How To Prevent Bullying In The Pre-K Through 3rd Grade Classroom.

Kick Bullying to the Curb

How to prevent bullying in the Pre-K through 3rd Grade Classroom.

When thinking about bullying, I find many parents and teachers immediately gravitate to the image of a middle or high school student showing cruelty to their classmates. In reality, bullying starts much younger than this (as early as Pre-K!). Often, by the time
young children hit their pre-teens their ‘bully’ personalities have already begun to make mischief. This is why it’s so important to teach fairness, sharing, and compassion from an early age.
My experiences with parents and teachers who deal with a bully and bullied children led to the creation of Stanley the Snack Snatcher. This short, compelling story provides teachers and parents with a tool to begin conversations about bullying. In addition, there are a number of strategies teachers can use to prevent bullying in the classroom, including creating a classroom community, involving parents, and keeping an
open dialogue.

Create a Classroom Community.

Bullying often stems from kids who are isolated: isolated from their peers, their families, or their communities. One way to prevent bullying is to make sure every student in your classroom feels like a valued member of the classroom community.
There are many ways to do this, but one that many teachers use is a daily circle time with an activity called “Give, Get, Pass.” Each student gets a turn in the circle, and when it is
their turn, they can choose to give a compliment to the classmate of their choice, get a compliment from a classmate of their choice, or simply pass. At first, this activity is very surface level- “I like your clothes. I like your hair,” but with time, grows much more meaningful and really makes each student feel valued. Another circle time activity is a daily share, where one or two students share anything they want- something they did at home, something they’re excited about, something that happened at lunch. Other students actively listen and ask questions about the sharing
topic.
The activity itself isn’t as important as the intention behind it; encouraging compassion, understanding, and a safe place to share. Outside of circle time, this community can be emphasized by promoting collaboration and discussion. Showing each child that their opinion is valued, not just by the teacher, but also by their peers, is crucial to building empathy.

Involve Parents

 No parent wants to hear that their child is bullying or being bullied, but the sooner parents are involved, the better. Teachers should immediately communicate any concerns about bullying to the parents of the bully and the bullied. This can help in two main ways.
First, parents will be able to speak with their children at home. In some cases, this may be all the redirection they need. In doing this, parents have the opportunity to help their child learn empathy and sharing.
Second, parents can often shed light on why bullying might be happening. Perhaps there are changes at home- a new baby, a new job, a new routine. Even small changes can seem drastic to young children, so making sure that teachers and parents are partners with open communication is key.
Keep an open dialogue about bullying. Each child arrives with different experiences, backgrounds, and ideas about their world.
As you guide them through the school year, it’s important to embrace and value these differences. Even more important is maintaining a dialogue around these difference as well as behavioral red flags. Young children often know right from wrong, but it is a lesson that needs to be reinforced. Talk to your class about bully behavior and why it is wrong. Use a book about bullying, like Stanley the Snack Snatcher, to guide your conversation, allowing children to openly share their experiences.

Bullying stops when we begin to value one another’s differences

At the end of the day, I believe it is vital for young children to learn how to value the differences among their peers, maintain a sense of community, and deal with conflict in an empathetic manner.
We all want what is best for our child, and part of this is providing a safe, healthy learning environment filled with mutual respect and trust. By approaching the issue of bullying from an early age, we can cultivate this environment.

Cyber Security In Preschool.

Digital Dilemmas in Preschool and Beyond

Using critical thinking skills to approach cyber security and your preschooler.
With cyber-attacks inundating news reports, cyber security has been on my mind lately – especially when it comes to young children. October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, so it’s the perfect time to assess your preschool child’s safety in an increasingly complex digital world. First, let’s talk about what cyber security is. Often, we think of it in terms of our passwords. Long, complex passwords that differ for each of your logins is standard (and recommended. But cyber security as a whole is more in-depth. It’s the protection of an entire ecosystem of digital data on a personal, communal, and national level. For you personally, this can mean protecting everything from your bank account to your child’s school records. Even if your children are young – say in preschool or daycare – there are steps you can take to make sure they are not being exposed to vulnerabilities.
Know where data is being stored. Academic institutions keep a record of their students. Some of these records are still following old-school paper techniques, or are housed on internal databases, but not all. In fact, it’s often more beneficial to keep student records somewhere easily accessible throughout the institution, which often means relying on an internet connection. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a good idea to know how the data is being stored. Once you know what programs are being used, you can verify that the company creating the program has systems in place to keep the data safe.
Know where your child is spending their digital time.
Thanks to tablets and an open marketplace for app development, your child has the potential to be exposed to a mountain of digital educational resources. In many ways, this is a wonderful asset to your child’s academic growth. There are countless games designed for the sole purpose of creating a fun, educational learning environment that can be accessed anywhere. Of course, there is a flip side of the coin. Many apps, when downloaded, require access to personal information. Often within an app, users are exposed to advertisements. Taking the time to check exactly what permissions are being sought out and what is available within the app, will help keep your iPad and your child safe. Talk to your child about cyber security. It may seem like a big topic, but safety in a digital world is a reality of today’s youngest generations. Because of this, it’s crucial to teach them how to approach the Internet in a smart, critical way from an early age. This means keeping an open dialogue. Over the years, your child will be exposed to any number of digital dilemmas, whether they are exposed to cyber bullying, are contacted by someone who seems suspicious, or simply are not sure how to access information in a safe way.
Each of these issues can be tackled through critical thinking skills and an open dialogue. The Internet isn’t something to be feared, but it is something to approach with a healthy dose of caution.

