Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving for Preschoolers

Teach your preschooler about Thanksgiving with fun books and activities!

It’s almost time for Thanksgiving, a time of year to share with family and friends and realize everything we have to be thankful for. If you have a preschooler, they may not understand the meaning of the day, or how it happened. Here’s a list of preschooler-approved Thanksgiving books
that will help elaborate on this great day:

The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving, by Ann Mcgovern
Teach your preschooler the history behind Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks, by Margaret Sutherland & Sonja Lamut
Help your preschooler be grateful through this book and its emphasis on giving thanks and the Thanksgiving feast.

What is Thanksgiving, by Michelle Medlock Adams and Amy Wummer
Share the meaning of the holiday through rhymes in this fun book for preschoolers.

After explaining the meaning of Thanksgiving, keep your child occupied with some fun Thanksgiving activities. Have them contribute to the meal by making fall-inspired thanksgiving cookies. Kids can also get involved in setting the table with these fun, decorative ideas.

Most importantly, provide your child with something entertaining to do during downtime. Tadpoles has created a fall coloring page. Simply print and have your child’s imagination take charge. Display their work of art by either scanning and emailing to tadpoles@tadpoles.com, or, simply take a picture with your smartphone and email us and we’ll post it on our Facebook page!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

American Education Week

This week, Nov. 13 through Nov. 19, 2011, is American Education Week. But, what exactly does that mean?

In a recent proclamation, President Obama addressed American Education Week, acknowledging the central role education plays in our society and resolving to make investments in our education system to secure a bright future for students and our Nation. The President went on to say, “…[I] do hereby proclaim November 13 through November 19, 2011, as American Education Week. I call upon all Americans to observe this week by supporting their local schools through appropriate activities, events, and programs designed to help create opportunities for every school and student in America.

The National Education Association kicked off American Education Week with a celebration at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., where education leaders, staff and students discussed the importance of education and what needs to happen to ensure future success. Also, a twitter town hall meeting was called, where followers could use [hashtag] #AskArne to ask questions to Secretary Duncan, moderated by Education Journalist John Merrow.

Throughout the week, each day features a specialized event.Tomorrow, Thursday, Nov. 17 is “Educator for a Day” day, allowing elected officials and community leaders to experience a day in the life of a school teacher. Nov. 17 is also the “Day of Action for the 99%,” where Occupy groups throughout the nation will address the nation’s issues, including the need for school modernization, the achievement gap and education-based jobs.

How will you celebrate American Education Week and/or the Day of Action? Share your plans by commenting below, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Technology in the Classroom: Too Much, or Not Enough?

Earlier, we discussed how some schools were incorporating the iPad into kindergarten classrooms as a part of their early childhood education program. However, technology in the classroom is becoming more and more of a controversial subject.

While many schools are integrating iPads and other technology into their daily learning activities, others are going in a different direction.

The Waldorf School of the Peninsula doesn’t have iPads, or even computers for that matter—they use pens and paper and a chalkboard. Located in Silicon Valley, it is one of approximately 160 Waldorf schools in the country that focus on learning through creative, hands-on activities, with the belief that computers inhibit creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans. Because of the schools location, three-quarters of students have parents with a strong high-tech connection, but they all agree that technology has its time and place.

In fact, some education experts believe that the technological push in classrooms is unwarranted, as it does not necessarily lead to higher test scores. However, in the case of the Waldorf Schools, there are no standardized tests, but 94 percent of students attend college, many going to very prestigious institutions. But then again, these students come from families who have the means to pay for it. While there’s no clear evidence and the debate still continues, it ultimately comes down to student, parent and teacher engagement.

You decide—should technology be used by students in the classroom? Or should it be reserved for parents and teachers? Share your thoughts by commenting below, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Occupying the Classroom: Filling the Early Childhood Education Gap

Is early childhood education the real issue behind the Occupy protests?

By now, you’ve presumably heard of Occupy Wall Street, and other like-minded protests in cities throughout the country that are shedding light on the richest 1 percent of Americans who have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent. While most of the suggested solutions involve changes in taxation, what the issue really comes down to is early childhood education.

We recently discussed the importance of early childhood education, and how children from low-income families are starting kindergarten far behind the standard curve. Now, rather than occupying a street, New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof suggests we occupy the classroom.

Even before kindergarten, there are significant gaps between richer and poorer students, which only increase with time. A good early childhood education can help bridge this gap, but unfortunately, many children from low income families are never given this opportunity. In addition to limited access to good early childhood education, low income parents are often less involved, especially those who work multiple jobs, which sets the child back even farther.

In economist James Heckman’s article, The Economics of Inequality: The Value of Early Childhood Education, he explains how inequality starts at or before birth, stating that, “Schooling after the second grade plays only a minor role in creating or reducing gaps” and that the “logic is quite clear from an economic standpoint. We can invest early to close disparities and prevent achievement gaps, or we can pay to remediate disparities when they are harder and more expensive.”

While there are programs such as Head Start, whose alumni are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college, there needs to be much more done to help build a more fair nation—we can’t afford to wait any longer.

What do you think would help fill the early childhood education gap? Share your thoughts by commenting below, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.