Keeping Up with Educational Curriculum at Home During Social Distancing

Keeping Up with Educational Curriculum at Home During Social Distancing

With educational facilities across the country shifting to distance learning tactics in efforts to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, families everywhere are trying to adapt to the new way of educating their children. Between changing career dynamics as well as the social distancing and online learning switch for children, for many of us, our daily schedules have been thrown into a chaotic juggling routine. To ease the chaos and help your child keep up with their educational curriculum at home, here are a few tips for families to get the most out of the distance learning experience:

Organizing and Planning for Educational Curriculum at Home

If your child is having problems staying focused during the distance learning phase, it may help to do an evaluation of the learning space you have set up for them and make some adjustments. Since classrooms are set up to encourage focused and structured learning, the sudden switch to lessons in a non-structured environment at home can cause an issue with distractions and problems focusing.

To help your child concentrate and excel with home learning, they need a space that is designated for such activities. Organize a learning station for them that includes all of their needed supplies and materials and is located in a quiet area of the home that is free from distractions (or as much as possible). Have their supplies organized and in an easy to use location in their area so it is structured to promote learning just as their classroom is.

Scheduling Time for Distance Learning

Another element students get from their classrooms is a designated time and schedule for lessons. Learning from home can often lose the order provided by structured curriculum in the classroom. Providing a set schedule for your children to follow at home will help reinforce the new daily routine and promote learning during homeschooling exercises. Set aside specific times each day for your child to work on different areas of study and block out the time on a visible calendar for the entire family to see.

In addition to having designated time blocks for home learning, it’s also important to utilize your calendars to make note of any and all due dates for items. Help your child track certain assignments, themes, and upcoming activities by placing them on the calendar so you can help your child better manage their progress throughout the week.

Allow Time for Breaks and Refocusing

As much as you may want to push structure and routine to help your child focus, remember it’s also important to allow them time to take breaks as needed. Children take frequent breaks in the classroom in order to give them a chance to not only move around a bit, but to allow them the chance to refocus. If you notice your child is acting frustrated or having issues staying on task, it may be time for a break.

Plan for some simple activities that can help your child have a bit of a breather during their learning sessions at home. Let them take a quick break to run outside for 15 minutes or allow them a chance to change activities indoors (coloring, playing blocks, etc.) and consider it a small “recess” for them. The change will allow them to get a bit of a cognitive refresher before asking them to sit back down and finish their lesson. Above all, keep in mind that your children are experiencing a major change as well – practice as much patience with them as possible.

How to Help Your Child Cope with Social Distancing

How to Help Your Child Cope with Social Distancing

With the global COVID-19 pandemic keeping populations isolated and practicing social distancing everywhere, many families are being forced to modify their daily routines and adjust to life at home. For some, this may not present much change from their current lives, but for many more, the closing of schools, businesses, and social areas have brought with it some major life changes. As parents try to navigate their way through a workday from home while simultaneously balancing homeschooling and the needs of their children, stressors can soar, wreaking havoc on family and career dynamics. Finding ways to help cope with social distancing while remaining productive and healthy can help the overall welfare of your family exponentially.

Dealing with the Pandemic

Anytime our lives are thrust into a major disruption of daily routines, we undergo a certain level of stress and anxiety. Research has shown that change results in higher stress levels in humans, in large part due to the uncertainty that come with the break in routine. Since the break in routine demands us to react and adjust, that adds stress to our otherwise auto-pilot sense of daily activities. While there is still debate over how some react with much lower stress levels than others, there are a wide range of choices we can make that will help us cope when faced with this demanding change.

With so much of the stress revolving around uncertainty, it makes sense to try and ease the anxiety of what we don’t know by learning more. By educating ourselves (and our families) about what is going on with the pandemic, we are essentially lessening the uncertainty. While it’s obviously not possible to eliminate the unknowns entirely, we can empower ourselves by staying current on the CDC guidelines and recommendations and ensuring we know how to do our part to help end the social distancing norm as quickly as possible. Knowing what is expected of us in the midst of a routine shift can help give us back a small sense of control which, in turn, lessens stress.  

Identifying and Addressing the Stressors

Once you’ve educated yourself (and your families) on the details of the social distancing changes, you can help continue lessening the stress by identifying and addressing the specific stressors. If you’re currently struggling with staying focused on your career with home-induced distractions, or your child is finding it difficult to focus on learning activities without the constructs of a formal classroom, for example, start by identifying the issues.

