
5. Once the mixture starts resembling damp sand and begins holding together, it’s ready to be molded. Your child can press the sandy bath salts into the cookie cutters or ice cube trays. Then gently tap them out onto a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper. Let them dry overnight.
6. The dried fizzing bath soaps can be wrapped in clear plastic wrap and tied with a ribbon to give as gifts, or your child can enjoy one of her handmade fizzlers in her next bath! Make sure you include a tag that tells what these are and that they are not edible treats!
Wondering what’s so special about Epsom salts in a bath? Here’s your answer: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/use-epsom-salts-13-wonderful-ways.html
It’s a snowy Sunday morning – let’s look for ways to have some family fun!
- Still too cold to go outside and play? And the kids want to watch TV? Let them – but as a family, and for a limited time! “Kids should be doing things that are intellectually enriching: playing with board games, playing with things that will improve their motor skills, and reading,” says the lead author of the study, Linda Pagani, Ph.D., a professor in the School of Psychoeducation at the University of Montreal, in Quebec. Additionally, TV should be viewed as a family so you can discuss what your children are watching.
- Read the ingredients on the box of muffin mix – then make some muffins from scratch! Many mixes have controversial ingredients such as partially hydrogenated oils, artificial colors, and BHT. Hydrogenation of oil is unhealthy because of its unnatural use of hydrogenation which forms trans-fats that the body cannot break down and digest. Artificial colors such as Red 40 may contribute to cancer and could trigger hyperactivity in children. The FDA says that the possibility that BHT may convert other ingested substances into toxic or cancer-causing additives should be further investigated. BHT is prohibited as a food additive in the United Kingdom. It’s best to start from “scratch!”
- Work together for a cleaner, more organized home. Sound like drudgery? Not if you put on music and dance to the beat while you work. Just as teachers have turned from direct instruction to cooperative learning, families need to transform from the single-cook and maid model to the cooperative system. Everybody can help prepare the meal. Everybody can help clean up. And everybody can take pride in a job well done. A snowy day is a good time to make a duty roster, that can be agreed upon by everyone in the family. Distribute the load for an easier meal preparation experience and a happier home where everyone has more time to do what they want.
- Look for educational opportunities. Kitchen activities are loaded with opportunities to learn STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), social studies, and problem-solving. When your children help prepare the muffins, they learn measurement, how to follow directions, nutritional lessons, kitchen safety, and depending on your recipe, food from a different culture. Always look for teachable moments! For help with kitchen fun on a snowy day, get a copy (paperback or downloadable for instant access!) of Everybody Cooks! STEM Facts and Recipes for Family Cooperation and Healthier Eating – Holiday Favorites Edition.
So here’s how your snowy morning might go…
First, tell your family that you’re going to have fun in the kitchen and ask the kids to temporarily turn off the TV or leave their tablet (Don’t cut them off cold turkey at first – you’ll likely get opposition). Next, assign tasks by age and/or ability. Third, put on some music for added fun. Surprise your family with the new way of preparing a snoy day breakfast.
Everyone eagerly puts on an apron and washes their hands. You show them the recipe of the day, hand out assignments, and begin the muffin preparation. Eight-year-old Amanda measures the ingredients and hands the measuring cup to Jack. Five-year-old Jack knows that his job is to carefully put the measured ingredients into the bowl. Twelve-year-old Linda stirs the mixture and pours it into the muffin pan. One of the adults turns on the oven and places the muffins into the oven. While the muffins bake, everyone participates in cleaning up the utensils and setting the table for breakfast. Twenty minutes later, everyone tells what they learned and how they are proud of their accomplishments.
In addition to the intellectual lessons, this family is connecting on a personal level that does not involve electronics – no TV, no computer, and no phone. Good old conversation and cooperation have replaced somewhat violent cartoon programs and the impersonal detachment that comes with reading emails and text messages.
It’s time to start the fun in your house!