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.

Smart Homework Tips.

Is your child failing their homework?

Three smart ways to help your child succeed on their homework.

Few students return from school at the end of the day full of excitement and eagerness about their homework. In my experience, even the most gifted students (sometimes especially gifted students) approach their homework assignments with a certain amount of anxiety, irritation, or distaste. After all, they just spent the whole day at school, why should they need to work more?

Motivating and helping your child succeed can be a daunting task, and no small number of fights have begun at the homework table. Rather than preparing for battle, I recommend taking the stress away from homework. As a parent, you fill the role of monitor and motivator. To do this successfully means implementing a few simple practices.

Blur the lines between learning and playing

So often young learners are restricted from “play time” until they successfully complete their homework. Essentially, they are told they are not allowed to have fun until they finish learning. It’s no wonder so many students are resistant!

Instead of holding fun over your child’s head as a motivator, reinforce the idea that learning is fun. Not only that, but it’s a part of everyday experiences. While homework may be a more formal version of learning, each game they play, every curiosity they satisfy, also teaches them.

Remind your child of this by integrating fun, learning activities into their routine and allowing homework to be a part of that.

Ask open-ended questions

It can be tempting to take on your child’s homework as your own burden, but it’s important to resist the urge. Instead of hovering over them, act as a facilitator. If they begin to struggle, ask open-ended questions that prompt them to think for themselves, instead of fishing for answers.

Questions such as, “How can you think about this in a different way?” or “What part of this problem is hard for you?” will teach your child to verbalize their difficulties while also approaching them from new angles. As an added bonus, when you monitor your child in this way you become less of a disciplinarian and more of a motivator. They can look to you for advice, but ultimately they are responsible for their own learning.

Incorporate breaks

Asking your child to do all of their homework at once may be hurting more than helping, especially if they’re bogged down by a huge amount. Instead, block off specific times for completing homework and encourage your child to take breaks frequently. Most young children have short attention spans, and when they become frustrated their ability to problem solve is greatly reduced.

Give your child 15 – 30 minutes to work on their homework in earnest, then break it up with an activity that requires some amount of movement or shift in thinking. Once they’ve had 10 – 20 minutes away from their assignment, encourage them to return to it. This will allow them to approach it with a fresh mind.

As your child gets older they may be able to work uninterrupted for longer periods of time. Be mindful of them as they work, and if they seem to be overly stressed or anxious, remind them to step back.

Are you creating a positive atmosphere around homework?

When you implement these tricks you allow your child to approach their homework with a more positive mindset. It becomes less of a battleground and more of a playground. While your child may never view homework as their favorite activity, they will slowly come to think of it as a part of their day-to-day routine.