Saturday | November 27, 2021

New Trends in Education

Decades ago, when we thought of new trends in education, we would have perhaps moved between an inductive method to deductive, from instructional teaching to interactive learning.

Today, teaching has taken an e-turn where students want personalized learning methods and to reduce the dependency on teachers for instructions. Educators primarily play the role of mentors.

The dependence on digital technology by the youth of today can seem overwhelming to us. But we have to accept that these technologies are pushing the boundaries of learning and the way education is being delivered around the world.

For example, a recent survey by Research and Markets, “Artificial Intelligence Market in the US Education Sector 2017-2021”, predicts the use of AI in K12 and higher ed could grow 47.5 percent by 2021. Moreover, content is also available in varied formats, catering to diverse learning skills and dispositions.

 

Active participation

We cannot expect students to be passive recipients of lessons in a classroom. It is healthy to encourage them to be an active participant in framing the curriculum, choosing the learning resources and the method of learning that aids their understanding.

Each method of learning has a corollary cognitive impact. For example, a Wikipedia entry might generate more interest in a topic more than a traditional textbook or encyclopedia. Some children retain information through listening, others find visual-aid like videos, paintings or diagrams more useful. As parents, we need to help our kids understand what works best for them but most importantly, helps them learn.

While a lesson using Augmented or Virtual Reality might seem a wholesome experience and most importantly convenient, it might restrict imagination; a vital component in critical thought. We need to play the parent in such cases.

While being well-grounded in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and technical fields is critical for young people who will compete for the jobs of the future, a well-rounded knowledge of the arts helps them contextualize their education. So make sure your child learns is exposed to the arts and humanities and not just much mathematics.

 

The School

When choosing a school we need to keep in mind a few things.

  • How keen is a school in ensuring accessible infrastructure for children and their individual needs?
  • How much impact the school has had on the community. In short, is the school producing great citizens of tomorrow?

Gone are the days when soft skills were considered a part of upbringing at home or emotional well-being a personal affair. We are faced with a new political environment where schools have a worldview and they need to lead the way in sensitizing children to accommodate their sensibilities to a cosmopolitan space. There are bound to be stress, anxiety, and schools should be equipped to handle those. Hence a successful school would also invest in students’ social-emotional learning (SEL).

We need to assess a school based on how inclusive it is. Not just in terms of physical infrastructure but also in teaching tools. AR and VR will not be the same for children who have problems with vision.

Incorporating basic tech methods to interact with students over email, text, Google Docs, will facilitate shared learning and flexibility to work from anywhere they are. This cloud comes with a silver lining! We need to make sure the teachers are prepared to give a chance to the children, to understand that some children might be good at grasping texts, others might be good at digital-visual content. We should engage with the teacher regarding the cognitive skills of children.

 

The Career Conundrum

It would be a good idea to train children with the specificities of the industry early in their career while staying prepared for contingencies. For example, it might be great to learn the law as a subject, but a child might not have the temperament or interest to invest themselves in the demands of corporate set up. One might be interested in being a great publisher some day. But they need to be aware of the drudgery of proofreading a manuscript over and over again. In short parents/mentors need to be able to give a clear picture of the actual work that goes into making a career.

In meantime, as children are exposed to different circumstances, goalposts shifts, new interests surface. As parents how prepared are we for that kind of challenge? It would be wise to leave scope for rearrangement of career plans. While a bit of research on programmes and tour of the university would be a good idea, in many schools and districts, the power IoT (Internet of Things) is already being harnessed for keeping track of people, and their activities. Keeping track of performance and harnessing data to assess aptitude towards career could be of great help.

 

Assessment

How do we assess learning? We have to move beyond traditional parameters and employ newer metrics to assess learning. Its common sense that different people have different skills. Hence our standards of assessment should not be unfair in its basic tenets.

For example, Cheryl Morris, an English teacher at San Jose Middle School in the Novato Unified School District in suburban San Francisco, makes short videos of herself to discuss assigned texts. While a few students choose to watch Morris on video – either at home or in class – others prefer to read the texts themselves. Interestingly, by offering the flexibility to choose their preferred method of learning, Morris has been able to bring her students’ failure rate from 10-15% down to zero!

Thanks to these emerging trends in education, teachers are increasingly banking on online coursework and micro-credentials themselves to stay on top of rapidly evolving fields. According to a recent report by Blackboard, nearly forty percent of schools are now offering online professional development for their teachers, witnessing a two-fold increase in the figure available in 2013.