The Critical Thinking Child Difference

The Critical Thinking Child Difference

How Our Test Prep is Actually “Think” Prep

 

A few years ago a dad came to me seeking test prep services for his four-year-old daughter.  As an educator, this isn’t unusual, but this specific instance was memorable to me for three reasons:

  1. His guilt and regret about neglecting to test his first child (a bright and intellectually curious six-year-old) for the gifted kindergarten program. His son was an early reader and academically ahead of his preschool peers, but they didn’t seek testing.
  2. The sacrifices his family made based on their financial priorities. They focused on three key areas: education, health, and retirement.  This meant he invested big bucks in his children’s education.
  3. His anxiety and stress around figuring out which resources to buy and how to best help his bright, shy 4-year-old daughter so she could excel academically on the day of the gifted test.

 

Like this parent, you invest in education because you expect the best for your child. You want them to learn and grow in the most beneficial way possible. I know, as I experienced the same with my children. I wanted them to see learning as a positive experience, one they looked forward to.

Unfortunately, many academic organizations focus too much time and energy on old-school techniques, like rote memorization, drilling, and lower-level thinking skills.

Test prep is particularly guilty of this.  Young kids learn to cram and memorize skills which are often forgotten and rarely applied after the test.

In a perfect world, you want your child to learn skills that are sustainable. When tested, you want them to feel calm and ready to put their best foot forward, not anxious and overwhelmed. This is why I built The Critical Thinking Boot Camp for Kids: to be fun and engaging and, above all, useful beyond the test.  It’s about think prep rather than test prep.

Here are a few ways in which The Critical Thinking Child Boot Camp for Kids stands apart.

We build confidence

With activities that take into consideration all possible learning styles, our program is geared to your child’s exact needs. This helps to break down barriers and make learning accessible to all of the students. Even better, children are able to practice learning in their dominant and their non-dominant learning styles, which helps to boost their confidence.

We also help to create an atmosphere of healthy competition. Instead of comparing students to one another, we focus on individual progress. We teach our students to identify their own academic strengths and opportunities for improvement. We also teach them to celebrate their mistakes, using positive praise to help them learn and grow. This fosters a growth mindset and helps them understand that learning is a lifelong process and it is okay to make mistakes.

Additionally, we take time to model and demonstrate all of our lessons. These examples, combined with critical thinking questions, help students become familiar with a variety of concepts, even when they are presented in new ways. We start practicing at a young age to help students develop these skills early.

We take learning beyond the classroom

 

When I first created The Critical Thinking Child Boot Camp for Kids I wanted to create an atmosphere where parents and children were companions in learning. We bring parents into the equation, providing the tools and resources necessary to make learning an everyday experience. This includes a Parent Mastermind Group and various online learning opportunities. We show children how to think critically about their world, and we help parents promote this way of thinking at home.

In doing this, we help ensure that young learners continue to practice their critical thinking skills no matter where they are. Easy-to-implement tools make it simple for parents to guide their child. As a result, the young learner is able to create a lifelong habit of approaching their world with curiosity and a joy of learning.

We also help students become comfortable with using technology as a learning tool. Through technology, we enhance the learning experience, rather than interrupting it. This allows students to continue learning even outside of the classroom. All of our learning tools are designed and developed by award-winning educators and local teaching artists, so you know your child is getting a great experience.

We are founded on fun

Because true critical thinking is rooted in inquiry and discovery, I aim to help young learners understand their world through play. The activities presented during test prep help students think about their world in a way that makes sense to them. We encourage children to have fun and to ask questions, stretching their creative muscles in the process.

This means incorporating a wide range of activities throughout sessions, including visual art, science, music, arithmetic, and even origami. Each of these activities is designed to help students understand abstract topics in a fun, accessible way.

We don’t teach to the test, we teach to the student

Many test prep organizations simply drill students on possible test topics. Not only is this approach ineffective and boring, it limits learning.

Instead of focusing mainly on memorization and worksheets, we focus on the thinking process itself. Our goal is to help nurture children’s natural curiosity, rather than frustrating them. With this in mind, we focus on activities that advance a child’s true and natural abilities.

As a result, students gain confidence in verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, reading, math reasoning, listening skills, and memory. They also learn which test prep strategies work best for them.

At The Critical Thinking Child, we instill a lifelong passion for learning

The Critical Thinking Child LLC has helped countless students successfully prepare for classical and gifted admissions tests. More importantly, we have shown students that learning is a process of discovery. We bring the joy back to learning and promote a lifelong love of curiosity.

We believe that by helping children think critically about the world, we are helping create adults who will be able to change it for the better. As a result, our students have greater problem-solving skills, verbal and non-verbal skills, and transferable skills across multiple subjects. Our parents feel confident in their child’s academic path, and our students are excited to participate in a fun learning environment.

 

How Kids Can Reach Their Full Potential Using Critical Thinking

“Are you smarter than a 5th grader?” This program is very popular because some believe that modern educational systems have been dumbed-down to create robotic, mindless automatons. Kids can only reach their full potential using critical thinking.

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Easy Strategies for Parents to Engage their Child During a Teacher’s Strike

There is no reason that the education of your child has to stop just because there is a teacher’s strike. Enrichment can occur from homeschooling tutoring – all that you need is the material from a teaching professional to guide you. This guide will be available in May 2016 as a parent handbook on the educational activities parents can perform with their own children at any point in time.

Continue reading “Easy Strategies for Parents to Engage their Child During a Teacher’s Strike”