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3 Cheap, Fun, and Highly Beneficial Hobbies for Your Screen-Addicted Kid
 
If you’re like most parents, the battle to get your child to put down the phone and pick up anything else is never ending. Although there are some educational games and apps with truly beneficial properties out there, most kids would benefit from a fun, educational hobby that doesn’t involve a screen. Here are some that won’t break the bank.
 
Let Your Kid Play the Guitar
 
There are few hobbies more beneficial than learning to play a musical instrument.  If your child is committed to becoming proficient at reading music and translating that to an instrument, they will reap lifelong benefits. While professionals pay thousands for an instrument, finding one for a child doesn’t have to be expensive. Check for special sales, coupons and online offers before you head over to Amazon. Try free online-lessons (there are many) before transitioning to professional in-person instruction.
 
Turn Them Into a Budding Scientist
 
The benefits of developing a scientific mind at an early age are widely noted. Learning about science piques a child’s curiosity and opens up a whole new world! Once they pick their own educational pathway, STEM fields produce some of the greatest rewards in terms of career choices. Fortunately for you, it’s cheap, easy, and a lot of fun to get your child involved in at-home experimentation. Buying things like telescopes, microscopes, and chemistry sets can become expensive unless you scout for weekly savings and promotions at retailers like Target. You should also look into science starter kits, which will allow your budding scientist to begin their adventure without breaking the bank.
 
Let Them Play Chef
 
In the hobby world, it doesn’t get much more convenient and cheap than turning something you already have to do into a fun, educational experience. The family has to eat, and you know that cooking is healthier than ordering take-out. Teaching your kids to cook and/or bake not only gives them a lifetime hobby, but also keeps them fit and healthy.
 
Make sure you get your kid a great age-appropriate cookbook, or simply look online for free, easy recipes for them to try. If you decide to try cookbooks, you can save some money by using coupons and deals to find great books appropriate for your child. However, if you’re not that much of a chef yourself, one smart way to make cooking fun and easy at the beginning is to invest in a meal kit delivery service like Blue Apron. Your child will receive specific instructions alongside with pre-packaged ingredients. It’s great for the novice chef.
 
And as the New York Times points out, cooking with your kids has the added benefits of helping to bring you closer together. You share in the successes as well as the failures. Very few things in life are more enjoyable than eating a delicious bite of food that you prepared yourself, and experiencing life’s most pleasant moments with your child is relationship-building.
 
These hobbies will not only get your kid out from in front of that iPhone or computer screen for a few hours a day, they will also help them learn and practice a skill that will benefit their childhood development and give them something beneficial to do for the rest of their lives.
 

Jenny Wise created Special Home Educator as a forum for sharing her adventures in homeschooling and connecting with other homeschooling families. She enjoys providing advice to parents who are considering homeschooling their kids.

http://specialhomeeducator.com/

By |November 11th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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Educational tips for engaging kids when the weather turns south

If rainy days typically turn outdoor playtime into an indoor television session, it’s time you educate yourself with the various ways to amuse your kids online — social media not included. There are several ways your kids can use technology to their advantage that are as fun as they are educational — for example, a science lesson disguised as a entertaining experiment. It’s a good idea to keep an arsenal of activities on hand for days when Mother Nature isn’t cooperating — especially during a school break when kids have more spare time on their little hands.

Learn How To Code Like A Pro

 Computer programing is a fun yet valuable skill that can potentially aid your child in the future since the tech industry continues to grow by leaps and bounds. There are several online coding courses that teach kids the basics via interactive games and lesson plans to simplify the process and make the information more age appropriate.

Pick Up A Foreign Language

Most European nations have a foreign language requirement in school. Here, we don’t always have that requirement, but that shouldn’t stop you from encouraging your kids to educate themselves at home. Online language courses teach everything from the basics (objects, colors, numbers, food, etc.) to more complex sentence structure. Most lessons provide the opportunity for your child to practice speaking so tone and accent can be corrected. Learning a foreign language can be beneficial in the future from both a career and leisure travel standpoint.

