Free Online Video Training

In February 2017, I will be releasing a 3-part video training focusing on how parents can build critical thinking skills in children preschool through second grade.

The training will start with explaining the “what” and “why” of critical thinking including it’s potential for academic motivation in preschoolers, struggling students and gifted learners.

Then we’ll review assumptions that prevent parents from fostering (and children from gaining) “good thinking” experiences, and the impacts of these pitfalls on a child’s ability to build proficient reading skills and math number sense.

The last video will give you some quick & easy tips to implement into your already (time-strapped) busy schedule. If you are interested in this training, just click here to you’ll be signed up to be notified when the videos are ready.

 

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.

What Does Prep Have To Do With Being Gifted?

What does prep have to do with being gifted?

I spend a lot of time talking about the value of “thinking prep” and how to effectively prepare your children to be thoughtful, curious individuals. The Critical Thinking Child was founded on this idea, and the prep we provide does so much more than prepare your child for a test–it cultivates a lifelong love of learning.

But what does prep have to do with being gifted?

It’s a good question, and one I hear frequently. My answer?

You can’t wish, teach or prep a child to be gifted but you can improve their thinking skills

As parents, we can give the gift of education but you can’t wish, teach, or prep a child to be gifted.

A child’s gifts take on many forms, and even the term “gifted” is often nuanced.  We prefer terms like high-performing, high-achieving or high-potential students.

Does this mean prep is useless? Of course not. Children acquire and build their gifts and talents through exposure to the world around them.  Our program focuses on nurturing these natural gifts within your child. We stimulate and stretch their natural talents and supports their academic struggles. Our prep is an opportunity to teach your child how to think critically, regardless of labels.

Through critical thinking, children have the potential to be our greatest assets

The skills we teach at The Critical Thinking Child support talented children in reaching their full potential. Our students develop higher-level thinking skills and accelerate their academic potential. Under our care, children learn to concentrate, listen, and focus. All of our prep serves this purpose.

In addition, we want to empower you, as a parent, to foster your child’s gifts at home. Highly intelligent, unique children may require more attention, and our tips and strategies will help you promote and nurture them in their daily life. Together, we will be able to help children develop their critical thinking skills and give them a chance to explore their interests and discover their passions.

By doing so, we awaken within our children their potential to be our greatest thinkers, scientists, teachers, artists, and leaders.

Gifting education to your future generation

Something magical happens through our program. As we connect with the child, they begin to explore and ask questions. They hone in on their talents and passions and develop a deeper understanding of their world. Our parents are able to witness and experience the joy of their gift of education.

Let’s be honest, enrolling in our program will not make your child gifted.

What it will accomplish is giving you, as a parent, the chance to give the gift of education.

I stand by our motto—“Gifting Education to Your Future Generation”—and together, we will give your child the chance to reach their academic potential and prep for a lifetime love of learning, inquiry, and exploration.

Avoid A Back To School Breakdown

Avoid a Back-to-School Breakdown

How to successfully transition from summertime to school-time.

For many of you, summer is drawing to a close. You’re bracing yourself for the end of summer, while children eek out their last few days home. Some of you may already have returned to the busy routine of sack lunches and school buses.

Regardless, this time of year can be stressful. There seems to be more to do than there is time in the day, and it can be hard to part with your child after having them home all summer. Young learners pick up on this, and they often approach the beginning of the school year with mixed emotions. If your child is back in the classroom, you may have already noticed some anxiety on their part.

Whether you’re kissing your child goodbye at the bus stop or still hunting down the perfect lunch box, I’ve been there. Every year I face the same stressors, and I implement new tactics to make it easier. Today I want to share with you my three top tips to making a successful transition from summertime to school-time (for everyone involved).

Ease back into a routine

There’s a good chance your summer routine is drastically different from your school-year routine, and the same goes for young children. Summertime tends to be less structured and the activities tend to be less academic in nature. Even if a child spends ample time engaged in critical thinking activities, there’s a good chance they were formatted differently from those during the school year.

Because of this, it’s important to slowly ease back into the school-year routine. Take time to practice waking up and going to bed earlier, and begin organizing your day around a more structured schedule. Your mind and body will both thank you.

This is also a good time to create systems of organization around the school year. Reflect on the previous year and think about how you could better arrange your day. Decide on a few small modifications that will help you stay on top of all your responsibilities.

Create an atmosphere of excitement

So often the idea of returning to school is met with groans of unhappiness instead of anticipation. To help young learners reclaim their excitement, emphasize the amount of fun they will have. As a parent, take time to integrate learning games into the day, so students are already accustomed to the practice.

If you’re a teacher, integrating ample play time that allows for critical thinking practice will help students look forward to their time in your classroom. Not only that, but students who play more are given a chance to discover more. They internalize concepts through the act of playing, and are able to naturally investigate a wide variety of concepts.

Give students a say

It can be easy for children to feel as if they have no control over their life, especially in the beginning of the school year. They’re being told where to go, what to learn, and how to spend their time. Often they are limited in the amount of discovery time they have, and as a result, it becomes difficult for them to take ownership of their learning.

To resolve this, make a habit of asking young learners open-ended questions. Give them opportunities to make small decisions, such as which backpack to buy or what game to play, in a structured environment. Parents and teachers both can practice this, and will find that engaging students in conversation rather than simply issuing demands actually makes them more efficient learners.

Don’t forget to have fun! Your attitude is contagious.

If you’re miserable, odds are your students or children will pick up on it. So as you settle into a new school year, keep your own mood in mind. By settling slowly into a routine, making school something to anticipate excitedly, and giving students a say in what happens you’re setting the stage for an exciting school year.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

Parents of Preschoolers Mastermind

Make an early investment in your child’s academic future!

Join us for a Mini Parent Mastermind Event designed to help the most time-pressed, decision fatigue, parents promote their child’s school success and become more effective in teaching fun “thinking skills” during time already spend together at home.

This is an adult-only event open to parents and guardians of preschool and kindergarten children ages 3 to 5 years old.

We have simply solutions for busy parents!!! Continue reading “Parents of Preschoolers Mastermind”

Tips in Teaching How to Nurture Critical Thinking Skills at Home

 Critical thinking is now a catchphrase in learning. It applies even to preschoolers. Before, education was limited to conveying information. However, there has been a move recently toward mentoring critical thinking. This is the ability that promotes thinking further than learning and remembering. Critical thinking is more of reason and analysis. In other words, it is more of learning how to think.

Continue reading “Tips in Teaching How to Nurture Critical Thinking Skills at Home”