Ten Teacher Appreciation Gift Ideas

When things get busy during the year, it can be easy to overlook what a fantastic job your child’s teacher is doing. Teachers put in much more time and effort than we might realize, often going above and beyond in order to give our kids a great education, so the end of the school year is a fantastic time to recognise this.

Help your child to honor their teacher with this fantastic list of simple, inexpensive gifts which are suitable for both male and female teachers. Some of these gifts can be made with a few simple materials which you may even find around the house, some require a small purchase and others simply require your time.

No matter which gift you choose, we are certain your child’s teacher will appreciate the time you took to say ‘thanks!’

 

1. A Smooth Year

Quick and easy, this small gift is the perfect last minute gift to show appreciation for your teacher! Simply purchase a nice, fragrance appropriate hand cream or body lotion and print off a simple tag with the saying “hope you have a smooth year!”

l

For more instructions, go HERE

 

2. Color My World

Easy and inexpensive, this sharpie gift is both practical and fun! Teachers love when they are given gifts of stationary supplies that they would otherwise have to purchase so this small but cute gift will go down a treat. Have you child grab a pack of sharpies and a piece of paper and let them tell their teacher how much ‘color they bring’ to the world, or how ‘sharp’ they are!

If your child has more than one teacher that they want to give an appreciation gift to, you can buy a larger pack of sharpies and divide it up – it couldn’t be simpler!

ll

For more instructions, go HERE

 

3. Candy Collage

This collage is super fun to make and will bring a smile to any teacher’s face! Grab a range of candy bars which have words that you can incorporate into a story or a series of messages and glue them onto a large piece of paper. After the teacher has enjoyed it on the wall, he or she can raid it for snacks!

This collage is also fantastic for encouraging your children to put words into context and be creative!

ee

 

 

4.  Crayon Wreath

Beautiful as a classroom decoration, this crayon wreath is the perfect gift for a teacher of any age classroom. Simply purchase a packet of dollar store crayons and a basic wreath (or you can fashion one yourself out of paper mache or a pool noodle) and stick the crayons on the wreath at even intervals. To add an extra touch be sure to add a nice sign with your teacher’s name on it.

ee

For more instructions, go HERE

 

5. Nuts About Teachers

This one is super simple and can be picked up while you shop for your usual groceries. Simply have your kids draw or print a super cute sign about how ‘nuts’ they are about their teacher and attach it to a snack size bag of peanuts or other nut. These nuts will make the perfect morning tea for the teacher!

ee

For more instructions, go HERE

 

6. Orange You Glad?

With colds and flu’s rife in schools, teachers sure need their vitamin C! Make sure they get it with this fun and healthy gift that will brighten up their day! Simply bag up some oranges with a bright colored ribbon and print or draw a sign that reads “Orange you glad” it’s the holidays, the weekend (or whatever message you choose). Kids will love putting it together and teachers will love receiving it.

ee

For more instructions, go HERE

 

7. Beary Thankful

Adorable and tasty, you can’t lose with this super cute and easy gift. Simply package up some gummy bears and attach a card telling the teacher how ‘bear-y thankful’ your child is to have them as a teacher. Just make sure all the gummy bears end up in the bag bound for the teacher!

ee

For more instructions, go HERE

 

8. So Fortunate

No matter how old you are, cracking open a fortune cookie never stops being fun. Fortune cookies are super easy to find in stores so grab a box and attach a tag telling your child’s teacher how fortunate your child is to have them. This is one of the cheapest gift ideas and is a great idea if you need to give a gift to multiple teachers.

ee

For more instructions, go HERE

 

9. Fingerprint Tree

If you want your teacher appreciation gift to be super personal and almost free, then get this great printable and have your child or children place their fingerprints on it for the tree leaves. Your teacher will treasure the time and effort your children put into creating this beautiful piece of artwork, just for them.

ee

For more instructions, go HERE

 

10. Pencil, Pencil Holder

Yes, you read that one correctly! This pencil holder is quite literally…made from pencils! Cute and easy to make, your teacher will love how themed this pencil holder is and will give it pride of place on his or her desk.  Simply hot glue plain HB pencils around a clean, old aluminium food can and secure with a ribbon. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even fill the pencil tin with pens and pencils for your teacher to use, or fill with confectionery for those must-have-sugar moments!

ee

 

For more instructions, go HERE

20 Ways to Spice Up Your Kids Lunchbox

 

Providing lunch for your children can be a challenge. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches quickly get old and they are not the most healthy option. Packaged lunch alternatives often contain additives and preservatives as well as unnecessary amounts of trans-fats, salt and sugar. So, as a health-conscious parent who is attempting to provide a fun, unique lunch for their child, what can you do? You could spend the whole day researching ideas. However, in this article, we have saved you the trouble. Below are twenty ideas for spicing up your children’s lunches they are sure to love and will not want to trade to their friends.

 

Celery Stick Paintbrushes

Veggies are not generally something any child wants in their lunch. However, they will soon change their tune with these celery paintbrushes. Take celery sticks. Cut the ends so they flare out like paint brushes. Then include tiny cups of mayo, mustard and ketchup to serve as the paint. Also include a classic ham or turkey sandwich, allowing your little artists to paint designs on their sandwiches before they eat them.

 

Carrot Pencils

To get your children to eat carrots, simply trim down one end, shaping the carrot into the shape of a pencil. These would also be wonderful to include along with the celery paint brushes as another artistic medium for your sandwich topping artists.

 

Octopus Weenies

Octopus weenies are a favorite of both children and adults alike in Japan and they will be a favorite of your little ones too, especially if they love sea life. Start with a cocktail weenie. Cut little slits in the weenie till they are about halfway up. These become little dangling legs. Fry the weenies and the legs will curl up, giving you a perfect octopus.

 

Pigs in a Blanket

Pigs in a blanket are not generally considered the most healthy lunchtime choice, but children love them. To make your pigs in a blanket more healthy, use turkey sausages or cocktail weenies. Cut down on the amount of cheese the recipe calls for. Serve these sparingly and they become a lunchtime treat your child will be delighted to see in their lunchbox.

 

Pizza Pocket Puffs

These alliteratively-named snacks are a wonderful treat. Simply roll out filo dough or crescent roll dough into thin sheets. Then put a bit of cheese, some mini pepperoni, or your child’s pizza toppings of choice inside. Fold into a little pocket, crimp the edges and bake. These are just like having pizza for lunch, but with none of the mess!

 

Kebabs

Everything is more fun on a stick. So why not pack your children fruit skewers or meat and veggie kebabs on small, flat skewers. They are quick and easy to make, easy to eat and mess-free and even better, they are not the typical sandwich.

 

Quesadillas

Most children love cheese. Instead of packing your child a grilled cheese for lunch, why not pack a quesadilla? Your children will be happy you did.

 

Spring Rolls

Children and adults in Asia often eat spring rolls. You can make these delicious rolled up meals using rice paper wrappers or lettuce leaves. Fill them with grilled pork, chicken or shrimp and vegetables for a well-balanced lunch.

 

International Lunches

Help your children learn about the cuisine of other countries by preparing international foods for their lunch box. Start on Monday, and prepare a simple dish from a country of the child’s choice. Each day of the week, pick another country.

 

Cookie-cutter Sandwiches

If you have to make a classic sandwich, do something special with it. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes into the sandwich. This way your child can punch out the shapes. For more fun, make the shapes fit a theme, and see if your child can guess what the theme is.

 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Apples

Why make a peanut butter and Jelly sandwich when you can do the same thing with a delicious, crunchy apple. Cut the apple in half, carefully remove the core, and then fill with delicious peanut butter and jelly.

 

Ants on a Log

While not an entire meal in itself, ants on a log is still a good way to spice up your child’s lunch box. A celery stick is your log, to which raisin “ants” are attached with peanut butter.

 

Roll-ups

If you have to use lunch meat in your child’s lunch, why not make a roll-up? Take deli turkey or ham. Then put a slice of cheese on it. Then put a lettuce leaf in the middle and roll tightly. Your children will never think of lunch meat the same again.

 

Miniature Hamburgers

Hamburgers are always a favorite. Grill small hamburger patties on an indoor grill the night before, and then pop them together the next morning. Your little ones will love it. You could also make baked French fries to go with it.

 

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Slices

Instead of including boring old apple slices in your kid’s lunch, why not give them cinnamon sugar apple slices instead? Simply put a bit of cinnamon and sugar in a baggie. Add apple slices and shake to coat.

 

Ocean Lunch

An ocean lunch is easy to make. Start with fish sticks. To accompany these, give your children blue Jell-o. Add gummy sea creatures for the ocean look.

 

Holiday-themed Foods

Is there a big holiday coming up? If so, holiday-themed foods are a great way to get the kids excited. Be creative! Boiled eggs with dyed shells are a great idea for Easter, for example.

 

 Sports Lunch

If your child loves sports, use that to your advantage. Make them a stadium-themed lunch. Turkey hot dogs, homemade nacho dip and tortilla chips for dipping make a perfect lunch.

 

Tortilla Stars

Instead of serving your child boring old tortilla chips, make tortilla stars instead. Using a star-shaped cookie cutter, cut two or three-inch star shapes from a tortilla. Top with cheese and spices. Bake cheese side down on a baking rack till golden.

 

Vegan Lunch

For those of you with children who are vegan/vegetarian, tofu nuggets are an excellent option. Include a few small cups of your children’s favorite dipping sauce, some carrot sticks and a healthy drink option, and you are good to go.

 

School lunches do not have to be boring. In fact, they can be quite unique, as the list above proves. Use your creativity and imagination, and the sky is the limit.

Teaching New Vocabulary Words

Learning vocabulary an important part of education and life at any age. In fact, several markers of success in life have been correlated to having a larger vocabulary. In addition to this, keeping your students at grade level standards for vocabulary comprehension is critical for passing standardized assessment like Common Core’s PARCC tests.

But it takes more than copying down a new word’s definition for students to gain a true command over new vocabulary words. To help students grow a deep understanding of words, use interactive methods that make your students interact with the words in many different ways.

Here are some examples of ways to stretch students’ thinking and comprehension for new vocabulary:

Offer an extensive class library
Seeing new vocabulary words in context helps students learn new words. Encourage this by maintaining a large library of books students can borrow that are appropriate but challenging for the students’ level.

Identify vocabulary in books the class is reading together
Have students skim each chapter before reading it and write out any words they don’t know and use their lists as a guide to create a vocabulary list for the class. Before reading the chapter in full, review the list and their definitions.

Get students to restate or explain each word in their own words
This can be as simple as having students pair up with whoever sits next to them to discuss, or write it on paper. What’s important is that each student takes ownership of each word by explaining it themselves.

Have students create a visual representation of each word

As a class activity, have students create their own pictures (or other symbolic representations) of the words on the vocabulary list. This helps students think about a word’s meaning and gain a deeper understanding.

Have students create analogies for each word
This exercise is another way to tap into students’ creativity and get them to think more critically about the meanings of words on their vocabulary list. By creating their own analogies, students must determine their own understanding of a word’s given definition.

Have students find synonyms and antonyms for each word
Much like creating analogies for vocabulary words, this exercise makes students use other words in their vocabulary to develop a stronger contextual sense of the word’s definition.

Have students create their own jingles for the words and definitions.
The repetition of these creative exercises will help students engage with the vocabulary words with many different parts of their mind. Even better, a jingle can double as a mnemonic device that students can use as a reminder for words later on.

Keep reviewing old vocabulary words with games.
Don’t let old vocabulary words disappear after the test. To make sure those words become a long-term part of students’ vocabulary (and that they’re fresh for the end-of-year assessment), create games to play as a class that will reinforce them all year. Need ideas? Here’s a good place to start.

When these many different interactive learning techniques are used together, students develop a strong command over new vocabulary words. Better yet, an ability to use and understand these words stretches far beyond the next test and throughout students’ lives.

Using YouTube in the Classroom

As technology becomes more integrated into education methods, utilizing YouTube in the classroom is a trend on the rise. Early studies testing its effectiveness are proving promising.

In high school classrooms in Detroit, a video-enabled flipped classroom program helped reduce the fail rate for freshmen English and math classes by more than half. Additionally, semester to semester, discipline cases dropped from 736 to 249.

Used well, it’s clear that video can be a powerful educational tool. And it’s gaining traction, too—Education-oriented video channel TedEd has over a million subscribers.

How can you tap into this trend and enhance your students’ learning experience with YouTube? Here are some tips.

  • Create YouTube playlists as resources for the lessons.
  • Record class lessons and post them on YouTube for to access for on-demand review.
  • Keep videos short—no more than 10 minutes long—and opt for high-energy videos that will engage.
  • Use videos to bring a lesson to life: Watch a poet recite her own work, pull a segment of a play based on a book you’re reading, or show a reenactment of a moment in history.
  • Bring in a guest lecturer by showing filmed addresses from experts in fields you’re studying in class.
  • Every student’s learning pace is a little different. For students who take more time, sharing relevant videos for review can help students get the extra support they need. For students who are ahead of the pack, look for videos that can take lessons to the next level, keeping advanced students engaged.
  • Take advantage of education-oriented video tools like TeacherTube, TedEd, and YouTube for Schools to ensure quality educational content.
  • Don’t use video to replace lessons, only to supplement them.
  • The Internet, YouTube included, is full of all kinds of content, some extremely questionable for a classroom. Always watch videos all the way to the end before showing them to students, and never let students surf video content on their own.

A Powerful Educational Tool

When used wisely, YouTube can be a powerful tool to enhance students’ learning process. Early studies indicate significant improvements in performance and even in-class behavior when videos are used to enhance lessons. With some mindful application, you can tap into this potential to enrich your students’ education.

Using Devices in Elementary Years

When you think of children in the classroom, it is likely that your mind turns to studious heads bent low over notebooks, textbooks and worksheet handouts. It is likely you think of children turning in handwritten assignments, and if they are very young, learning to read and write like you did as a child. It is unlikely, however, that you think of those same children leaning over tablets and computers, playing educational games and sending in assignments that are typed, but this very picture is becoming a reality in a lot of classrooms around the country. Tablets and computers in the classroom offer some very distinct advantages to the elementary school student beyond just the novelty of using a computer in class. Electronic devices such as computers and tablets really are the way forward. Keep reading to learn why this is.

 

Interactivity

Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom are quite interactive. They allow students to write, publish and edit which are important workforce skills. Students are also encouraged to collaborate with other learners who may have different learning styles. This builds teamwork skills, as well as helping students become effective communicators with a wide variety of other students in classrooms across the country. This exercise also encourages problem-solving as students may have to work around such issues as language barriers and accessibility needs of others they come into contact with. Furthermore, this increased interactivity allows students to have an authentic learning experience in a way that is difficult to reproduce in physical space.

 

Accommodating Differentiated Learning

Not all students learn in the same manner. Computers and tablets in the classroom can help every student, based on learning style. Education no longer has to be simply a matter of writing and memorizing facts. Students can be shown how things happen, and in some cases they can actually have a chance to do things hands-on, even virtually. Also, for those students who have English as a second language, or those with learning disabilities there are podcasts and vodcasts, which allow students to have the content read aloud to them, and also to go back and study content which they have previously had difficulty with at any time.

 

The STEM Subjects and Digital Literacy

STEM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. These skills are all very important if a student plans on entering the job market later in life. It is important to start teaching children these necessary tasks even in the early elementary years. Furthermore, an increase in digital literacy early on means that children, by the time they are ready to find a job, will already be  familiar with computers and tablets, and will not have to take classes on basic computer use before seeking that first job or college education, as many college classes also have a computer component.

 

Learning early use of computers is overall an important skillset for students, and what better place to learn than in the classroom? Computer-aided curricula allow students to become better problem solvers. They also learn to more effectively manage as team players, to anticipate and work with the needs of others, and to positively collaborate with children who may be quite different than themselves. Further, technology in the classroom allows for the lesson materials to be tailored to a child’s individual learning style. Computer-aided lessons also allow for a hands-on experience and incorporation of the STEM subjects into the curriculum. Therefore, having computers in the classroom really is the way to proceed.

How to Handle Bullying Situations In School

According to DoSomething.org, a whopping 3.2 million students are bullied each year. Most teachers want to help, but we can’t always prevent bullying situations from occurring, but we can be prepared to handle bullying properly when it does take place.

Here are some tips to handle bullying situations involving your students:

 

Responding to Acts of Bullying:

  • If you witness bullying taking place, act immediately and stay calm. If necessary, get a second adult to help.
  • However, don’t call out other students to publicly state what they saw, and don’t question the students involved in front of other kids. Don’t force the students involved to make up on the spot.
  • Instead, separate the students involved. Before anything else, check to make sure that they are all safe and uninjured. Don’t try to sort out the facts from the students on the spot, and don’t talk to the two students involved together.
  • Address any medical or mental health needs, and get the police or medical professionals involved immediately if there was a weapon involved, any kind of hate-motivated violence such as racism or homophobia, or sexual abuse.
  • Also involve the police if there were threats of violence or accusations of any kind of illegal act, such as a theft.
  • As you deal with the students involved, model the kind of behavior you want students to emulate. Stay calm, and listen without blaming. Speak to each student involved, keeping the involved parties separate.
  • Don’t call the act “bullying” while you are still collecting information about what happened.
  • Whatever you do, don’t ignore the situation—bullying is not something students will work out on their own.

 

Dealing With a Student Who Was Bullied

  • Assure the student it is not their fault. Focus on the student to understand what the situation is, and show them you want to help.
  • Ask the student what would make them feel safe—but keep changes to their routine at minimal as possible, as the bullied student should not be singled out or penalized for being a victim. Work with schools, parents, and other relevant organizations to create a plan to ensure the student’s safety.
  • Never tell a student to just ignore a bully, and don’t blame the student for being bullied.
  • Children who are bullied sometimes struggle to talk about it, and may do better if referred to a mental health professional.

 

Dealing With a Bully

  • When addressing a bully, be clear about what the problem behavior is—and that bullying will not be tolerated.
  • Appropriate consequences for bullying behaviors focus on building empathy. For example, have the student lead a class discussion about how to be a good friend, or read a book about bullying.
  • It can also be beneficial to involve the student in making amends with the student who was bullied. This can include writing a letter apologizing, or paying for any property damaged. And of course, adhere to any guidelines in your school district’s code of conduct.
  • However, avoid using “zero tolerance” or “three strikes” approaches—witnesses to bullying tend to be less likely to report it if suspension or expulsion is the consequence.
  • Group treatment and peer mediation don’t work, either. Bullies tend to encourage bad behaviors in each other in groups, while mediation is only appropriate for parties who share equal blame.

 

Working for Safer Schools

A teacher can’t always prevent a bullying situation from occurring, but how you respond to one can be the difference between ongoing harassment and a brief incident. When adults act quickly and consistently to bullying, students get the message that this behavior is not acceptable, and research shows that this significantly reduces bullying behavior over time.

And remember, be persistent. Bullying is not likely to stop immediately, but by being diligent and working together with others at the school, you can create a safe environment for all students.

Bullying: Advice for Parents and Teachers

What is Bullying?

Put simply, bullying is when one child picks on another child. Bullying is defined as any unwanted, aggressive behavior from one or more children, toward another child or children. Bullying is often not an isolated event, but rather is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated.

Bullying can happen in various ways – physically, verbally or socially. It can take place anywhere – at school, on the bus, over the internet or even via texting. Bullying often involves an imbalance of power – whether it is real or perceived – leaving the victim feeling intimidated and inferior.

 

There are three main types of bullying which occur:

 

Verbal

This can include teasing, name-calling, taunting, making inappropriate comments or verbally threatening. This can occur orally or through written messages on the internet or via mobile phones

 

Social

Social bullying relates to bullying which affects a child’s social relationships. This might include attempts at damaging a child’s reputation by spreading rumours, leaving someone out in an attempt to isolate them or making public attempts to embarrass them.

 

Physical

Physical bullying relates to hurting a child physically, or even hurting their possessions. Physical bullies may use aggressive physical behavior such as hitting or kicking to hurt a child, they might try and induce physical harm by tripping someone or pulling their chair out etc., or may simply use rude hand gestures toward them.

 

National studies show that almost 30 percent of children are bullied, with cyberbullying becoming the fastest growing method of delivering the bullying behavior. Children who are bullied as well as children who bully are both at risk for very serious, lasting problems. Whether your child or student is being bullied or they are doing the bullying, it is a serious issue which needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

 

 

When Your Child or Student Is Bullied

Children who are bullied often feel vulnerable and powerless to their situations. If the bullying has been happening for some time they are often conditioned to feel different and alone.
Children who are bullied are often unable to stand up for themselves because the power imbalance that occurs in bullying can leave them feeling that they are not as powerful as the bully. Victims of bullying often exhibit behaviors such as appearing anxious or nervous, feeling sick or not doing as well at school as they usually do. If your child or student is acting differently, try and find out if they are being bullied. If they are, make sure the school and teachers are aware of the problems, and try the following tips in order to help the child deal with the situation:

 

·        Ask what he or she needs to feel safe and be clear that you are there to help
·        Teach the child to respond by looking the bully in the eye, standing tall and remaining calm. Teach them to walk away with their head held high.
·        Teach the child how to address the bully in a firm voice. Saying things like “I don’t like that” and “Please do not speak to me like that” can be helpful in confronting the bully about his or her behavior.
·        Ensure that the child knows who they can speak to about being bullied – trusted adults, teachers etc.
·        Develop a plan of action – be sure to communicate openly with the school and plan some steps that can be taken in order to resolve the situation. Consider what changes could be made to help (rearranging the classroom, switching bus route etc.)

 

Most importantly, be sure you support the child who is being bullied. Listen to what has been happening and focus on how the child is feeling. Assure the child that what has been happening is not their fault and that they are not alone – lots of other children have struggled with this problem. If your child is not willing to talk about it or is having difficulty opening up, think about who else might be able to speak with them about it – consider a school counsellor or other mental health service.

 

Don’t forget to be persistent – the issue may not resolve itself overnight. You will need to commit to ensuring that the bullying stops and support the child until it does.

 

When Your Child Is the Bully

Kids can exhibit bullying behavior for a number of reasons. This may include copying friends or trying to look ‘cool’, bullying in order to make themselves feel better or more powerful than the child they are bullying or even as a reaction to other circumstances in their lives such as problems at home. Whatever the reason – bullying is never acceptable. Studies have shown that children who bully often encounter problems as adults, including substance abuse, getting into fights and leaving school early.
If your child or student is responsible for bullying, it is important to address it right away – for the good of the child being bullied, and the bully. Here are some tips for addressing bullying with the child who is carrying out the bullying behavior:

 

·         Ensure that the child knows what it is they are doing wrong. In some cases, children don’t even realise how what they are doing is wrong or how it hurts people. Be specific – point out why it’s wrong and how it affects the child being bullied.
·         Be serious. Bullying is not a joking matter – make sure your child or student knows that you are taking the issue very seriously and that any continuation of the behavior will not be tolerated.
·         Speak with the child and try to get to the bottom of why he or she might be doing the bullying. Consider whether he or she might need some additional support from the school counsellor or another outside organisation.
·         Let the punishment fit the crime. Children who bully should not simply be let away with it – use consequences but ensure that they are appropriate and help the child to learn about bullying (you might consider having the child make an anti-bullying poster to paste around the school, or write a story about the effects of bullying on other children).
·         Make sure the child who bullied is involved in repairing the situation they have caused. This might mean writing a letter of apology or replacing any property that was damaged.

 

When Your Child Is a Bystander

If your child or student is merely a witness to bullying, there are still things to be aware of. Children who witness bullying may feel helpless or worried for another child’s safety, or their own. They may start to join in the bullying or they may not tell anyone about the bullying if they are feeling anxious that they will be bullied. Encourage children who are bystanders to tell an adult as soon as possible about the bullying and to help support bullied children.

Even being a bystander to bullying can affect children very negatively. Make sure they know that it is okay to speak out.

Traditional Education: Does ‘later’ always mean ‘greater’?

Traditional education is, at its core, the most commonly practised form of education throughout much of the world.  This term refers to a back-to-basics way of teaching, where a single instructor (or perhaps an instructor with an aide, for larger classes) speaks to a group of students who are seated at desks or tables.  This teacher-driven type of education has been called into question in recent years, with some groups hoping to reform the educational system and provide students with a task-oriented learning environment that is not so rigidly structured.  This means that teachers must rethink their strategies and try to determine where they and their methods fall in the world of new education reform.

 

“Old School” Educational Methods

For a long time, education has been centered around traditional “old school” methods of providing students with information.  To this day, several of these methods are still used in the classroom, but they are becoming much less commonplace.  For example, English and vocabulary lessons are no longer based on the study of root words and phonics, as they once were.  Students of the past learned new vocabulary words by identifying their roots and thinking about where they could have come from.  The word “questionable,” for example, has a root word of “question,” which can lead a student to make a good guess as to what the word means.

Math, too, was once taught much differently than it is today.  Students were required to memorize their times tables when they learned multiplication, and classrooms were filled with math pupils who recited, in unison, simple multiplication based on number families.  Some schools even went so far as to have students write their times tables by hand over and over again to ingrain the information into their minds.

Even handwriting has fallen to the wayside and is no longer explored in the classroom the way it used to be.  Students are no longer taught cursive writing at all, save for in certain private schools, and penmanship is not a subject that is graded by teachers any longer.  Students are allowed to write in whatever hand they develop, so long as it is somewhat legible by the teacher.

 

New Methods of Teaching

There are many ways in which teachers are moving from these traditional, teacher-centered ways of presenting students with information and into a more hands-on, student-driven educational environment.  Perhaps the largest of these new methods is student engagement.  This refers to a teacher giving students basic information and then engaging them in a conversation about the subject matter.  Students learn analytical skills by thinking about the facts they have been given and working toward understanding why things happen the way they do, and how the information pertains to them and their personal lives.

Engagement also refers to giving students hands-on experience in any given subject.  Field trips are much more common in an engagement-driven classroom, and students visit locations where they can watch real world applications of the subjects they learn in school.  Even a local business office can be a great field trip location for students who want to see how math, communication, or other subjects can affect their adult lives.

Some teachers are beginning to adopt a concept called spaced learning for information presentation in the classroom.  This works with the short attention spans of today’s students by combining a small amount of rote memorization with plenty of fun activities to keep the brain moving.  In a spaced learning classroom, a teacher sets aside about an hour to an hour and a half of class time to focus on a subject.  The information is taught to the students first for about fifteen minutes, in a condensed format.  Students then break for a physical activity that lasts ten minutes, before returning to hear the same information repeated in the same order for another fifteen minutes.  The ten-minute physical activity break is repeated, and finally, the fifteen minutes of information is repeated once more to solidify the learning experience.

Spaced learning may seem a little strange at first, but it is a great way to keep students interested in the topic at hand by providing them frequent mental breaks.  The repetition of the information helps keep the subject fresh in their minds, and the physical activity keeps them from getting bored and losing focus.

 

Why Should Teachers Be Current?

It is very important for teachers to remain up to date with current trends in educational practices.  Prepared teachers who are willing to try new methods of helping students learn are some of the greatest teachers out there, and the results from their classrooms will surely prove that.  Continuing education courses as well as lectures from successful teachers can provide plenty of opportunity for educators to learn about new methods for their own classrooms.  As society and children change throughout the years, the needs of students and their ability to focus and pay attention also changes.  It is vital for teachers to be ready to combat these changes with a dynamic strategy for their lessons.

Fun & Healthy Lunchbox Ideas for Kids

Many studies have proven that children need to eat a nutritious breakfast in order to perform well at school, but what most parents don’t realise is that having a healthy, balanced lunch is just as important.

Children need a nutritious meal in the middle of the day to re-boost their concentration and give them the energy they need to power through the mid-afternoon slump and get the school day finished.

 

School Provided Food

Most schools regularly send home information about what food or meal plans are offered through the cafeteria. Look through the material with your children and plan on the days when your child will eat from the school’s menu, and what days he or she will take a packed lunch. If your child would like to purchase his or her lunch from a school vending machine, be sure to check that they stock healthy choices your child can choose from such as yoghurt, fresh fruit and water.

 

Packed Lunches

Providing a packed lunch for your child can be a fine balancing act. Parents who prepare their children’s lunches realise that they are playing an important role in their child’s diet, and overall health.

Studies have shown that children who are healthy and eat well balanced meals tend to out-perform those who do not, particularly in school. This means that it is important to ensure that each lunch is healthy and filling, providing an opportunity for your child to do their best at school.

A nutritionally balanced diet should contain a mixture of the following:

 

  • A filling, starchy food such as bread, rice, pasta
  • A food high in protein such as egg, meat or beans
  • One or two serves of fruit or vegetables
  • A low fat dairy item such as cheese of yoghurt

 

These items can be made fresh, or can even be made up from leftovers. Whatever you use, make sure you add variety – mot children do not enjoy eating the same things every day so play around with the following ideas and introduce them to some healthy new foods:

  • Carrot or celery sticks with hummus
  • Trail mixes
  • Wholegrain pretzel sticks with herbed cream cheese
  • Granola bars
  • Fruit salad
  • Cheese cubes
  • Fruit and nut quinoa
  • Beef jerky
  • Tapioca pudding
  • Fresh fruit and yoghurt
  • A few small squares of dark chocolate
  • Homemade sushi
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Air popped popcorn
  • Sugar snap peas and sour cream dip
  • Fruit or vegetable kebabs
  • Pickles with tzatziki dip
  • Mini muffins
  • English muffin pizzas
  • Pasta salad
  • Unsweetened apple sauce
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Apple slices with peanut butter
  • Mini pancakes with honey
  • Filled pita bread
  • Sliced bell pepper and salsa
  • Rice salad
  • Meat roll ups

These simple, healthy ideas will boost your child for an active afternoon and will fuel their bodies to support their learning.

 

If you are providing a packed lunch, be sure to also keep these tips in mind:

  • Always pack lunches the night before – that way you won’t be tempted to quickly add packets of processed foods because you are rushing.
  • Ensure that your child’s lunch box or bag is clearly named in case it gets lost.
  • Involve your kids in the lunch-making process. Having your child help you will help to teach them about making healthy choices and will increase the likelihood that they eat their lunch, since they helped put it together themselves.
  • Think about what packaging you will use. Most schools now prefer ‘rubbish-free’ lunches which means using small reusable containers. Just make sure they can open them independently, and that they are secure and won’t leak.
  • Don’t give into peer pressure. Children are masters at telling parents what the other children are having in their lunch. Only you know what is right for your child – go with your gut.
  • Be creative! Kids love tiny portions, fun shapes and variety! Experiment with cookie cutters, toothpicks and make sure the lunchbox contains a variety of color to keep them interested.

Backpack Safety

With the summer coming to a close, matters such as uniforms, stationery and bus routes are often at the top of any parents mind, as children everywhere start preparing for their return to school. However, one important piece of school equipment is commonly overlooked: the backpack.

While buying whichever backpack is in fashion, or the least expensive might be your first port of call, it is important to keep in mind what the best fit might be for a healthy backpack. Not all backpacks are created equal, and your child will wear whichever pack you choose every day, so it’s worth taking the time to ensure that you have chosen a backpack that will help your child to be comfortable and secure throughout the entire school day.

A backpack is an essential item that no school child can do without but according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, almost 28,000 injuries are treated in emergency rooms each year due to wearing backpacks. The following are our tips for ensuring that your child’s backpack is the best fit. A child wearing an inadequate backpack or wearing one incorrectly can lead to muscle strains, pain and fatigue.

Get your child started off on the right foot this school year by making sure they have the right backpack, and know how to wear it properly.

 

Buying

  • When buying a backpack, choose one with wide, padded straps and a padded back. The padding will provide additional support and stop the straps from digging into your child’s shoulders when the backpack is full
  • If the school allows it, consider purchasing a rolling backpack – this will give your child some respite from wearing it all the time if it contains a heavy load. Just make sure that the backpack fits into your child’s locker
  • Choose a backpack that is no wider or longer than your child’s torso. Have your child try the backpack on and check that it fits from around two inches below your child’s shoulder blades to their waist
  • Make sure your child can stand straight with the backpack on – if they lean forward when the backpack is on then it doesn’t fit them correctly
  • If you purchase a backpack online, make sure there is a return policy just in case it fits your child poorly and needs to be exchanged
  • Consider choosing a backpack with a hip belt – these help to relieve some of the weight, particularly taking it off the shoulders and neck
  • According to studies, almost 80 percent of school children think their bag is too heavy. Don’t purchase a larger bag, hoping it will last longer – buy a bag that is size appropriate for your child’s age
  • Take into account the weight of the bag before you buy it – canvas and cotton bags weigh less than leather
  • Make sure the backpack has a drink bottle holder on the outside to avoid spillage and consequent problems such as stains or mildew

 

Wearing

  • Don’t overload backpacks with unnecessary items. Make sure it has all the essentials but does not weight more than 10 to 20 percent of your child’s overall body weight.
  • If your child has a lot of heavy books to carry, encourage them to leave as much as they can in their locker or desk while at school, and leave any unnecessary items at home. If this is not possible, offset some of the weight by using a book bag which can be carried separately
  • Make good use of all the compartments in a backpack so that the weight is distributed as evenly as possible. Properly utilising compartments also makes it easier for kids to find the things they need quickly
  • If your child is carrying heavier items, make sure they are packed as close to the back as you can, in the center of the bag
  • Don’t allow your child to sling their backpack over one shoulder – both straps should be used to avoid straining muscles and causing poor posture

 

If you notice anything unusual about your child when they are wearing their backpack, check it. Changes in posture, pain, red markings, numbness or difficulty taking the bag off or on can all be signs that the backpack is too heavy or is inadequate.