Getting Ready for Preschool

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We’re getting ready for preschool in our house! Jake, my three year old son is excited, to say the least, to start this new adventure. Now, this might and probably will change on the first day of drop off. I can already feel the death grip that he’ll have on me as I pry him off of me and hand him over to his teacher. But we’ll go with the excitement for now. What I love about Jake is that everyday is an exciting adventure for him. I was just saying to my husband how much joy I get out of seeing how he treats every new experience with incredible enthusiasm and energy. Not only that, he’s just ready to be a “Big Boy!”, and this mama needs a break!

 
I have to say, the preschool thing has been on my mind for quite a while now. You see, learning differences run in our family and I’ve always been aware of how important early intervention and building a solid foundation is for children. Maybe because I work in the industry or maybe because I’m an anxious mom. Who knows? Either way, in my mind it was a given that Jake would attend an educational-based preschool. This has been so important to me because I work with children of all different learning styles and difficulties. I recognize the importance of building a strong foundation and how confidence is half the battle when starting something new. I had made up my mind what kind of preschool I wanted him to go to but I needed to look at my options and gain a little more perspective.

 
Option number one was already taken care of. Little House runs a preschool/kindergarten readiness program that he would attend twice a week called the Little Learners Program. Now, I may be biased but I was part of designing it and I know it works! It’s a program that is structured, multi-sensory and phonetic based which focusses on building foundational skills like literacy, numeracy, printing, social skills and classroom routines. You can find out more about it here.

 
It was important to me that he attended this program at Little House but I also didn’t want it to be his only preschool experience. Especially because I felt he needed to have some time away from family and he’d be seeing his aunties and Nana daily at Little House. He also walks around like he owns the place! But what were my other options? Like most mom’s I started the research.

 
It’s easy to get overwhelmed so here are five of the most common preschool philosophies.

 
1. The Traditional Approach

Classroom time is devoted to building essential skills in children, including color identification, measuring time, problem-solving and other basic writing, reading and math skills.

2. Montessori

In a Montessori Preschool, children are learning the same concepts as their peers in a traditional classroom, but the idea is for children to learn individually and have the freedom to move around the room and choose from a wide range of hands-on activities that are designed to teach specific skills. This is the second method I chose for Jake as he’s a busy, active kid and I liked the idea of him being able to learn concepts and skills while moving around. He’ll also be getting lots of structure from the Little Learners Program.

3. Emergent/Play Based

This approach focuses on the process of learning. With both structured and unstructured periods, children are able to learn at their own rate. It’s believed that there is no right or wrong way to do something, allowing children to be confident and take risks.

4. Regio Emelia

This approach is modelled after methods used by communities to help children become better citizens. Preschools that follow the Reggio Emilia style believe that children learn by using different channels to express their thoughts and feelings, such as drama, art, language and music. Educators, parents, communities and students all work together as co-constructors of knowledge.

5. Waldorf

This approach is aimed to teach children how to think rather than what to think. It’s believed that children have a natural curiosity and appetite for learning, and should be encouraged to learn within an environment that stimulates all five senses.

 

Every method has pros and cons but my decision has been to send Jake to our education based preschool program at Little House twice a week and he’ll be attending a Montessori preschool twice a week as well.

 
So as the summer comes to an end, And I look back and think of all the snuggle time we had and fun times jumping on the trampoline, going to water parks, and working on crafts I realize it is time to let go and let Jake start his preschool journey. I’m excited to see him venture off into an exciting new stage in his life. This is his time to be independent and flourish and I can’t wait to cheer him on along the way.

-Breanne Morissette

When two vowels go walking…

When two vowels go walking …

It is more than a little helpful to have a handy set of flash cards ready to prompt younger learners and give them reading cues. When learning about “vowel pairs”, for example, cue cards like these are colourful and attractive:

As the time-honoured reading prompt goes: “When two vowels go walking, the first does the talking …” Then, feeling smug with your handy flash cards, you help the child out with the picture provided: “oa” makes “coat.”

To my surprise, the most effective set of flash cards that I have used with my Gr. 1 student is one that she created herself. When I uttered the phrase “when two vowels go walking …” she immediately drew some minuscule legs on a couple of little vowels:

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Note that the first attempt had a minor error: the order of the vowels. I urged her to reconsider: the first does the talking. She re-arranged accordingly and proceeded to create different vowel pairs “meeting” each other. The following results were stupendous:

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The student rapidly became familiar with which vowels formed which pairs. The truth is, the effectiveness of these homemade flash cards should not have come as a surprise to me. Involving the child in the learning process is essential to developing their ability to retain the concepts and apply them.

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-Miriam

Spring at Little House

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Spring has officially sprung here at Little House, and we are celebrating the changing of the seasons with a new writing contest! This new contest will not only challenge our students’ imaginations but also their poetry skills. In order to be in the running for the mystery prize, the students must write an acrostic poem centered around spring time.

Acrostics are a fun poetic form that anyone can write by following just a few simple guidelines. To begin, an acrostic poem is a poem in which the first letters of each line spell out a word or phrase. For our acrostic, we will be spelling out the word “SPRING”. Usually, the first letter of each line is capitalized, as this makes it easier to see the word spelled vertically down the page. The nice thing about acrostic poems is that they don’t need to rhyme, and they don’t have to follow a specific rhythm.

Students are encouraged to participate in the contest by brainstorming about what they think of when they think of spring, and creating a descriptive acrostic poem!

-Paige

Little House Introduces Multi-Sensory Tutoring for French

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Little House offers multi-sensory tutoring for students in French Immersion and students who are starting to learn French as a second language.

Little House provides multi-sensory training for phonics in French, inspired by the Orton-Gillingham and the Borel-Maisonny phonetic and gestural methodology. In addition to the visual and auditory memory, each sound is associated with a specific gesture that will help memorization, but also act as a link between the sound and its graphic representation.

Learning two languages can be very challenging. Our private or group tutoring classes will ensure success and confidence.

Fractions: Numerators and Denominators

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Fractions: Numerators and Denominators
When students are first learning fractions, it can be tricky for them to remember the difference between the numerator and the denominator. I start by explaining that a fraction is a part of a whole- like a piece of a pie. Each fraction has two parts: the top number and the bottom number. The bottom number represents how many pieces the pie was cut in to, and the top number represents how many of those pieces of pie are left. I like to have my student write a fraction, and then draw that fraction as a piece or pieces of pie to incorporate multi-sensory learning.
Once they understand this concept, I use a pneumonic device and a drawing to help them remember that the top number is called the numerator, and the bottom number is called the denominator. I tell them, “the numerator is number one, and the denominator is downstairs!”
–Anne

Syllables

Syllables

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Learning how to count syllables and break down words can be a helpful tool for students who have a basic understanding of how to read sight words and shorter, more simple vocabulary, but who are ready to make the jump into reading and writing more complex words. Breaking down longer words like “extravagant” can be useful when taught in bunches. Ex-tra-va-gant can be taught in sync with words with the same suffix, like “brill-i-ant”, “im-por-tant”, and “dis-tant”. Setting these up on a page so that a student can join the first part of the word with its suffix helps to solidify the practice of breaking up words into more manageable parts.

 

-Kimberley

Valentine’s Day Origins

Valentine’s Day Origins

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Millions of people around the world celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th, but few know the origins of its significance. Valentine’s Day, in our part of the world, is largely celebrated as a romantic holiday shared with a significant other or a partner, as a time to commemorate love for each other, although there are many exceptions to this generality. Many know of Valentine Day’s relations to Pagan, Roman, and Christian traditions, but the origins of the holiday itself has a rather muddled story, even among 3rd century historians.

As there are many hypothesises as to where Valentine’s Day originated from, the most well-known among the general public is centred around Saint Valentine, who saw injustice in a law that prohibited soldiers from marrying their partners. Valentine thought that this law was unjust and spoke out against it, resulting in the projection of his actions as a romantic gesture of passion.

This is merely one of the stories that is known and rarely told, but many others are not verbalized—I suggest you to examine and question the origins of other holidays that you celebrate, and to think analytically about why it is that you celebrate them—perhaps as an additional homework assignment to stretch your investigative brain muscles!

-Kimberley

References

History.com Staff. (2009). History of Valentine’s Day. A + E Networks.

http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day

 

Siepel, A. (2011). The Dark Origins of Valentine’s Day. NPR.

http://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133693152/the-dark-origins-of-valentines-day

 

Brunner, B. (2004). Valentine’s Day History. InfoPlease.

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/valentinesdayhistory.html

Homophones < Tic Tac Toe

Homophones < Tic Tac Toe

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When my younger students have a hard time staying motivated with their Language Arts learning, I play Tic Tac Toe with them. When learning feels like playing games, students are more likely to stay engaged. For example, we recently read a book that taught us about homophones. Homophones are words that sound the same, but have different origins and meanings, such as root and route, tail and tale, and see and sea. I line a piece of paper with a tic tac toe board, fill in the squares with different homophone words, and ask the student to read each word, explain its meaning, and name its homophone and its respective meaning. We use different colours and alternate crossing out words, until one of us wins by creating a row or column. In addition, I slip this sheet into a plastic folder so I can re-use it again—repetition from the book reading, tic tac toe, and review help with comprehension!

 

-Kimberley

Basic Persuasion Paragraph

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Basic Persuasion Paragraph
Persuasive writing is an important skill for students to develop. It teaches them to form an opinion about a topic and come up with reasons to support their position. The goal of this type of writing is to convince someone to believe something or take action.
To begin, ask your student to brainstorm a list of topics/issues they care about. A few ideas to start with are: a favourite sport, recycling, or why you should travel. Once they have selected a topic, ask them to take a position. What do they want to argue in this paragraph? An argument can be as simple as “people should recycle more”, or you can work with your student to develop more complex arguments.
Then ask them to think about the audience they are writing for. What reasons are most likely to convince their readers? What examples will persuade them?
Creating a paragraph outline is a good way for your student to organize their ideas before writing. An example of a persuasion paragraph outline is included below. Work with your students to develop strong arguments, reasons and examples. With practice, they will become confident writers!
-Anne

Bingo Multiplications!

Bingo Multiplications!

Learning your multiplication table can be one of the most tedious things to do growing up. Especially at a young age when the concept of quantity is not yet cemented to the concept of numbers. It can be hard to understand that you are taking seven of one thing and multiplying it by eight of another thing and somehow getting 56 things in total! I remember as a kid I didn’t really care what these numbers meant, and I couldn’t understand why I had to memorize them instead of playing outside. I can see a similar resistance to such a monotonous task with the kids I tutor, so I brought in Multiplications Bingo. This task is an effective way of combining memorizing timetables with fun and a little friendly competition.

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My current bingo board is five squares by eight, with one row of free squares in the center. The dimensions are adaptable to the competence level of the child, starting off with less squares and then working up to more. There is written in each square a product of a multiplication, varying between the one timetables to the twelve timetables. I read off a multiplication within the range and the student will look for the answer on the board. Not all multiplication questions have their answer on the board and there are some answers written down in more than one square. We vary what the student needs to win depending on the amount of time we are allocating to the game; sometimes we play for just four or five in a line, whereas other times we play for more exciting shapes such as a big plus sign or X. I change up my board so the numbers do not get repetitive and sequence the order of questions at random.

“Whenever I add a game element to my lessons I am always excited with the response I get. Learning can be fun and it’s important to remember that small added entertainment can go a long way.”

 

-Nicole Bailey