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Raising Smart Kids in a Digital World

Register here to access free cyber safety parent tips

We’re excited to have our critical thinking boot camp kids featured on ABC 7 Chicago News.  As parents, we know smart kids will find a way around parental blocks on your phone or iPad.  The Critical Thinking Child LLC is committed to empowering parents with the tools and resources they need to help kids build healthy cyber safety habits.  Want peace of mind while your child learns and plays online?

The benefits of abstract puzzles

Our abstract puzzles are a great way to help encourage students to focus and think. When abstract puzzles are introduced into a child’s learning environment it requires both listening skills and a long attention span.

Register here to learn more about our resources and tools.   

Is Your Child Smartphone Savvy?

How to help your child appreciate and respect smartphones

Smartphones are everywhere. They appear in classrooms, at home, and at the grocery store. We rely on them for everyday activities, like checking our bank account, looking up recipes, and connecting with old friends on Facebook.
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It’s no wonder our children are interested in having their very own smartphone, and giving them access to one is a great way to encourage learning. Many smartphone games are geared for children and are educational, and even simple apps (such as the calculator) can be used to promote critical thinking in day-to-day situations.

But how do you give your child access to this technology in a safe, secure way? You can’t police them all the time – they need to learn to appreciate and respect smartphones on their own. Continue reading “Is Your Child Smartphone Savvy?”

Math: How Teachers are Teaching

Math instruction has transformed over the years, moving away from rote memorization and formula-based problem solving and to (the much more effective) critical thinking and number sense. This might be different from the way you were taught, but you can still support your child at home. A few basic numeracy skills will go a long way, so you can help your child with greater confidence. These skills will help form a strong math foundation, so your child can be successful in math at school. Continue reading “Math: How Teachers are Teaching”

Tips to Improve Your Child’s School Success

Setting your child up for success doesn’t have to be difficult. A few simple action items can go a long way. Being present is key, whether it’s reviewing your child’s homework and schedule, or making sure you’re up-to-date on emails from the teacher (and sending them questions you have!). If there’s a parent portal available, make sure you use it. Helping your child get organized at the beginning of the year, and checking in with their system periodically, can also be a big help. Make it a fun project, finding notebooks, planners, and calendars your child is drawn to.

Finally, nurture your child’s education by promoting a growth mindset. Remind them that mistakes are okay, and a part of the learning process. Help them take care of themselves emotionally and physically, providing appropriate praise and making sure they (and you!) get plenty of rest.

 

FREE Video Training for Parents – Help your child think and focus!

Is your child frustrated with common core math or lacks attention and focus in school? Critical thinking skills can help. On February 9th the first parent training video will be released but you must be registered to receive the notifications. I’ll explain 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 focus. build their attention span to develop strong 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 do you respond when your child asks: “Am I Stupid?”

Many parents and teachers dread their child asking this question, and it can be an intimidating one to answer. If disregarded, it can allow the child to internalize a negative self-belief. If approached with care and consideration, it can become a powerful, teachable moment and lead to valuable dialogue. As a result, the child can learn how to not only think of themselves in a more positive light, but also how to think critically about how they learn. Continue reading “How do you respond when your child asks: “Am I Stupid?””

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.

 

Offscreen vs. Onscreen Learning

 

HOW TO BALANCE TECHNOLOGY & PLAY

Create a structure around both off and onscreen learning

The key factor isn’t the means through which your child is learning: it’s the structure around it. For example, giving your child free reign to do whatever he or she pleases on an iPad may be somewhat less effective than scheduling a block of time for them to engage in highly-acclaimed learning apps.

This holds true for offscreen play as well. You don’t need to dictate every activity your child engages in, but it’s good to be cognizant of how they spend the blocks of time where no screen is involved.

Remain a part of the process

Whether you’re helping your child build something from blocks or asking questions about the learning app they’re playing with, your participation matters.

While it can be tempting to let your child “figure it out on their own”, it’s important to remain invested in the process. Ask questions, show your interest, and let your child know that you want to be involved, regardless of what the activity may be. Continue reading “Offscreen vs. Onscreen Learning”

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.