Sunday, April 7, 2013

Raising Funny Kids 22: Exploring Our World

The most effective learning strategies require creating a fun and individualized learning environment. This can be achieved by making connections between historical events and what's trending now in terms of global news stories. While not all news stories can be covered and commented upon, a general sampling can provide a general framework upon which cognitive thinking skills can be applied. 

In this respect, daily lessons allow kids to work at their own pace toward appropriately challenging goals. Basing a competency-curriculum off of global current events allows kids to be aware of real-world events while building applications to effectively manage the ones that apply to them. In this way, kids feel personally connected to the world, not separate and independent. This separateness carries over into adulthood whereby many people claim that they are "not interested in politics" or "in the news" because it is "depressing." Often times, this perspective develops in childhood because children are not taught how these events affect and shape their lives. 

Kids should receive ongoing, individual feedback and be acknowledged for their improvement and progress - not just the final product.  At the end of the day, how do you know whether or not you succeeded in enriching your kids? Look at their faces. Are they interested, actively engaged, asking questions, and offering feedback? Are they excited about projects and eager to share their ideas? 

When you engage kids through their learning strengths and when activities help them make personal connections to past experiences that they can draw upon to reach and fulfill their highest potential, you know you're opening up their minds to the experience of learning. Don't let school get in the way of learning. If a kids enjoyed school, that is mostly likely because they learned something new. 

Each time a kid feels special and valuable, you've made a difference. When you allow them to express themselves, and appreciate them as individuals, you've made a difference. If you respond to kids authentically and they recognize your sincere interest, you've made a difference. 

A supportive classroom community, no matter what the size, is respectful and encouraging. The fear of embarrassment in trying new things and making mistakes is replaced with the joy and wonderment in discovery. Kids try harder when they learn self-respect and are in turn, respected - not just for their knowledge, but for themselves. 

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