Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Reflection from the Classroom: A simple strategy for motivating students to write

Today when I was working with 8 to 9 years olds, I realized that a simple variation of your lesson plan could go a long way in keeping the interest and motivation high of your children/students.
I was planning on giving a topic for an essay to ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) students. These students have not mastered English as a language and often struggle and shut themselves up from writing assignments. I started out by saying let’s come up with a topic that you want to write about. There were several suggestions. Then I realized that everyone had her/his own interest and choosing one topic was not going to make everyone happy. So I let them all choose their own topic. It was such a delight to see them entirely engaged and motivated- each student was doing her/his best!

I am not saying that children should be allowed to pick their own topic every time but I think we can balance it out. It will go a long way in maintaining their interest in writing. When the children are engaged they pick up skills much faster.

Friday, 25 July 2014

S/he Doesn't Pay Attention!

You may have heard from your child’s teachers- ‘she doesn’t pay attention’, ‘she can’t finish her work’ or you may have heard your child say- ‘I am bored in class’. Attention is something that should naturally come about as the child grows older. However, many a time due to various reasons a child develops ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). This causes academic failure and social incompetence in classroom setting. Nowadays we come across many cases of children that have developed or are developing this disorder, one of the reasons being overuse of electronic gadgets.

The good news is that you can do several things from your end to ward off the possibility of AD/HD. Here are a few simple strategies to help keep your child’s attention levels appropriate:

1.     Curb the use of electronics like tablets (I-pad etc.), smartphones and games (X-Box etc.)
2.     Reduce television time especially cartoons
3.     Balance the day out between physical activities and sitting down activities
4.     Play board games like Pictureka, Pictionary, Monopoly, Taboo, Cards, Uno, Memory game and Battleship
5.     Play physical games and sports like Twister, Simon Says, badminton, tennis, soccer and cricket
6.     Give them activity books which have spot the differences, mazes, word searches, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, match the pictures, odd one out, hidden pictures, etc. You can also print them out from the internet; find them using the above keywords
7.     Give them puzzles- increase the number of pieces as her attention span and ability increase
8.     Read to/with them- it is good for everything!
9.     Make time for art and craft (refer to my post on creativity kit)
10.  All the activities that enhance fine motor skills also enhance attention as the child needs to focus when he manipulates objects (refer to my post on poor handwriting)
11.  Yoga and meditation

12.  Provide emotional support and empathize with your child- it will work wonders

If you have any more ideas please post on this page. When you share, you care! 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Poor Handwriting?

If you see your child struggling with handwriting- her handwriting is sloppy, illegible and the letter formation is not up to the mark, please don’t give her handwriting books to practice writing. Instead give her activities to enhance her fine motor skills. If you see no improvement in handwriting in a month or so, you could go to an occupational therapist to get her evaluated and started on therapy. Please do not ignore this problem, as it doesn’t get resolved on its own. Also, it makes academic success more difficult to achieve as your child goes up grade levels and writing becomes more and more of a task.

Below is the list of a few activities that support fine motor development:
  1. Art activities like drawing, colouring, cutting, pasting, crumpling, twisting, tracing, painting and printing (creativity kit will take care of all these)
  2. Play dough
  3. Beading
  4. Weaving
  5. Construction toys like lego and blocks
  6. Sand play and water play
  7. Dressing up- buttoning and lacing
  8. Crochet and sewing for older children
  9. Cooking and baking- shelling peas, cutting vegetables, peeling, kneading, pouring, rolling, pressing, mixing
  10. Pegging (for e.g. clipping clothes on the line)
  11. Sharpening pencils
  12. Folding clothes

Involve your child in household chores and make her independent in terms of dressing, organizing her clothes and toys, eating etc. Many activities have inbuilt opportunities to enhance fine motor skills. Get creative and for more ideas simply search the internet.