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Monthly Archives: December 2016

Toys Role in Learning

Adulthood is not an easy thing to deal with, but it can prove to be even harder to deal with if a person is ill-prepared on the matter. However, when a child is given something to play with, this can help lessen that problem. If they are given learning toys, chances are good that they will be ready for what comes later in life. Household appliances, cars and so on, are all shadowed from actual parts of adult life. Exposing them to such things at a young age makes it feel less overwhelming; in fact, they will be too busy having fun to pay much mind to the fact that they are being taught something.

As any parent could attest, proper early development is very important for the overall mental and physical health of a young person. To help in the success of this, learning toys play a notable part. It does not matter if these educational toys come in the form of a puzzle consisting of colourful shapes, a towel puppet for bath time or something that makes sounds; each of these items force the child to pay attention and use their brain. On top of this, through exposure to said items they can also learn to tap into their imagination. That towel puppet becomes an unrivalled hero, and those puzzle pieces prove to be formidable hurtles for the hero to overcome.

Many children are shy and choose not to socialize with others their age, if not anyone they come across. To help discourage this, educational toys can demand that more than one person use them in order for them to function properly. When this happens, no matter how reluctant, the child will end up interacting with others. Through exposure, they can get used to socializing and become less afraid of the idea. Though it is not a guaranteed result, few would claim that it should not be attempted.

Toys play a role in learning, no matter what they are or when they are used. They prove to be crucial in early development, and can even help a child harness their imagination, something that few could picture their lives without. Without toys, some parts of adult life would be almost foreign or scary, and playing can prepare the child for what will inevitably have to be dealt with. The form of these toys may change as the years and generations pass, but their purpose will remain the same.


Tips to Teach Children in Ages 3 to 6

1. Don’t listen to other adults when they say students can only learn for ten to fifteen minutes! That’s wrong in so many ways, and yet right in one way. You should teach them a full 45-60 minutes without stop, but every 15 minutes you should change the style of your teaching and change what words, math games, or items that you want you child to learn. For example: 15 min teaching English Vocabulary, 15 minutes teaching numbers, 15 minutes teaching letters, 15 minutes teaching writing letters (harder and takes patience at age 3).

2. Be creative in your teaching! This means if you are teaching at home, then sit next to the toy box and begin teaching the child the name of each toy, but remember to repeat it, so that the child hears you say it two times. This is especially good at teaching words like (Bulldozer, Ambulance, Police car, fire engine, race car, motorcycle, animals, Colors (very fun), and much more. There is a world of learning within the toy box and those are things the child sees everyday and relates to a lot, so those words you teach will be very useful and constantly used. Keep this repetition up everyday until the child knows it in a few weeks, then move on to something more challenging, but don’t forget to review a little everyday of the old lessons!

3. Teach With Enthusiasm. Start with using your voice and then work up to cute mannerisms (acting). If you sound excited about teaching it, then the child will be excited to learn. The child is the reflection of the teacher, they reflect back what they see before them, so be cautious of what you say, you could be teaching things that you never intended or wanted too. It was Dr. Norman Peale that said “Enthusiasm sharpens a students mind and improves their problem solving abilities.”

4. Make Sure The Child Follows Along: Teaching reading without teaching sounding words out is possible and I’ve been teaching that way to students for over ten years. Age three to four will have to start leaning words written on flash cards, hand made is fine. Find an easy story book you like and take 50-100 words starting out. You don’t need a picture on the back, it wastes your time and doesn’t make them learn faster, but like earlier you have to hold the card up and repeat the word two times, but will all you repetition, the child must always repeat two times (you say “Them”, student says “Them”. You say “Them” again, students says “Them” again.). Use this repetition for all teaching starting out for first year or more. New words you may teach might be (this, that, those, to, a, an, apple, banana, run, Jack, Jane, grass, house, tree, kite, toys and so on). When teaching vocabulary, find a good picture dictionary for small kids, use it and use the repetition while you teach it, also have the child follow with one finger on the picture at all times. Don’t teach phonics for the first 6-12 months, this way they feel less scared of it and it comes much easier.

5. Make Sure They Speak: If you are teaching vocabulary words on cards, then hold one up (the word “Flowers”) and ask, “Okay, what color are the flowers?” or “Where are the flowers?” and see where the child goes with it, it reinforces the memory of the word flowers in their thoughts, but keep them focused on the task at hand, no wandering.

6. Teach numbers, addition, and subtraction: This is the easiest thing of all to teach. Go to the crayon box and take it to use in this lesson. Sit down on the floor; (all my students learn best there) face the student and take ten crayons out of any color. Then hold them in your hand, placing three on the floor. Say, “Let’s count them! Ready? One…Two…Three!” sound excited and do it slowly! Then see if the student wants to try, if not, you do a different number. Keep doing math this way using crayons, toys, balls, candy (yum-yum) or other items, until it’s too easy and they want more. You can teach them up to 100, really it’s true! But only if you believe in them as a teacher and believe in yourself. Move off to putting five crayons down and counting them, then take two away and count them again. Let the student try. Also, if your child likes drawing, instead of items, use paper and draw the number 4, then make four circles (or apples and so on). Do this for all numbers and let the child use a finger to point at them one by one as the student counts them. Great for teaching addition and subtraction.

