1. Training in social skills. Through playing with other children, a child picks up the skills of sharing, negotiating and cooperating, and gains experience in forming friendships.
2. An awareness of others' feelings. A child learns that others share his worries, fears and delights -- a first step in realizing such feelings are not unique to him alone.
3. A greater trust in adults. By finding out that other adults will care for him, a child learns that he can trust adults other than his parents. This makes the world feel like a safer place.
4. A greater sense of independence. At home a child receives a great deal of one-on-one attention. Learning that attention must be shared with others makes the child more self-reliant.
5. Improved listening and speaking skills. A child has to develop these skills to communicate successfully with the teacher and other children.
6. New experiences. From trips to a bakery to new songs and dances, a child is introduced to activities that help him learn more about the world.
7. Stimulation and activity. A child gets to play with a variety of equipment and materials in a place primarily designed for play.
8. Increased self-esteem. By succeeding at school tasks, a child becomes more confident of his abilities.
9. The satisfaction of belonging to a group. A child gains an appreciation of what school is like and develops a positive attitude toward school. He/She also becomes more comfortable with being away from home for part of or the whole day.
10. Solid preparation for kindergarten. With today's kindergartens turning into yesterday's first grades, preschool now offers the background for success in school that children used to get in kindergarten.
Developing More Awareness of Geography
Parents: The third week in November (Nov. 17-Nov. 23) is Geography Awareness Week. It was established 26 years ago to encourage citizens, young and old, to think and learn about the interconnectedness of the world. Unfortunately, many of today's schools do not focus on teaching geography. So this week is a good week for parents to start taking up the slack and help their children learn more about this subject.
By visiting the Geography Awareness website (geographyawarenessweek.org), parents can find a wide array of activities, events and volunteer opportunities to participate in with their children. The most appealing aspects of this site are the missions that will help you and your children explore your own communities, looking at them through geographic activities. Some intriguing missions from last year include: making a "smell" map of your neighborhood, living on a budget of just $1.25 a day, watching sunrise at sunset, and keeping a ship's log for five days. Completing different missions will enable your children to earn skill badges.
The videos on this website are another very educational aspect that will increase your children's knowledge of geography on such topics as earthquakes, tsunamis and the wildest weather in the solar system. Your children should also enjoy the cartoons on the website.
Use this week and subsequent weeks for all of your family to learn more about geography and have fun together completing the missions. Good luck!
Helping Children Organize their Writing
Question: My fourth-grade son has a very difficult time trying to organize his writing. He is a great little reader, but getting his thoughts down on paper seems to be an impossible task for him. What suggestions do you have so I can help him to improve his writing skills? – Help.
Answer: Since your son is a good reader, this is definitely the place to start. Get some good short children's books out of the library, like a Curious George or Clifford book. Read a book with your son.
Encourage him to tell you what happened first in the book, next and then at the end of the story. By doing this, your son has just completed a verbal outline. Explain that this is one way that authors organize their thoughts, and it is a way that he could organize his own writing.
Read another book together and show him how to make a timeline of the events that happened in the story. Have him write the beginning and ending events on the line and then fill in the middle of the line with a few other events that happened. Point out that this is another way to organize his writing.
Another technique that almost writes a story or report is simply talking to your son about what he wants to say or what he knows about a topic. What he says should then be written down on 3 x 5 cards and placed, by him, in the order of their importance. He can then complete his writing assignment.
Remember this: The more your son writes, the better his writing skills will be.