The brain is rapidly developing in the teenage years.
We all want our kids to enjoy learning and to make the most of their education. We place value in ensuring they work hard, study for their tests do their homework to the best of their abilities and appreciate the educational opportunities they’ve been giving. A good education truly is a gift.
This sense of curiosity might be even more important than parents realize. Research has shown that curiosity impacts performance as much as hard work. When you’re curious about a subject and study up on it, you tend to retain that information for longer periods. It’s also associated with positive behaviours such as tolerance for uncertainty, humour and out-of-the-box thinking.
These are all skills associated with happiness, resilience, creativity and intellectual growth.
So how do we foster that sense of lifelong learning in kids? How do we ensure they grow up with a sense of curiosity that will motivate them to want to learn and explore throughout their entire lives? Here are a few tips:
Encourage your children to ask questions. If your child asks a question, don’t brush them off with a simple answer such as “I don’t know.” Don’t simply say “good question.” Go the extra step further and help them find the answer to the question they have asked.
Maybe it’s a matter of going to the library and finding a book that explains the topic. Maybe you can go online together and read the literature. Take them to a museum or help them interview someone who has the answer.
There are so many methods of learning and ways to find answers. What is your child’s preferred method? Maybe they are more hands-on. Maybe they enjoy learning by opening a book. Let them know how much you value their curiosity and reward them by helping them discover the answer. They will enjoy the journey and not hesitate to approach you the next time they are curious.
Talk to your child’s teacher. When you communicate with your son or daughter’s teacher either casually or during more formal parent-teacher interviews, ask if they have noticed whether there is anything in particular your child is curious about. What is their favourite subject? What style of learner are they? Do they seem particularly curious about anything? If not, perhaps they have suggestions for how you can stimulate a sense of wonder. Your teacher will know things about your child that you might not have noticed and their experience in the education field will give them valuable insight into your particular child.
Let your child’s teacher know how committed you are to being involved and in fostering an appreciation for lifelong learning in your child. You are a team dedicated to furthering your child’s education and you share the same goals. Don’t hesitate to speak openly to your child’s teachers about this topic.
Encourage your teen to do their homework well. If you step in and help your child right away, they might not have the opportunity to assess whether they understand the work. By helping, you deny giving them a chance to see how resourceful they are. You will also give them the chance to realize what questions their homework will spark. They might even discover they don’t understand the homework at all. You’ll want to make yourself available, of course, to answer questions or suggest ways in which they might find the answers.
If you’re stuck on how to facilitate the process, here are a few suggestions:
Ensure learning happens outside the classroom, too. As much as we prioritize in-class learning, there is so much to be discovered outside of the class as well. The best way to foster additional opportunities is to encourage your child to participate in extra-curricular activities. Perhaps they like sports, music or want to learn a language. Sign them up for a class at the local community centre or in the neighbourhood. If they discover they aren’t interested in that particular activity, try another. Don’t give up. Extra-curricular activities are a great way to make friends, expand their skills, get exercise and figure out what they are interested in and what they aren’t.
Stimulating that sense of curiosity is very important and there are so many ways in which you can help build this sense of wonder in your child. Once you light that spark, there will be no stopping your child in their quest for lifelong learning.
Echo Editor December 6th, 2018
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.
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.
When choosing a school we need to keep in mind a few things.
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.
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.
Echo Editor October 29th, 2018
Tags: academic integrity, active kids, blended learning, cpclearns, crestwood, crestwood preparatory college, crestwoodprep, high school, internet of things, kids, private school in toronto, students, Toronto, trends
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In recent years, there has been a groundswell of activism and campaigning to reduce the stigma of depression and mental health anomalies. A number of celebrities and public figures have come forward to tell their stories of struggling with depression.
Though we accept what we hear about adults dealing with depression, it’s difficult to recognize the early warning signs of depression in children. When a child or teen is withdrawn, sullen or frequently sad, adults often assume “It’s just a phase he’s going through.”, or “She’s just hormonal!”
Maybe your child is growing through a difficult time, or their emotions are being affected by hormones. Maybe there is a long term mental health condition which you should recognize, and work with your doctor to determine the best course of treatment.
Here is some guidance we’ve curated from professionals on how to determine:
Australian author Matthew Johnstone published a compelling book living with depression called “I Had a Black Dog”. It has become a global phenomenon, and inspired an awareness campaign from the World Health Organization. It identifies depression as a mood disorder, but one which can be managed by therapy, medication or a physical wellness programs.
The “Black Dog Book” identifies many of the symptoms of living with depression like:
If you find your child is expressing concerns about these symptoms, or if you observe them exhibiting these signs, try and start a dialog with them. Try not to be too confrontational about it, as your child may retract and hide their feelings. Concealing depression symptoms is another sign of clinical depression. Discuss your concerns with your child or teen supportively, not accusingly.