7. Make Teaching A Routine: Kids fall into a routine much easier than adults and so you need to use the same time every day to teach them. Here is our class schedule for teaching three to six year olds.

9-10:00 AM: English speaking
10-10:30: Break and play
10:30-11:30: Math
11:30-12:30: Lunch and play
2:00-3:00: Writing/letters for 3 year olds, words for 4, but one page diaries for 6 year olds.
3:30-4:30: Reading/Vocabulary

Making a routine is detrimental to learning! Without this key element, you will not succeed in teaching the student for long. If at home, you must discipline yourself to teaching at certain hour everyday. This allows you and your child to fall into a comfortable routine, without chaos.

What have my students learned you ask? Well by the time they reach the age of 6-7 years old, they have been taking classes in my school for about 3 years. That means they have gained a vocabulary of over 3000+ English words (Remember they are Taiwanese so they start with not knowing any English at all), using a 1000 word picture dictionary series. Also they can add and subtract without using their fingers, but instead look at the board and answer quickly. They also start at six years old at learning writing and vocabulary in Chinese. By six, the students must write a one page diary everyday, with beautiful writing (about 50-70 words). Also they are capable of reading at a second graders level and use phonics to sound out words that they don’t know.

By taking the time to teach you child early on, it will create a positive study habit for the student and make future learning easier by already having experienced learning in a structured environment. We teach and we learn along the way, both student and teacher. It’s a wonderful process of personal growth for all involved!


Things to Look For In A Pre-school

In the not-so-recent past, it was simple and effective to put a child in preschool – all it entailed was consulting the directory and calling the school closest to home and the child was admitted!

The perceived needs of the parents were limited to:

A safe, secure and warm classroom environment for the budding child.

The focus expected being primarily academics.

Logistically, the school needed to be close to the home and convenient to attend.

The changing times have witnessed exponential increases in both the number of preschools and the expectations of the parents per se.


Present day parents are more discerning and aware considering that preschools play such an important role in development – the expectations are high and the perceived needs of the parents are more spatial than ever before. The new age expectations from a preschool are more than a safe and mere academic institution. The expectations from the modern day preschool need to encompass some or more of the following:

An institution which could inculcate spatial personality development.

Preschools with a reputation and a prestigious name

Aligned to the perceived needs of the parents – be it religious or values driven.

Availability in synchronicity with the work schedules of the parent(s).

The Curriculum – well-structured or play-based method depending on the preferences of parents.

Feedback – present day decisions are strongly driven by feedback – even more so for preschools considering it is important to assimilate and analyze the real time experiences of parents and children.


The present day Preschools could well be demarcated:

The traditional half -day school program being in alignment with those not wanting to overburden the child very early in life.

A school with a full-day program – as in a state-sponsored program which would predictably be the option of choice if both parents or single parents work all day.

The religious school environs could well be need of offering a non-secular environment.

Discerning parents then would address this critical decision conscientiously, considering that it entails enormous planning and judicious decision-making which invariably begins with identification of preschools, followed by an in-depth researching of facilities and track record of the institutions – moderated by the feedback of others and finally conclude based on the personal real time visit perceptions before making the decision.


Teach Critical Thinking in Early K-12 Education

Critical thinking is an essential set of reasoning and communication skills required to operate effectively in society. The basic concept of “don’t believe everything you read” comes to mind. It is an essential reasoning skill. The word “skill” is key here because it is more than just common sense or something that children learn as a natural course of growing up. It is a skill that must be taught and learned. Proficiency in critical thinking is essential to lifelong learning and to dealing effectively with a world of accelerating change. To get a better feel for this, consider the following: For starters, compare how we think about the job market today to how your children may have to think in the future.

For example, today we think: here is my resume; hire me; tell me what to do and then pay me an hourly wage for doing it. This thinking evolved out of the industrial revolution. It assumes stable business content, stable business processes and established companies and corporations who capitalize on the content and processes, produce products, hire people, etc. This basic thinking still exists today.

On the other hand, in the future, companies will be faced with a rapidly changing world in which much business content becomes obsolete every few years. This means companies and corporations must continuously change, adjust and integrate new information and new content into their business processes. Otherwise, they cannot compete in the evolving global information economy.

Employees of the future must adapt as well. Employees of the future are children today. Therefore, children must have the skills necessary to advance beyond the tell-me-what-to-do type jobs. It is easy to say companies will simply re-train their employees when necessary. This may be true today; however, in the future workplace, corporate sponsored re-training may not be an option.

Think about it. By the time corporations pay for and establish formal training programs to train employees on new processes, the processes may be obsolete. So, as workers, our children must be able to train themselves. They must know how to access raw information, process it and apply it real time on the job. There will be no books, no manuals, no teachers, no corporate training programs === just a vast sea of raw information. To be functional, our children must have critical thinking skills. They must have the skills necessary to access this vast sea of raw information, critically evaluated it, weed out what is not applicable and effectively apply information in ways that add value to the business processes of their employers.

For this reason, for years, academia and education researchers have tried to incorporate critical thinking in early K-12 education. Now, as we enter and engage the 21st century, it is even more imperative that we incorporate critical thinking in early K-12 education.