Supplemental Learning Opportunities

Hello Readers!  Happy Monday, and Happy President’s Day to you all!  If you have the chance, I would highly recommend researching a president of your choice today with your kids.  For some really great and accurate information, as well as an unbiased portrayal, I would also recommend that you check out the Library of Congress website at www.loc.gov.  Almost everything on this website is informative, and the website even has teaching lessons for kids and for teachers to use to teach children of all ages about our US history.  It’s a fantastic site with tons of information, historical pictures, and plenty of education recommendations for you to enjoy.

So, today, I want to focus on some ways we, as parents, can help our children learn and grow at all ages.  Now, we should support and foster a good working relationship with our children’s teachers and schools.  By doing so we can better encourage our kids to learn and appreciate their education.  But, what else can we do?  Well, there are a few things you can do to help them more.

One way you can do more for your children’s education is to purchase student workbooks and learning materials from a teacher store.  These stores are often found in strip malls in larger towns, but you can order these supplies online or walk into these stores and buy them.  These stores are really cool, too!  They have learning workbooks, materials, and even games for every subject at every age, and you do not have to be a teacher to buy these items or to shop at this store.  Yes, teachers may received a discount on their purchases, but these supplies are not restricted to just teacher use.

What I love about these stores is that you can find such great learning material in these stores that your kids can use to learn or to help them through tough topics.  These supplies are always helpful and useful, and even homeschoolers use these supplies to teach their kids.  These supplies are basically workbooks with activity pages in them that progress as you work through the book.  I don’t know about any of you, but I remember seeing some of these pages in my own childhood classrooms in public school; my teachers would often use the activities to drive through a lesson or two, and they often were fun and educational.

Now, aside from using teaching materials, I also would recommend fostering a good online learning experience from credible sources like the Library of Congress website.  I love the Library of Congress site for educational purposes.  Their site actually includes lesson plans and learning opportunities under their “Teachers” section.  And, what’s better than that?  You can select which type of educational standards you wish to follow—Common Core, State Content, or Organizations like NCTE (National Council for Teacher Education)—and you can search based on topic: Language Arts, Library/Technology, or Social Studies.  Under these topics, you can also search for lesson plans based on the grade level, and you will come up with a slew of valuable lesson plans for free.

Now, these lesson plans rely on the Library of Congress and the materials available on there.  But, almost all of the lessons are unbiased, equal, and fair.  There are very few lessons that are political; those that are focus on generalizations rather than biased and specific politics.  For example, there is a lesson plan that uses To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee for historical perspective and for literary analysis at the 8th grade level in Nevada.  This lesson plan starts by having students describe the portrayals of discrimination and racial issues in select historical photos.  And then it progresses from this throughout the book for four to six weeks to help students learn about the historical side of the book.

Even though the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s and racial issues right now are wrought with politics and political views, we can all agree that racism and discrimination don’t belong in our society.  And we want to prevent the past from reoccurring.  So the best way to avoid repeating history is to explain what happened in an unbiased way.  And the Library of Congress does a great job of doing that with lesson plans like this.  Furthermore, these lesson plans are age-appropriate and safe to view.  In fact, in the above plan, most of the photos portray the sit-ins, the segregation signs, and the true peaceful protests of the 1960s.  They do not show racial slurs, violence, profanity, or anything that I would say is inappropriate for grade 8 kids.

A final way to help foster learning for your kids is to encourage them to read books.  I loved this as a kid myself.  My mom used to take me to the library every week and let me pick out an age appropriate or reading level appropriate book to read that week.  Each week, she would ask me about the book when I completed it.  If I could explain what the book was about in five to ten minutes, then she took me to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal on Saturdays to reward me for my reading success.

Now, you don’t have to do the McDonald’s thing, but I would definitely recommend doing something like this.  Not only do you encourage reading among kids, you also help your children learn how to recall what they learn and how to accurately describe things.  If you’re feeling really brave, you can even have them read books from the banned list.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard about the banned books in the world, but it’s amazing how very few people actually know much about the list.  The American Library Association began the list decades ago.  And the books on the list are placed there for different reasons, some of which are obsolete.  In fact, many of the books on that list are books that even I remember reading in school prior to the new century.  For example, Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian, which is a close portrayal of Alexie’s own education experience in a white school, is considered to be a frequently challenged book in the Young Adult section.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has also been a frequently challenged book among the classics, as well as some like The Call of the Wild by Jack London and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.  So, just because a book is banned doesn’t mean that it isn’t a great book.  And, as can be seen by some the books, many of these are now considered to be obsolete for their banning reasons.  For more information, or to see the lists of books, please visit www.ala.org.

I hope that these ideas will become a part of your household to encourage and foster learning and reading among your children today!

Until next time,

-BBM

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