If your child or teen is exhibiting some of these symptoms suddenly, or for a short term basis, they may just have a case of “the sads”. They may just need:
There may be something happening at school, with relationships with friends or romantic interests that are causing “angst” or sadness. Try to help your child through what they are dealing with. If the symptoms persist, consider speaking with your family doctor about forms of treatment. There are also support resources at the school, either to “compare notes” on symptoms you are seeing, to get referrals to community programs, or talk to counsellors about options.
If you are noticing some of these warning signs of child depression, don’t despair. If you have been experiencing signs of sadness or stress yourself, your child or teen may be picking up on your emotional cues. Recognizing whether your son or daughter is suffering from a mood disorder, or just a temporary bout of the blues is important.
If your physician diagnoses your child as being mildly or deeply depressed, there are a number of pharmaceutical options which your doctor may recommend to treat their condition. Early detection often helps to diminish depression, and alternative approaches to medicine are often effective.
Other therapeutic options include:
Regardless of the long term plan, starting with your family doctor is often the best first step. Other community resources like the CMHA, YMCA or peer groups might be a good next step. Your child’s future can be made drastically better if you open up a dialogue with them, help them feel safe, and work towards a mentally healthy future.
Echo Editor May 3rd, 2018
It is problematic as a parent to know whether you’re making the right decisions for your teens. One of the things that begins to plague the minds of parents at this time of year is whether or not their teenager should have a summer job.
There are so many ways to spend a summer. After a tough academic year, your teen might want to chill out and spend time with their friends. They might want to travel, play sports or take a course. Working is a great option as well. But which will be the most beneficial experience for your child and which will universities value?
According to education experts and parenting gurus, holding a job is a great idea and teaches teenagers a variety of valuable lessons—lessons that will weigh heavily in your teen’s favour when it comes time to apply for university.
Here are a few reasons why getting a summer job is a great idea:
Interview skills: There’s no better way to prepare your teen for the road ahead than to have them experience the job application process. Not only will they have to create a winning resume, they will also gain experience looking for work, networking, applying for jobs and interviewing for positions. These skills will come in handy whether they actually get the job for which they’ve applied or they don’t. At some point they will apply for a scholarship or job and they will be that much further prepared than their peers who never experienced the process. It can definitely be nerve wracking and stressful, but the more experience they have the more natural it will become as they get older.
Rejection: Let’s face it: like all of us, our kids are bound to experience rejection at some point or another. They might apply for their first job and get it, or they might be turned down. This in itself is a great experience in building resilience and handling upsetting life lessons. It’s a skill that needs to be learned and managed. The better your teen gets at handling rejection, the easier it will be for them to bounce back and move onto other experiences and opportunities. They might even learn about themselves in the process. Maybe they are stronger, more positive or more independent than they imagined themselves to be. Maybe they will come to appreciate why they didn’t get the job—what experience they are lacking or why an interview went badly—and use it get the next job. Even rejection has its benefits.
Responsibility: When your child does get that first job and enters the workforce for the summer, there are myriad lessons they will learn. The first of which is perhaps responsibility. They will need to learn to arrive on time, to handle difficult situations or people and they will be depended upon to do their job properly. Having a job is also a great way to learn about teamwork, commitment and time management. These are all key life skills that will be required to succeed not only in their first job, but in every other job that follows.
Finances: Earning your first paycheque is a fantastic way to start learning about the value of a dollar. Your teen will quickly come to understand how hard they had to work to earn their first cheque. They might think twice before wasting money in future or be inspired to learn about how to save. Some quick calculations will help them discover how much they might need to work before they can earn the new pair of shoes they’ve been coveting. Perhaps they want to start saving for college or university or to travel after high school. This is a perfect teaching opportunity for parents. Sit down with your child and give them a lesson in managing their money. How much should they save? How much can they spend? Make sure they open a bank account and get a debit card. Teach them financial responsibility. Let them pay for certain things so they can feel proud of what they were able to buy.
Confidence: There’s nothing like being recognized for a job well done to boost a teen’s self esteem. Knowing they worked hard, did a good job and were recognized can make a teenager feel proud and accomplished. They will begin to learn about what they are good at and what skills need to be improved. By doing certain jobs, they will learn about themselves—their likes and dislikes. They will over time grow into themselves, mature and understand who they are and what they want in life.
In short, aside from having less time to lounge around on the couch during the summer, there is very little downside to encouraging your teenager to look for a job this summer. Though working might have its challenges, your teen will definitely have earned a sense of accomplishment by the time school starts again in September.
Crestwood Echo April 20th, 2018