So our knowledge of new trends in education translates into actively participating in the process of schooling of our child. In the business of education, we are all stakeholders. The idea is to ensure holistic educational experience, assess challenges in reading, writing, comprehension or mathematics and always be on the lookout for fun-filled learning. Offering a slew of educational and interactive apps and games, companies like Kahoot! and Socrative have already made assessments more fun, affordable and accessible.

Big data is pushing boundaries in the business of education with more and more use of artificial intelligence to consolidate feedback as an additive factor to the understanding employed by the teacher or mentor.

October 29th, 2018

Posted In: Education, Parenting, Technology

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Crestwood Gives – Providing for Families in Need

December is often a month filled with paradox ­

  • Warm spirits in cold weather
  • Extreme loneliness hidden among celebrations of love and friendship
  • Lean poverty amid bountiful generosity
  • Hunger and sorrow overshadowed by feasting and celebration

Though many of these challenges face Canadian families all year round, they usually come to the forefront of our minds around the holidays. Charitable organizations have but four to six weeks to capture the hearts, minds and wallets of those more fortunate.

Give from More than Your Wallet

It takes more than just donations to organizations like the Salvation Army, Daily Bread Food Bank or the The Hospital for Sick Kids Foundation. It takes activism, volunteering and advocacy from all Canadians. Working on a build for a local Habitat for Humanity, or spending time with seniors at a nursing home can be inspiring all year

Making a pledge to dedicate yourself to a cause at this time of year is good for the heart. Keeping that pledge will be good for your soul.

All too often, we pass a mother and her child in a grocery store, and we don’t know she could barely gather enough money for a few days worth of food.

Maybe you and your children meet someone who has just received long term disability status. They could have been denied insurance coverage, or can no longer work because of pain, or injury. Reaching out with support to people in crisis extends beyond that individual to their loved ones.

These people in need, and many others in dire circumstances, may be calling out for help, though we miss their calls. We are often distracted by stories in the media about celebrities, our own material pursuits, or we’re distracted by other trivial matters which seem important at the time.

How to Make a Difference

There are many examples of people paying their good fortune forward which we hear about every day. Small gestures from children can bring joy to an elderly person’s life. Forgiveness between loved ones or friends. Giving of your time, in circumstances like working with special needs children or adults can go just as far as financial donations, in the right spirit.

Communities like Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Canada not only helps boys and girls by providing role models. They, like all organizations that care for children, provide needed respite for mothers and fathers who need time to work, rest, or learn better ways of parenting. Volunteer as a Big Brother, Big Sister or even for a Junior Achievement class and make a difference in a young person’s life, and that of their family.

It Takes a Village

As the saying goes, it takes more than just a mother and a father to raise a child to adulthood. Providing moral guidance and support, not judgement, is in the best interest of a person growing up.

You won’t likely find many legitimate opportunities to help families on your own. Crestwood has partnered with a number of service groups and charities which cater to the well being, safety and security of the most vulnerable Ontario families among us.

Talk to your child about the benefits of being active in their community, and the role of Crestwood in it.

Encourage your children to learn about power of activism such as:

  • Volunteering for charities which focus on family
  • Donations of food, clothing, toys or other goods which would benefit their less fortunate peers
  • Befriending someone at school who has trouble fitting in, is new to the school or just needs a companion
  • Participating in groups that keep the city safe, clean and free of bullying

The opportunity to learn about helping others when a child is young can translate to a lifetime of service, support of community, and engagement in making Canada a better place to work, live and play in. Together with Crestwood, let’s help families in Toronto, and across Canada.

 

April 9th, 2018

Posted In: Community, Education, Nutrition, Parenting, Technology, Uncategorised

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How to Smooth the Transition From Public to Private School

You have made the decision to put your child in private school.

​Making the transition from one school to another is often challenging, but the transition from public to private school can sometimes add another layer of change.

Often, kids who make the switch will have to figure out a new commute to school, make new friends, adjust to different teachers and establish a new routine. When adjusting to private school, however, other things might change as well. Students might also have a uniform for the first time, the curriculum may be more rigorous, and the academic culture might not be what they are used to.

In time, things will get easier and kids adjust well. If you want to ensure a smooth transition, here are a few tips to make the process easier.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]                             “Tremendous Opportunity for Success”[/pullquote]

The commute. Your child will likely have attended a public school that was in close proximity to your home. You may even have been able to walk to school. But choosing a private school can sometimes mean a new or further commute. Plan your route in advance. Will you be driving your child or will your child be taking public transportation. Make sure you know how long it will take to get to and from school during rush hour so you allot enough time to get there safely on time. If your child will be taking a bus or train, practice the route in advance so your child can confidently make their way to school. Do you have a safety plan in place so your child can reach you if they get lost or if you’re late. Do they have a key to the house in case they now arrive home before you? Do they have enough snacks in their bag in case their commute is longer and they get home later than they used to? This is a great time to think about the commute and put plans in place as you begin a new school.