Brush Up On Your History

Statistics prove that American students aren’t grasping history — which is one of the reasons why it can be difficult to have rational discussions about world events. There are several online history courses that cover key historical events throughout the world. Most are geared towards a beginner or intermediate level, so slightly older children and teens are more apt to benefit from these lessons.

Learn To Chill Out With Yoga

 Yoga isn’t reserved for parents alone. In fact, since kids are susceptible to stress from school work and peer pressure, the practice can be helpful in terms of relaxation and stress-reduction — it might even help them sleep better at night. Online, kid-friendly yoga classes teach poses in a way that little ones can understand while making the experience engaging in the process.

Take A Digital Art Class

 Give the crayons and paint brush a rest and enlighten your kids with the myriad of creative possibilities that come with taking a digital art class online, or via an app. Activities include everything from digital-based finger painting, paper doll construction and museum gallery curation.

Enhance Skill Set With A Career-Based Course

 While your kids may be too young to know what career they want to choose, it’s never too early to start learning the various skills associated with different jobs in fields such as medicine, law, and real estate. Not only will they learn about different job functions, but they’ll also pick up valuable life skills in the process. “Real estate is a complex field that requires skills in math, science, English, social studies and home economics,” explains brokerage firm Redfin. By incorporating real estate-based lessons into your curriculum, you can help students gain valuable skills in practical math application, presentation giving, forming a persuasive argument, earth science and so much more.

Staying indoors doesn’t have to be a waste of time. Thanks to technology, finding exciting educational activities is easier. Try mixing things up once in a while so that your kids have a more well-rounded experience.

Jenny Wise created Special Home Educator as a forum for sharing her adventures in homeschooling and connecting with other homeschooling families. She enjoys providing advice to parents who are considering homeschooling their kids.

http://specialhomeeducator.com/

Photo Credit: Pixabay

By |July 31st, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Beat the Summer Slump: 3 Activities to Help Your Child Read This Coming School Year

Summer is a time of family bonding, celebration, and losing hard-won progress in school. But it doesn’t have to be! Establish summer-fun traditions and routines that help your new reader gain ground instead of losing it. Do some family bonding while reading!

  • Shared Reading.

Pick a book that will interest your child at a reading level they can keep up with, and as you read, enlist their “help” by having them track the text with their finger. Then, stop, and let them take a turn reading to you. Switch back and forth. If a word is difficult, tell them the word and write it down. You can include it in a game later.

This “shared reading” builds fluency and confidence with the written word and helps make time reading together constructive and enjoyable. 

  • Create a movement game.

Children learn better when their bodies, as well as their minds, are engaged. To practice new words and letter patterns, print words in big letters on sheets of paper. Then make a game where your child jumps to the word, or throws a bean bag onto the word as you call it out. Take the time to practice that word in a multi-sensory manner, sounding it out as you trace the letters that stand for each sound or, for words that don’t follow phonics rules, clapping as you spell it.

  • Celebrate progress in a big, visual way.

Create a large chart of the words your child has learned, decorated with pictures of their favorite superhero, cartoon or sports figure. Make a bar graph of how many books you’ve read together. Create a paper-chain with new words, so together you can watch progress as the snake moves across the house all summer long.

Do something so your child can see, in a big, visual way their progress toward becoming a stronger reader. Big, visual reminders are great for pulling in the whole family, and for reminding you that it’s time to read!

Summer never has to be a slump for your reader. If you need more support in helping your child catch up with their peers or pull ahead of the pack this summer, contact Advantage Tutoring. With more than 20 years experience creating effective home learning programs, we’re confident that together we can design a system that empowers your learner to finish this summer stronger than they started.

Cathy Pelzmann is a certified reading specialist with a Master’s degree in Special Education. Her undergraduate degree is in elementary education and she has completed additional graduate work in teaching reading.

By |July 30th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

5 Ways to Help Your Struggling Reader: A Reading Specialist Speaks on Parental Involvement and Strategies for Success

Struggles with reading can cause frustration throughout a child’s school experience, and classroom teachers are often overworked and ill-equipped to help children who are falling below grade-level. As a parent, you are in a unique position to reduce your child’s frustration and provide the support they need.

