Nov 20

All-day kindergarten in Canada

In February of this year, British Columbia’s education minister Shirley Bond announced that her ministry would investigate the cost and feasibility of offering all-day kindergarten.  At this moment in B.C., all-day kindergarten is only available for aboriginal, ESL and special-needs children. The plan would mean that full day kindergarten would be available to all five-year-olds by September 2009 and they have plans to extend that to four- and three-year-olds by 2010 and 2012 respectively.

The current economic downturn is now threatening that plan (source). The plan would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars, so they are now studying how and when they can best implement these changes. There are lots of advantages and disadvantages when it comes to all-day kindergarten.

Advantages:

Besides the practical advantages like less transportation hassle (no school buses to children from school to daycare), full-day programs provide a relaxed, unhurried school day with more time for a variety of experiences, for screening and assessment opportunities, and for more interaction between adults and students.

Disadvantages:

A lot of people however think half a day is enough. It offers ample time in school and allows more time for the young child to play and interact with adults and other children in less-structured home or child care settings. Half a day provides continuity and systematic experience with less probability of stress. Also, full day kindergarten require additional teaching staff and aides to maintain an acceptable child-adult ratio. Another thing is that all day kindergarten is considered to be too academic, concentrating on basic skills before children are ready. I can also imagine that practically one half-day of an all-day program may become merely child care.

Of course the decision to put a child into a half-day or full-day kindergarten program lies with the parents, and it all depends on the child itself. What do you think is best?

Oct 31

Obama and McCain on education

Coming Tuesday is election day in the US, I don’t think anyone failed to notice that.  Both Obama and McCain are mainly focussing on the financial crisis and the war in Iraq. These are also what most voters claim to be the most important issues facing the US at the moment. With the campaigns hardening, it is quite possible to miss out on what the election candidates stand for when it comes to (K-12) education.

I found it hard to find out exactly what the main differences are between the two. But when it comes to K-12 education policies like school choice and funding, there are fundamental differences. McCain is much more supportive of school choice and local control than Obama, and Obama supports a much larger increase in federal education spending.  Obama supports an 18 billion dollar increase in federal education spending, with 10 billion of that increase devoted to an expanded federal effort in early education and preschool.

what do you find more important? More money for early education or freedom of school choice? Or both?

Oct 15

Halloween and autumn ideas

It’s that time of year, autumn is here again: The leaves come falling down and Halloween is also around the corner! This is just a short reminder that our autumn and Halloween pages are filled with fun stuff to do during this time of year.

halloween

So if you want lesson suggestions or just some general activities on the autumn and halloween themes, check out these pages:

The halloween crafts page is loaded with creative ideas to make your own cauldrons, bats, witches and more.

The halloween worksheets page is filled with flashcards, halloween memory games and more worksheets on the halloween theme.

The autumn crafts page features ideas to make leaves, mushrooms, spiders and umbrellas.

The autumn worksheets page is loaded with flashcards, games with leaves, templates and more.

Have fun!

Oct 05

Preschool learning activities

It is important for those who work with preschoolers to choose a preschool learning activity carefully. Teaching preschoolers is a rewarding experience and young children are like pliable putty in their preschool teacher’s hands. Those who teach children, especially preschoolers, experience one of the finest joys that life has to offer. If you have ever watched a young child’s eyes widen in amazement as they see a new creature emerge before their sight – as with a science-based preschool learning activity, then you understand the true rewards of teaching children.

Choosing the best preschool learning activity for young children will enhance their skills, prepare them for kindergarten, and help them develop important emergent skills. Some skills that are critical to early childhood development include:

  • Language Arts/ Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies/ Character Building
  • Physical Education/Health

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 04

Games to learn ESL

One of the challenges in teaching English as a second language (ESL) is to make learning as effortless as feasible. By making learning simple and fun, the instructor can make sure that the material imparted is received, understood and retained. Language is all about meaning and context. The best way for students to find meaning and context in what they are learning is in the event that they experience it.

Is it feasible then to teach the English language by allowing the participants to experience it? Yes it is feasible, through games. According to Lee Su Kim, author of Creative Games for Learning Class, using games in the classroom help students to maintain the work of learning. More to the point, it fosters interaction. What is language but a method to communicate? Through these fun activities, instructors will be able to promote the practice of English.

Real-learning is when even outside the learning place, the student will still be able to apply the subject material. Instructors must understand that the more relaxed the learning surroundings is, the less anxious the scholars will be. Hence, the simpler the scholars will be able to assimilate what is being taught. However, the use of games in ESL instruction requires cautious planning, design and execution.

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 02

Computer games and childrens’ math skills

Can playing computer games improve childrens’ math skills? Researchers in Scotland (link) found out that playing Nintendo DS‘s Brain Trainer significantly improved the students’ test scores.

Students aged nine and ten completed math tests before the nine week project, and then again afterwards.  All the childrens’ scores were higher, but those using the trainer improved by 50 per cent more than those who did not.

They also noticed when the pupils started the day with a twenty minute problem solving session of the game, that they had and increased attention span during the day.

According to LTS’s (Learning and Teaching Scotland ) national advisor for emerging technologies and learning,  “It shows teachers needn’t be afraid to use technology in the classroom”.

Well I’m not afraid  to use technology in the classroom, but I wouldn’t just let the students play games in school.  As one person commented in an earlier post on this site: “I believe children need to explore and develop fine motor skills and get exercise running around outside. I think a lot of other skills may suffer (Like social skills)”. I completely agree! 

Sep 18

Autumn photo flashcards

There are new autumn flashcards available for download on the autumn worksheets page. The flashcards are made with real photos. Have fun!

autumn flashcards

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