Uniforms. Your child might be required to wear a uniform for the first time. Have a positive attitude and discuss the benefits with your child if your child is anxious about the change. A uniform means that they don’t have to labour over what to wear in the morning. Students will be judged by their peers by their ideas, not their shoes. It makes getting ready in the morning faster and easier. Take your child for a fitting and make sure their uniforms fit well. Stock up on essentials so your child has enough clothing to last the next several months. Then on the first day, they will look around and realize they fit right in.

 Academic culture. There is a difference between the culture at private and public schools. This can vary between private schools too, but either way, your child is likely to notice a difference. Things like teacher expectations, smaller class sizes, more rigorous curriculum, greater choice of extra-curricular activities and new travel opportunities can feel overwhelming. Go online and read about your new school in advance so you know what to expect. There may be online content describing what your child is likely to experience at their new school. Talk to other students who attend the school. Be prepared with a list of questions. Is your child curious about how students interact with their teachers when the classes are smaller? Are they worried about whether they might be behind in a certain subject? Do you meed to provide a tutor for your child. Speak to the principal about what supports might be in place to help your child if they need it. Chances are, your new school is more than prepared with answers to any questions you may have.

Mentor opportunities. Don’t be afraid to ask for a mentor if one hasn’t been assigned. Often, private schools have a plan in place to help welcome new students into the fold. They might have networking opportunities for parents to get to know one another in advance. Teachers might plan class trips early in the year to help students get to know one another. Some schools might even assign peer-to-peer mentors to new students. This is a great opportunity to be guided by someone who has experience at the school and can teach your child the ins and outs of being a student in this new environment.

​Personal attention: Smaller class sizes with well qualified and accessible teachers provide unique care for each student in private schools. Individual learning plans are the norm. This supportive environment means students receive tremendous opportunities for success in high school. And there is a wide array of resources and guidance available to help students prepare for university or college.

Starting anything new can be stressful, but it is also an exciting opportunity for your child to spread their wings, grow and develop into mature, responsible, successful adults. If you’re prepared in advance, the transition is sure to be a smooth one for your child.

March 29th, 2018

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting, Technology, Uncategorised

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Building Positive Self Esteem in Your Teen

Being a teenager is difficult. Their bodies are changing and growing. Their hormones can make their emotions hard to control. They are meeting new friends, forming new relationships, having new experiences. There are also raised expectations that can feel daunting to meet.

All of this can cause teenagers to have low self-esteem. A teen with low self-esteem will feel unloved, have negative feelings about themselves, avoid trying new things, be easily influenced or blame others for their failures.

We want our teens to have high self-esteem, which is important for their success in life. When a teen has high self-esteem, they view themselves positively, act independently, try new things, are proud of their accomplishments and are better able to handle their emotions.

So how to we ensure our kids grow into teens who have high self-esteem? Luckily there are many ways in which parents can help facilitate a positive self-image in their teens.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]                                       “practice making positive statements about themselves.”[/pullquote]

Praise your child. You don’t want to come off as insincere and compliment everything they do at every turn. This will backfire, particularly for children who have lower self-esteem and don’t accept compliments easily. But you can make a point of letting your child know when they did a good job or that something they did caused you to feel joy or pride in them. We are so often quick to criticize—if only to help our children improve—but well-deserved praised can be very meaningful and heartfelt.

Involve your teen in discussions. Ask your child for their opinion and show them what they think matters. Whether you’re discussing the news or where to go for lunch, seek their thoughts and encourage them to voice their opinions. Teenagers tend to have lots to say and showing them you value what they think will go a long way toward building their self-esteem.

Offer constructive criticism. Rather than putting your child down or making them feel ashamed of their mistake, think about how you can frame it in a more positive light. For instance, rather than telling them how disappointed you were in their test result, let them know that this is a good starting point and that if they spend a little extra time studying, you know the next mark will be better.

​Teach them you have faith in their abilities. Help them set goals and achieve them. Rather than focus on the negative, teach them how to reframe it in a positive way.

Encourage your teen to discover their interests and talents. There’s no better way to feel good about yourself than when you’re doing something you enjoy and at which you excel. Finding that hobby or talent can be tricky, but don’t give up if they don’t find it right away.