Make note of what the largest issues are that are keeping your family from functioning more smoothly during the social distancing and try to get to the root of them. Are you having trouble staying productive with work because of too many loud noises in your area, or are you lacking certain necessities you would otherwise have with you (files, resources, etc.)? Are your kids struggling to focus because they are away from a designated study area, or are they simply bored? Finding out what is at the root of your stressors and addressing these issues will help minimize the overall strain on your family.

Finding Ways to Cope with Social Distancing

After identifying the issues that are causing the biggest stress to the confines of social distancing, you can start making changes to help ease the transition. Find spaces that are quiet and designate them for various tasks throughout the day (homework station during set hours, workstation during other times, etc.), minimize distractions in some spaces (quiet time for homework) and create distractions for other spaces/times (giving kids activities to do to help give you more time for your own work). Essentially, reestablish a new routine to create a bit of order to the otherwise confusing new schedule.

Outside of work and schoolwork, it’s also important to understand the social effects of the new isolation norm we are all experiencing. We are social creatures by nature, and most thrive on a certain level of daily interaction with others. While it’s imperative we abide by the guidelines of the CDC for remaining sheltered for the time being, this does not mean we have to give up being social altogether. Be sure to allow time for interactions like playing games and chatting with friends – just do them all virtually. Kids can play games with friends through your family’s tech devices or keep in touch with other family members and friends via phone calls or video chats.

Staying Active

If you find your children (or even yourself) getting a bit restless or a serious case of cabin fever, it’s likely due to a change in physical activity. Unfortunately, one of the effects of being told to stay home, is that many of us are getting a lot less exercise and physical play time than our bodies are used to – a fact which can lead to a great deal of pent up energy that can come out in all sorts of undesirable ways.

With schools, gyms, and most parks being closed to the public right now, it may be difficult to find ways to stay active, but it’s important to incorporate physical activity into your family’s daily routine. Activities such as hiking and walking are still permitted as long as safety precautions are taken (keeping the recommended distance from others, using your elbow or a tissue if you have to cough or sneeze, etc.). Use the time to explore various hiking trails or try a new workout routine outdoors. Plan a race for your children or try out a homemade obstacle course in your backyard. No outdoor space to conveniently utilize? Try out an online yoga class for children or a fun dance sequence to get them moving and burn off some of the extra energy.

Remain Positive

Above all, the best thing you can do to help your children cope with social distancing is to work to maintain positivity in your household. Remember that we cannot change the current state of things that are forcing us to break from our routines, but we can change the way we react to the new (temporary) reality. Adaptability and education are our biggest friends right now, so stay in the know and try your best to go with the flow. Keep your focus on enjoying the new-found family time and finding creative ways to give your children some out-of-the-box learning and bonding experiences with the whole family.

Family Home Learning Tips: Online Educational Resources for Early Childhood Learning

Family Home Learning Tips: Online Educational Resources for Early Childhood Learning

While everyone is adapting to the current social distancing norm for health and safety, many parents are struggling with how to keep their families occupied and focused on learning while simultaneously juggling adult responsibilities. To say it’s been challenging would be an understatement, but as parents, we are resilient and will find a way to make it work because, well, that’s our job as parents.

If you feel like you’re ready to pull out your hair if you have to juggle being the parent, the teacher (seriously, how do they do it?), and an employee/employer all at the same time for one more day, rest assured, you’re not alone. Parents across the globe are facing the same dynamics right now, and our communities are stepping up to lend a hand everywhere. To help, we’ve compiled a list of some highly educational fun and free activities being offered to families right now that can be done in the comforts of home.

The Indianapolis Children’s Museum

If you’re looking for an all-inclusive online learning experience geared toward children, check out the “Museum at Home” feature of the Indianapolis Children’s Museum website. While being closed due to the COVID-19 social distancing phase, the museum is offering free educational sessions that include exhibit tours, story time, science experiments, sports coaching for physical activity and new daily behind-the-scenes sessions are added as well.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

For some educational animal fun while staying indoors, check out the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s “Home Safari” feature. Every day at 3:00 p.m., the zoo shares a new live video feed of a different animal in their facilities. The videos feature various care takers who speak with online guests, answer questions about the animals, and share insight into how each animal lives. Previous videos are available to view online any time as well.

