Friday, April 5, 2013

Spring (or something) is in the Air!

Welcome back from Spring Break!  I hope your time was productive, enjoyable, and most importantly, relaxing.  While it may not feel like Spring in Wisconsin quite yet, the kids are definitely rejuvenated.  With two months of school left, it will be extremely important to direct their newfound energy toward school.  The increase in daylight and temperature often leads to restlessness and distraction, and I'm not just talking about myself!  

I have noticed a marked increase in self-selected reading.  And I'm not the only one.  Mrs. Eppelsheimer has commented on the amount of traffic in the Middle School Library.  She feels that she has rarely seen more sixth graders reading and looking for books.  We couldn't be more pleased.  In fact, one student remarked how she found herself frequently buried in her book during Spring Break.  No, she wasn't stuck here in Wisconsin - she was in Hawaii!  I encourage you to continue to support your children as they read for pleasure.  Even with the improving weather, time should be set aside for reading.  This should be a no strings attached activity, done with regular frequency.  Maybe you could curl up with your own book in the same room as your child.  Reading together and having conversations about your books is time well spent.  It is a great opportunity to set an example and to cut back on some screen time.  

What about writing?  How can you encourage your child to write without pushing her away?  The National Council of Teachers of English offers a few suggestions.  As with reading, letting your child see you write is powerful.  She will see writing as something that is not just done for school, and it will take on more relevancy.  How about sharing a letter or an email that you are drafting and asking your child for advice?  This could inspire a thoughtful conversation about your personal process for writing as well as reinforce that you respect your child's opinion.  Often, I am asked how parents can help with their child's writing.  The NCTE recommends taking on the role of helper.  Ask him what he wants to say, and help him put words to his ideas.  If she wants specific assistance, provide it, but be careful.  Refrain from criticizing her writing.  This could increase her resistance to sharing her work with you in the future.  By taking on the role of coach and captive audience, you are far more likely to gain your young author's trust.  Like reading, set aside regular time for writing beyond the classroom.  Encourage your child to keep travel logs, journals, or writer's notebooks and maybe even start one yourself!

There is no doubt that having recess, playing sports, and enjoying the outdoors is good for the physical and emotional health of all children.  With the weather beckoning everyone outdoors, reading and writing are often relegated to the bottom of our priorities.  Don't forget to make time for yourselves and your children to enjoy a good book or to write a letter to a loved one.  It's a great way to wind down a long day and a perfect opportunity to 'power down.'

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