Here are 5 ways you can help your child overcome reading struggles and become an excellent reader.

Step 1: Find the right materials for your child to read aloud with you. 

Frustration can mount quickly when a child tries to read material that is too difficult. Taking time to struggle and “sound out” words can interrupt the flow of the story. This can demoralize a child and they might not remember what they’re reading about.

How to do it: Make sure the materials you use for practice are at your child’s current reading level. If you’re not sure what that is, talk to their teacher, find a simple online assessment, or check the reading level of a book you know they can already read. It’s easy to check the grade level of a book at www.arbookfind.com.

Quick Tip: When your child stumbles on a word, give them the first sound, or give them the word and let them move on! You can work on sounding out words in games and multi-sensory activities.

Step 2. Use multi-sensory activities to practice decoding. 

Decoding is the ability to look at an unfamiliar word and use phonics (an understanding of the sounds letters stand for) to figure it out.

When you use multi-sensory techniques to practice sounding out a word, you engage more of your child’s brain for deeper understanding and easier memorization of the word—not to mention it’s a lot more fun!

How to do it: Basic multi-sensory practice involves tracing the letters that make up a word while slowly saying each sound. (Tip: make sure not to add extra sounds! For instance, avoid saying “caw” for the letter C instead of just the “ck” sound.) For visual and tactile stimulation, your child could write the words in shaving cream, glitter, rice, or on a screen board! Otherwise, brightly colored markers work well. If you have an iPad or tablet, write the words with the Glow Draw app.

Step 3: Use audio books to increase fluency and inspire a love of reading!

How to do it: Take the time to obtain both the printed and the audio version of a book at or slightly above your child’s reading level—audio books can be somewhat higher than a child’s current reading level because of the support they provide.  Select a story on a topic your child will like.

Play the audio book, and have your child follow along with their finger on the printed version while listening to the narrator. After several paragraphs, stop the audio recording, and have them read back a short passage they just heard. You will hear a much more enthusiastic and fluent version of your child reading!

This list of audio books is arranged by grade level and most are available through your public library: http://readingbydesign.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Appendix-3-3.pdf

Step 4: Use games to constantly vary activities.

Practicing the same, simple words over and over can be dull, so vary the practice day to day with new games to make practice fun. This could be as simple as writing the words on pieces of paper and scattering them on the floor; then have your child jump to them before doing the multi-sensory practice. You can even create a board game to practice with your child!  For directions on creating 6 games: http://readingbydesign.net/?page_id=13512

Work with your child’s interests, and almost anything can become a game: bingo, shoot a basket, play a memory game, do a karate kick. The key is to vary activities, and keep your reading practice as a special, fun time you share together.

Step 5: Is practice a chore? Create a rewards program.
Some children have been struggling with reading for a long time, and a negative attitude has already developed. To create a positive atmosphere for your reading time together, create a rewards program tailored to your child. Finish a page? Get a sticker. Practice your words? Earn points. Tally up points that they can use to get something they want!

The key is to create a positive mood and avoid frustration, so make goals easy to reach. Small rewards can be earned daily. A larger reward can be earned with the point system. Just keep the time frame reasonable. A week is a long time for a child!

As a reading specialist, I work with parents every day to develop individualized programs so they can help their own children in overcoming their challenges and learning to read. From dyslexia to auditory processing disorders to the simpler challenges of childhood, I’ve watched parents make all the difference in helping their children attain reading mastery. You are the number one predictor of reading success. What their teachers and their classroom cannot provide, you can.

By reducing frustration, finding the perfect materials to build mastery, engaging more of the brain and building a positive atmosphere, you can make the difference that lets your child love reading.

Cathy Pelzmann is a certified reading specialist with a Master’s degree in Special Education. Her undergraduate degree is in elementary education and she has completed additional graduate work in teaching reading. Her experience includes over twenty years of teaching students with learning problems and helping families tutor their children at home. 

By |May 27th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments