Parent-Child Advice

Proficiency-Based Learning

In practice, proficiency-based learning can take a wide variety of forms–there’s no universal approach! The following principles of proficiency-based learning describe the common features found in the most effective proficiency-based systems, and can therefore help teachers and schools learn how to best understand and utilize this method.  All learning expectations must be clearly and consistently communicated to students and families. This includes long-term expectations like graduation requirements and standards, short-term expectations like learning objectives for…

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Challenging Self-Doubt

According to social scientists, a mindset based on self-doubt leads to two common coping mechanisms among children and young adults. The first is called “self-handicapping,” which is when students underperform as a way to shield themselves from the psychic consequence of working hard yet doing poorly. The other is “subjective overachievement,” which is taking heroic measures to guarantee a successful outcome, and attributing that success solely to effort. The overachieving variant of self-doubt is common…

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Promoting Gender Equality in the Classroom

As young children begin to take notice of gender equality and the differences in social expectations for gender roles, the ways in which their teachers interact with them become more weighted. These interactions also create long-lasting effects in other areas of their lives, at times limiting their self-image and their perception of the opportunities that are available or appropriate for them. This trend is especially apparent in the shortage of women who pursue education and…

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Fostering Imagination in Older Kids

Imagination is what drives all creativity in our world; it enables clear thinking and inspires our sense of humanity. Imaginative play comes naturally to children, but it’s a habit of mind that needs to be taught and reinforced later in life. While imagination is vital to a clear mind, it’s not something that’s widely taught or understood, especially among older students. In a 2007 study of prospective teachers, 68% said they believed students needed to…

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Teens and Tech Addiction

Look up from this screen right now. Take a look around. On a bus. In a cafe. Even at a stoplight. Chances are, most of the other people in your line of sight are staring at their phones or other devices. And if they don’t happen to have one out, it is certainly tucked away in a pocket or bag. But do we truly have a technology addiction? And what about our kids? It’s a scary…

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Starting School Later Can Improve Student Health

It’s safe to assume that high school students would probably cherish a little extra sleep in the morning, but did you know that studies show that starting school later for teens is actually healthier for them? Sleep experts have determined a shift in sleep cycles (circadian rhythms) in recent studies. This shift begins in adolescence and makes it more difficult for most adolescents to fall asleep as early as younger children or older adults. Typical…

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No Student is Unreachable

I’m sure most, if not all, teachers can think of at least one student that was defined somewhere along the way as unreachable. The struggles of children who are challenging (often victims of exploited communities, neglect, and abuse) are so heartbreaking and extreme that as professionals, teachers need to share their stories and vent their feelings. It is equally important, however, for them to build from there, and for that they need awareness of and…

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Importance of Recess in Elementary Schools

When I think back on my elementary school years, many of my most vivid memories are tied to the time I spent on the playground during recess. As a kid, I enjoyed my lessons but always looked forward to recess and time to play outside. I absolutely loved spending time running around and playing imaginative games with my friends, and I think now that if an ounce of that time was taken away from me,…

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How to Broach Tough Topics With Kids

With school shootings and other tough topics now commonplace in our country’s nightly news, we not only have to worry about how the students of those schools are affected, but also about the tens of millions of other children in schools across the country who have since heard about what happened and now likely struggle with their own feelings of fear, confusion, and uncertainty. Parents and teachers alike may find the following guide helpful in…

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Benefits of Flow-Based Learning

Watching children and young adults immersed in learning something that interests them often allows you to witness honest and complete engagement and joy. With great educators, learners often feel and experience excitement, wonder, creativity, accomplishment, connection, and pride in both their formal and informal educational environments. All of these feelings are often experienced as part of a “flow” state. The characteristics of flow, according to its originator and researcher, Czikszentmihalyi, are as follows:  Complete involvement,…

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