COSI Connects: Digital Doorway

The Center of Science and Industry (COSI) is offering a “Digital Doorway” program for children which features several online activities, videos, and virtual tours of their facilities. There are informative video clips on topics such as the COVID-19 virus as well as various activities like making chocolate crystals and other at-home science experiments. Children can also take a virtual tour of their dinosaur exhibit and learn about excavation and paleontology studies.

Cosmic Kids Yoga

If you’re dealing with limited space or trying to avoid play dates and the park, but still want to get in some physical activity for your littles, try checking out some online yoga classes geared towards children. Cosmic Yoga is offering a free 2-week trial for new families looking to add a bit of healthy activity to their child’s home quarantine routine.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Met Kids Site

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Met Kids site is uniquely tailored to the interests and mindsets of young children. This site is free to the public and features a map that allows them to explore the museum on their own as well as a “time machine” that can search by various eras for further educational resources.

Art for Kids Hub

If you’re looking for some free online arts and crafts tutorials for kids, check out Art for Kids Hub. This site offers countless videos that teach children different techniques for drawing, painting, and even some sculpting and origami tricks as well.

Do Children Really Need to Attend Preschool?

Do Children Really Need to Attend Preschool?

If your child is nearing the preschool age, you’ve likely had quite a few questions regarding whether or not they’re ready – or even if they need to attend at all. Many parents wonder about the significance of the earliest educational experiences and contemplate the overall value of sending their children to preschool programs. Luckily, this is a topic which has had a great deal of research and studies done providing plenty of information to help answer your questions. So, do children really need to attend preschool?

Early Education Development

The short answer to the question is no, children do not have to attend preschool, however, research has shown that children who do attend early educational programs have a much higher rate of success during their older school years. To put it simply, children who participate in pre-k programs learn invaluable lessons and keystone elements that help them ease into their next-level education experiences.  

“Children who attend preschool are more likely to have long-term educational success, attend post high school education and even have a higher income in their careers,” explains Michigan State University Extension’s Early Childhood Development experts.

Pre-School Benefits

With so much research pointing toward the benefits of attending preschool, it’s no wonder the early educational experience is so highly regarded today – but just what are the benefits of pre-k? According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), some of the most important benefits gained by children during pre-k programs are considered the building blocks for later learning.

While you may think the earliest programs are all about play time (and there certainly is a lot of that involved), your children are learning highly valuable skills that will prepare them for the future. Preschool play and lessons are focused on helping children develop social skills, hone their physical coordination and motor skills, and learn to manage emotions as well as gain listening and communication skills. Even further, children will also gain problem-solving skills and begin to grasp early reading and math comprehension as well as how to work with others to reach a common goal. All of which are lessons that will serve to help them thrive in their later educational years.

How to Know When They’re Ready

Since there are no set standards for when to attend preschool, it’s generally up to parents to determine the best time to send their child. Most programs cater to children aged 3 to 5, though some can begin as early as 2 depending on the area. How long your child attends will also depend on you – 1 to 2 years is the most typical choice today.

In general, your child can be considered ready for preschool programs once they have mastered certain basic skills at home. Most pre-k programs prefer your child be able to use the restroom on their own before entering a class but tend to be fairly open otherwise. If you’re considering sending your child to preschool and feel your child is ready, here is a look at some of the long-term benefits of preschool.

Does Bilingualism Lead to Language and Speech Delays?

Does Bilingualism Lead to Language and Speech Delays?

Chances are, if your child is actively learning a second language at a young age, it’s with high hopes that they will someday become proficient bilinguals. Let’s face it, parents don’t generally enroll children in dual language studies without the desire for them to one day become fluent in multiple languages. Along the path, however, are some key questions and even concerns that should be addressed in order to give a child the best chance at achieving true bilingualism.

Will Bilingualism Cause Speech Delays?

One of the biggest questions parents of young children face when considering a second language for their child early on is – will bilingualism cause speech delays? The concern is a valid one to address since no parent wants to inhibit the learning path of their child by any means.