​Have them try something new, play with them, say “yes” if they come to you with an idea of their own. This is also a great way to make like-minded friends, expand their skills and even get some exercise if sports is what they enjoy.

Teach your child to practice making positive statements about themselves. It’s so easy to get down on yourself. Too often, we find ourselves saying negative things about ourselves. Teens in particular might tell themselves they are “uncool,” “unlikeable,” “unattractive” or “not smart enough.” This will only harm their self-esteem and can lead to depression and anxiety.

​It’s so important to encourage our teens to practice saying positive things about themselves and to look at situations in a more positive light. For instance, rather than allowing your teen to be upset that their team lost the baseball game, encourage your teen to think about all they fun they had playing. Remind them that they tried their best and that their next game represents a whole new opportunity to have fun, try hard, and maybe even win.

Remind your child that everyone is good at different things. It’s easy for teens to compare themselves to other teens. They tend to notice if others are better at them in certain subjects and feel bad about themselves in comparison.

​Encourage your teen to think about all the things they do well. Let them know it’s great for them to be proud of their friends for their accomplishments. Their friend is sure to compliment them right back when your child excels at something else. This is a great way to spread the goodwill and ensure your child and their social group becomes supportive, rather than competitive.

View mistakes as valuable. We can’t excel at everything and be our best all the time. Sometimes we make mistakes or experience a failure of some sort. If your child is feeling down, encourage them to view mistakes as learning opportunities. What do they think went wrong? How can they improve or act differently to have a more positive outcome next time?

​Growing up is about making mistakes and learning from them. It’s how you progress. Let your teen know you’re proud of them for trying and for learning from their mistake.

Self-esteem is very important and we all want our teens to grow into adults who think positively about themselves and can be happy with their place in the world. With these tips, you’re sure to get your teen off to the best possible start.

March 1st, 2018

Posted In: Community, Education, Nutrition, Parenting, Uncategorised

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Devices and Your Teen’s Developing Brain

We all know that too much screen time is bad for little kids. This includes time spent using iPhones, iPads, video games and computers. Many studies have exposed that too much screen time for little kids can cause permanent damage to their brains. In fact, it can interfere with a child’s ability to focus, concentrate and communicate as they grow older.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]                      “over use of social media can lead to anxiety“[/pullquote]

But do high-tech devices have the same impact on our teenager’s brains, or is more screen time okay for teenagers? It seems to all depend.

​Some screen time is important and even essential for teens. Using a computer is a great way to conduct research or type up school assignments. Phones are an important method of communication and have become increasingly important as a way of interacting with peers. Video games and time spent playing on an iPad are fun and can be a great way to unwind with friends.

But moderation is the key. This is especially important since a person’s brain isn’t fully developed until age 25. This means that too much screen time can definitely negatively affect a teenager’s developing brain. Here’s how:

Too much screen time can lead to dangerous addiction. According to one 2013 study, addiction is linked with depression, impulsiveness and traits associated with autism. It occurs when addicts turn to technology to experience a rush, which is what happens when dopamine floods the brain. The need for this pleasurable sensation fights with the brain’s ability to think rationally and use restraint.

Though you might not think getting a rush from technology is a particular problem, it can actually be deadly. What happens when a teenager is so addicted to their phone that it interferes with their ability to drive safely? They might text and drive or check their phone while behind the wheel, which is dangerous. It can also be illegal depending on where you live.

Technology is not only addictive to the teenaged brain, but over use of social media can lead to anxiety, depression and a loss of interest in socializing face-to-face. Experts have seen an alarming rise in tech-related mental health issues. Parents are being called upon to limit their teen’s time spent on social media, to enforce tech-free family time and eliminate phones from their teenager’s bedrooms at night. It’s all in an effort to ensure their teenager has a healthy balance of socializing, exercise and interaction outside of the virtual world.

Too much screen time can also affect a teen’s ability to sleep. Sleeping and dreaming are essential to developing and maintaining long-term memory. When a teenager is on their phone late into the night, they aren’t getting the sleep they need for their brains to properly function.

In addition to its impact on the brain, over use of technology can have negative physical side effects as well. Too much screen time can lead to eye strain, headaches, tendonitis of the wrist and pain in the neck, shoulders and back.

While technology can have negative impacts on the developing teenager’s brain, we must also recognize it’s an important part of life today. In fact, we can’t live without it. The key is to ensure our teens have balance in their lives. It’s important they socialize with friends, interact with real people, get enough sleep, and not let technology interfere with their physical safety and mental well being.

February 19th, 2018

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting, Technology, Uncategorised

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