While many children often display what appears to be speech delays when exposed to dual languages, it’s important to note these pauses are not delays in learning. On the contrary, when a child takes pause to consider which language to use at which time, they are actually beginning to show a mastery of both languages. The “pause” or “delay” is a sign their minds are processing the information and learning not only the language cues, but also, to problem solve and compartmentalize simultaneously.

Does Multiple Language Learning Cause Confusion?

Often times children who are learning a second language may pull words from both languages in regular conversation. This “mix up” may be seen as confusion to some, but it’s actually a sign of high cognitive functionality and impressive progress. Since children are operating on a smaller vocabulary than adults, they often need to rely on tried-and-true words to describe things they don’t yet understand. By pulling other words, they are showing they understand a cross-correlation which will help them to eventually pull together a more complete picture.

“One misunderstood behavior, which is often taken as evidence for confusion, is when bilingual children mix words from two languages in the same sentence. This is known as code mixing. In fact, code mixing is a normal part of bilingual development, and bilingual children actually have good reasons to code mix,” explains the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s National Institutes of Health.

Should You Wait to Introduce a Second Language?

Many parents consider postponing bilingual studies until their child is older and believed to be more equipped to study a second language. The belief with this is that they want their child to master one language first before introducing them to another. While this may sound plausible in theory, in order to have the best chance at fluid bilingualism, most researchers agree it’s actually best to introduce multiple languages as early as possible.

Since our brains are poised best for learning at an early age, it makes sense to introduce more learning possibilities early on. As we age, our minds evolve and begin to adapt to several environmental factors as well as physical determinants that change our ability to learn new topics. In other words, the older we get, the more our minds work against us in our ability to pick up new concepts as easily as we did when we were younger.

So, what does all of this mean? Essentially, if you’re concerned about inhibiting your child’s ability to learn by introducing a second language early on, don’t be. Research shows that the earlier and the more frequently children are exposed to dual languages, the higher their chance becomes of being fluent in both later in life.

The Environmental Advantages of Language Learning in Young Children

The Environmental Advantages of Language Learning in Young Children

As any adult who has ever attempted to learn a new language or skill can tell you, picking things up later in life seems to be much more difficult than it was as a young child. No matter how hard you study or how many times you try to master a new skill, the older we get, the harder it becomes to pick things up. So, do children really learn faster than adults or is there a trick to their ability to grasp language concepts and skills at a more effective and efficient rate?

Language Learning Differences with Age

You may assume that a younger brain is more conditioned to learn, much the same as a younger body is more physically able to compete in triathlons than an older body. While you wouldn’t exactly be wrong, the process of conditioning a brain for learning is much more complex than simply age. It’s true that we do lose brain power as we age – particularly reducing our ability to pick up new items and retain new information – a fact which has a direct result on the rate in which we learn (obviously). It’s not as simple as saying adults learn slower than children because of age, however. Understanding how our minds change as we age is key to grasping why we learn differently at various stages of our lives.

“As a person gets older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain. Certain parts of the brain shrink, especially those important to learning and other complex mental activities. In certain brain regions, communication between neurons (nerve cells) can be reduced… These changes in the brain can affect mental function, even in healthy older people,” explains the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

While our brains undergo degeneration and deterioration naturally over the years, this still does not account for a complete picture on learning differences over the ages. In other words, yes, aging minds are physically less capable of learning as younger minds, but not to the extent that thoroughly explains why children are able to pick up learning new languages and subjects so much faster.

Unconscious Learning Vs Conscious Learning

Outside of the physical difference of young minds versus older minds, there is another piece of the puzzle that helps to explain how children learn so much faster than adults: unconscious learning versus conscious learning. In the simplest definition, unconscious learning is that which takes place without even trying. Think of it as picking up a favorite line or phrase from a movie you’ve seen a few times – you didn’t intend to learn it, you just picked it up and remembered it while watching in enjoyment. Conscious learning then, is the opposite. It’s the intentional act of trying to learn a new task or subject. This form of learning is like trying to study for a test or memorize new policies or manuals for work.

So, how does this translate to language learning as children versus as adults? It’s really quite simple; young children tend to learn unconsciously while adolescents and adults lean more on conscious learning habits. Young children do not focus on studying specific grammar books, diagrams, or memorization – in fact, they don’t focus on learning at all. Instead, young children inadvertently pick up information like a sponge by simply absorbing what they see around them. Adults, on the other hand, spend hours poring over learning techniques and specifics, trying to memorize new information and, subsequently, absorb less information in the process.

Environmental Advantages of Language Learning

“(Children) are literally built to absorb information; they do this in an unconscious state of mind, like they’re learning, and they don’t even know it. Adults and older children, on the other hand, have to consciously learn the information which makes it harder because when we learn that way, information sometimes gets lost or disassociated,” explains the Instructor Blog for Penn State’s SC200 Course.

In addition to picking up learning cues unconsciously, the environments in which children learn are more conducive to information absorption as well. As children, we are encouraged and praised for the very concept of learning despite not picking up proper grammar cues or techniques. Children are met with smiles, accolades and support when they are able to communicate the basics of a new concept or language because they are not expected to learn all of the details all at once. This allows them to grow by picking up specifics a little at a time without fear of failure or sounding unintelligent if they don’t get something 100% correct.

On the flip side, older children and adults are often faced with (sometimes paralyzing) fear over sounding like anything less than a native speaker on their topic of study. In other words, adults have a fear of failing or making mistakes and being criticized for said mistakes which can (and does) inhibit the ability to fully absorb and learn through their environments.

Immersion and Bilingualism

Closely linked to the environmental advantages to learning – particularly with language learning – is the difference of learning through immersion. Immersion is the act of learning by being fully immersed in the topic of study for at least 50 percent of the time. In terms of bilingualism, it means learning by being in an environment which speaks the language being learned for at least half of your time awake each day. This is something which has benefits for both adults and young children, but again, there are differences in the rate at which each pick up the immersion learning cues.

While immersion is a highly productive method of learning, adults and children still pick things up at different rates. Referring back to the previous differences, despite being immersed in language learning, adults are still prone to cognitive degeneration inhibiting their ability to learn as well as holding on to the same fear of mistakes. It all boils down to a combination of both physical deterrents as well as environmental inhibitors that present as learning obstacles with age. It is the overall healthier cognitive functionality in combination with more favorable environmental stimulants (among other, more unique, criteria) that ultimately gives children the advantage when it comes to learning new languages and other topics more quickly than their older selves are capable of pulling off years later.

How to Continue Your Child’s Bilingual Learning at Home

How to Continue Your Child’s Bilingual Learning at Home

When it comes to language learning, many parents often wonder how they can help their children become more proficient in their comprehension. In many cases, students will often struggle to pick up new language cues and improve fluidity of bilingualism if their studies don’t extend beyond the classroom. In fact, in order to obtain true bilingual capabilities, children require an immense amount of exposure to the languages – exposure that extends well beyond the classroom. So how can you help your child continue bilingual learning at home?

Bilingual Learning at Home

It’s well-known that pediatricians and early education professionals have long supported the relationship between reading and communication with language skills in young children. Parents are encouraged to both read to their children and interact with them directly as much as possible in order to expand their child’s language understanding. The same is true for learning a second language.

The key to expanding a child’s understanding of bilingualism is exposure – lots of exposure – to both the native and second language. Since language learning does not stop once your child leaves their classroom, parents should be continuing the learning at home by incorporating the second language as frequently as possible in the home life. This can be done by reading books, playing games, following recipes native to that language, or even just simply in regular conversations with their children.

Hands-on Learning, Not Screen-Time Learning

It’s important to understand there is a major distinction between direct bilingual exposure at home and that picked up by screen time. While certain online activities can help boost a child’s basic understanding of language, true fluidity is only possible by frequent submersion in the language itself. In other words, talk with your children in meaningful, bilingual conversations, or read to them directly to give them the most proficient means of immersion.  

“In order to foster language development, the exposure has to be person-to-person; screen-time doesn’t count for learning language in young children – even one language – though kids can learn content and vocabulary from educational screen-time later on,” explains the NY Times in report of pediatrician recommendations on bilingual language learning at home.

Plenty of Language Exposure and Patience

With language learning, the best thing parents can do for their child’s learning process is to continue the language education at home by increasing their child’s exposure to the linguistics. There are virtually unlimited ways in which parents can do this, as mentioned above, but also, home submersion isn’t the only aspect to keep in mind when helping children grasp bilingualism.

No matter the age, bilingual individuals will always have a tendency to combine, or mix-up, their languages from time to time and children are no exception. Parents need to keep in mind that their child will need plenty of patience during the bilingual learning process, as well as the ability to not get discouraged when languages get mixed. This is normal and all a part of the learning process. In fact, experts say that language “mix-ups” are actually a sign of a deeper understanding of bilingualism and considered a sign that individuals are truly grasping the second language when this happens.

Above all, parents who want to help their child expand their bilingual learning at home need to take an active role in helping them do so. Frequent and fluent language interactions in both languages will help continue the submersion outside of the classroom while patience and encouragement during the learning process will help them gain the confidence they need to continue their learning even further.

Bilingual Learning Experiences for the Holidays

Bilingual Learning Experiences for the Holidays

Holidays may bring extended breaks from school, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a fantastic time to offer your children some unique learning experiences. In fact, the holidays are rich with opportunities for kids to broaden their knowledge on cultural and communicative topics, if parents provide them with the tools to learn. Let’s take a look at some of the fun and innovative ways children can expand their bilingual learning experiences at home during their holiday breaks from school.

Holiday Bilingual Learning Experiences

The fact is, children master the art of becoming bilingual much easier through immersion learning – or being all-encompassed in dual languages both in school and out. It goes without saying then that parents who make a point to incorporate language learning at home give their children a more thorough understanding of second languages and the greatest chance at being truly fluent in both as they grow.

So how do you go about incorporating a second language in learning experiences at home – especially over the holidays or extended times away from school? One of the easiest ways is by adding various cultural experiences to your family holiday repertoire in order to let your child see first-hand how other cultures celebrate the season.

Ways to Incorporate Cultural Learning Over the Holidays

There are virtually unlimited ways in which parents can add cultural learning experiences for their children over the holidays, so it’s really up to you which angle you choose to take. You don’t need to plan a trip to a foreign country in order to give your child a bit of immersion learning over break. There are things as simple as baking cookies from various cultures to acting out traditional activities practiced around the world – all of which will give your child an invaluable cultural experience and a better understanding of how others celebrate during this time.

If your child is enrolled in foreign language learning in school, that is a great place to start when considering cultural holiday learning activities. To expand on their learning, take a look at the traditions and practices of the language they are studying in school and plan some activities at home that will expand their understanding while they’re home on break.

Depending upon the culture, you could add a holiday baking day that allows your children to experience the various sweets enjoyed by their language of study. You could also prepare a holiday dinner together using the traditional foods and preparation of that culture. If food isn’t your thing, try looking into other traditions of the culture such as candle lighting ceremonies, parades, or even things like hiding brooms or placing shoes by a window – each culture has their own celebratory methods that are sure to enhance your child’s learning experience.

Keep the Learning Growing at Home

There are so many festivities and traditions celebrated by different cultures each year during the holiday season. Being on winter break from school doesn’t have to mean a break from learning – bring some culture and immersion learning into your child’s routine by trying new experiences and adventures related to their language learning. Do a little search to find out area festivals or activities you may have nearby or get ideas on how you can add fun learning tricks at home!

Role-Playing 101: Why Children Learn Faster with Interactive Activities

Role-Playing 101: Why Children Learn Faster with Interactive Activities

One of the key staples of childhood learning and play is acting out different scenarios through a variety of means. We’re talking, of course, about role-playing activities. These activities usually involve your child imagining themselves in various situations in which they play out pretend dialogues either on their own or with others. Some common role-playing scenarios can include pretending to be a mom or dad to “play house,” super hero or emergency personnel play (think police officers versus “bad guys” or firemen saving a home), and even situations like pretending to be a teacher or grocery store clerk.

Witnessing these instances, many parents assume their child is simply participating in imagination play and don’t give much stock to its importance. The truth is, however, these role-playing scenarios are an immensely important part of a child’s learning process and can be a fantastic teaching tool for parents and educational professionals looking for ways to bring about a deep understanding about different concepts and lessons. The benefits of role play learning are an invaluable part of the learning process that stay with children throughout their lives.

“Role play moves a step beyond the dialogue and places students in a situation in which they are called upon to cope with the unexpected or with a new setting using the material they have learned through dialogs and other classroom activities,” explains South Carolina’s Department of Education.

Role-Playing 101

Role-playing is a multi-faceted teaching and playing activity that allows children to grow and learn through imaginative scenarios. Since these activities place children in interactive situations requiring them to work out solutions and reactions on their own in order to play out the role, this type of play often brings about a deeper understanding on topic of play. Essentially, role-playing combines teaching techniques which allows children to grasp a concept much more thoroughly than traditional teaching means.

It’s no surprise that children learn from experience, no matter their age, so by allowing them to act out various experiences on their own, we’re essentially arming them with unlimited learning opportunities. Since the sky’s the limit with role play, there are an infinite number of potential teaching and learning experiences for children every single day if we know how to harness and encourage the techniques.

Including role-playing activities in a classroom daily – whether structured or unstructured – will only serve to boost the learning potential of students by getting them to actively participate in their education without even realizing it. In fact, the skills that children pick up from these role-playing scenarios are invaluable tools that will stick with them throughout their lives, arming them with the tools they’ll need to work through practically every situation they face in their adult lives years later. Role-playing is so much more than simply pretending to be another person; it gives children the chance to try on new roles and work their way through different challenges.

The Benefits of Role Play Learning

When children put on different costumes and act out scenes during play time, they’re doing so much more than simply playing dress-up. Role-playing allows kids to try on different hats – both figuratively and literally – and imagine what it’s like to be in that role. This is a key teaching tool because it puts children in the driver’s seat of learning by cognitively processing what they believe would happen in each situation. To put it simply, role play allows children to gain a better understanding of any given scenario because it gives them the opportunity to see things from a new perspective and to use their minds to work through them.

This opportunity is one that is brimming with new connections and gaining a deeper knowledge of those around them. Some of the greatest benefits of role-playing are centered around the social and emotional growth that stems from the empathy children gain by putting themselves in someone else’s shoes and learning to cope with different struggles and obstacles that arise in that experience. This kind of play allows children to explore different sides of real-life situations, which in turn gives them a greater knowledge on how their actions affect others around them. Some of the most important benefits gained by role-playing include:

  • Developing empathy towards others by experiencing new perspectives
  • Increased problem-solving skills
  • Improved self-expression through communication
  • Learning to work better with others
  • Gaining better social and emotional skills

Invaluable Experiences with Role-Playing

Since role-playing experiences feel more like playing than a more rigid lesson plan session, children tend to gravitate toward these activities without even realizing they are learning in the process. This is a part of what makes role-playing so invaluable. Another part of its interactive genius is that it allows children to gain a better perspective on who they are and who they may want to be when they are adults. Role-playing is often the best way for children to discover what they truly enjoy and to explore different avenues of interest in a way that lets them try out new roles.

Something as simple as putting on a police hat or a white lab coat can allow children to experiment with various careers and areas of interest. By pretending to be a police officer, children can use their imaginations to harness a desire to help others or be the protector. Putting on a stethoscope and grabbing a toy medical bag can allow children the opportunity to explore what it’s like to take care of those around them. Virtually every scenario is ripe with the chance for children to see what kind of interactions they are drawn to the most – something which will come into play quite a bit in the years to come.

While trying on various outfits and acting out different careers and roles can help children develop crucial social and emotional skills as well as allowing them to gain a better understanding of their own interests, the most important part of role play learning is something much simpler. By giving them the opportunity to act out a variety of situations, role-playing teaches children they can be anything they choose. It allows them to envision themselves in a multitude of situations, giving them the confidence and foundation for realizing their true potential in the coming years.

What to do When Your Child Is Being Bullied

What to do When Your Child Is Being Bullied

With the majority of schools today participating in at least some form of anti-bullying policies, most parents have been made aware of the movement to stomp out the aggressive behavior. While we may be more actively approaching bully behavior today, many may still be uncertain of what to do when your child is being bullied.

Classic Bullying Behavior

When we think of classic bullying behavior, we usually envision things like stolen lunch money or toys, bruises or other signs of fighting, or clothing being ripped or destroyed. These things are considered aggressive bullying and usually fairly easy to spot. Unfortunately, bullying goes unnoticed often times because it rarely fits into this category.

Less Obvious Bullying Behavior

Bullying is usually thought of as mean-spirited behavior that is manifested through physical and verbal means. The truth is, however, bullying behavior can take on many different forms – it isn’t always taunting, teasing, or physically fighting.

While it’s certainly true that scenarios involving pushing, picking, yelling, and teasing are examples of classic bully behavior, there are other, less obvious forms of bullying as well. Often times, kids can experience the effects of bullying by way of being ignored by their peers, being left out of games and functions, and even things like whispering, and note passing.

“More often than not… bullying is difficult to spot. Most kids don’t come home from school saying, ‘I’m being bullied every day by these three kids and I’m really scared and unhappy,’” explains PBS.org.

Are There Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied?

Knowing that the signs of bullying aren’t always easy to identify, one of the best things a parent can do to help their child is to know what behavior warrants anti-bullying tactics. This may seem easier said than done, but by understanding warning signs in your child, you can help stop bullying in its tracks.

So, just what are these warning signs? Similar to the signs of bullying, there are more obvious signs your child is being bullied, as well as less obvious signs. Paying attention to your child’s behavior versus what they are verbally communicating is key to getting through a rough time.

Most Obvious Signs

The most obvious signs a child is dealing with a bully at school (or on the bus, playground, or even neighborhood after hours) are usually physical signs. Aggressive bullying is often the culprit of these type of signs and can include things like a disheveled appearance when they should otherwise be presentable, physical scars and bruises or bleeding, and complaints of aches and pains with no rational explanation for them.

Since kids don’t usually tell you when they’ve had an altercation with another child, it’s usually up to the parents to pay attention to their physical appearance. This can also include their attitude – a sudden change in attitude that involves crankiness or irritability can often point toward a bullying scenario as well.

Less Obvious Signs

If your child isn’t coming home with bruises or torn clothing, but you still feel like something is “off” with them, don’t discount bullying yet. As we mentioned earlier, there are many forms bullying can take and, as such, there are many forms their reactions can take.

Some of the less obvious signs your child is dealing with a bully can include being withdrawn, a loss of interest in things they previously loved to do, and seeming sad or depressed upon coming home. Other signs to watch out for include a change in their appetite – usually a loss of interest in eating altogether, trouble sleeping (night terrors and bad dreams included), and frequent ailments like headaches or stomach aches.

Major Red Flags

There are a wide range of signs and symptoms of bullying – all of which need addressed as soon as possible – but some may require much more immediate attention. Depending upon the individual situation, children will handle a bullying experience in their own way; however, certain behaviors should always be taken seriously as soon as they surface.

If your child’s school performance begins to change – this is a huge red flag that something is off with them, usually relating to a person or situation at school. Other major red flags that should be addressed immediately include visible signs of fear or panic when they are faced with a task (anxiety over riding the bus or fear for going to class, for example), or any form of discussion involving loss of life or suicide. Noticing any of these behaviors warrants direct and swift attention by parents and teachers.

What to do When Your Child Is Being Bullied

If you’ve noticed your child experiencing any of the above-mentioned signs of being bullied, you’re likely wondering what you can do to help them put a stop to the situation. For a parent, watching their child go through a bullying situation can be one of the most heartbreaking and difficult things to witness. Often times parents wind up feeling helpless or can end up taking steps that may make things worse for their child by accident. So how do you know what to do?

In many cases, schools and other childhood educational and care facilities will have their own form of anti-bullying policies already in place. A look through their school handbook or a discussion with their direct-care professionals can help lead you on the right path for helping your child. Outside of this, there are certain things parents can do to ensure they are taking the right steps to combat their child’s bullying experience.

Anti-Bullying Behavior at Home

There are several things parents can do at home, outside of an anti-bullying policy at school, that will help children get through being bullied. For starters, the most important thing is for parents to be vigilant about monitoring their children’s behaviors so they can quickly spot any of the signs of bullying.

Other steps parents can take to be proactive about bullying:

  • Talk to your child: ask them how things are going, share with them what you’ve noticed and gauge their response.
  • Ask, don’t assume: we may be tempted to ask them what they did to warrant a certain behavior, this can lead them to believe the bullying is warranted.
  • Talk with others in their lives: speak with others who are near your child during the bullying situations and have them help determine a “safe” person they can go to when they feel bullied.

Overall, the best thing you can do for your child if you suspect they are the victim of bullying, is to be their ally. Know what to watch for, make sure you reiterate with them that you are always there, and equip them with the tools to overcome the situation by giving them a safe space or a safe person to go to when needed.