Sunday, August 12, 2012

First Day Of School: Suggestions from a Right-Brainer

She giggled while I spread the lacy throw-blanket on our wood floor and picked some classical music from the electric piano's selection. I directed her to the back of the aisle, hit "play" for the music and stood, as stately/cornily as one could at the other end of the "aisle". Then,  I gave the new 1st grader leave to walk up and graduate into a new grade.

My Momma has asked me (and my other sister, Kara) for ideas on how to kick off the school year and make school in general interesting - from the student's perspective. Thus, my post.

For starters, I have a dreamy/romanticistical sort of style. I like sweeping, gently glowing, elegant, beautiful, stupendous, soft, starlight, swells of music, flowers, special touches...and strong brushstrokes of personality throughout the whole thing. That's just me. However, I've learned that one can't always have things exactly the way she imagines them "improvise" has entered my vocabulary as well.

Understanding my "style" will give you wisdom with children who also have this dreamy and/or "Right Brain" perspective on things. If your children are practical, they may not appreciate some of these ideas...but then again, you never know. :D

Idea One: Make it SPECIAL. Add some ceremony to the first day. If the kids are young enough, have them walk up an "aisle" (improvised as it may be), shake their hands as if they were graduating from Harvard and welcome them into their grade. I advise presenting each with their new school supplies (don't let them see these until the first day!) or (as I did with my little sister) present them with an eraser, tell them the story of the million fails Thomas Edison made when trying to make the light bulb, and encourage them that mistakes help us learn what not to do and give us a "leg up" to success.

For older kids, have everyone gather in your living room and talk (or better,) give a speech to them about something important: Why we do school, or "I can give you the materials, but you are the one that has to learn from them. In reality, you are in charge of your education. I can't make you learn. You can waste this time and opportunity, or you can take advantage of it and climb on these rungs to higher knowledge." - You can use those meanings and put them together in an upbeat form. Something like that. Make a small presentation to each student - maybe a journal to encourage composition practice and record their school experiences.... Something practical. (Can you believe I just used that word?!) Read an encouraging scripture, pray...and begin!

Ideas for encouraging the love of learning in children who aren't terribly interested in "The World of Botany" etc.

This is what works for me.

Your goal here is to encourage an interest in the subject. If students feel that they're just trying to get through (enter subject here), they obviously won't really be trying to learn algebra or botany or Spanish or music, etc. for long term usage. What's more, the situation can become miserable for everyone involved.

Everybody knows that. But here's one more way to help accomplish our goal:

Read a book that inspires awe for the subject the child is flagging in. Books work better than movies, here.

If you're trying to encourage an interest in botany, for example, read "Freckles" by Jean Stratton-Porter (A captivating story of a boy who loves and studies nature while guarding a goldmine of a forest, risking life and limb to live up to the boss's trust in him. Girls will like this too. - Though you'll need to take your magic marker along for the read and will need to skip over a couple parts.) Or...there's another book called "My Side Of the Mountain" by Jean Craighead George - another great one for the family. (This one's free of romance and, as far as I know (we did this as a read-aloud) there's no "language" in it.) I'm sure you can think of a few more, when necessary.

You can do this for any subject - even math, I'd assume. Just find a story about someone who inspires your students (young or old) to want to become and expert on (enter subject) like the hero/heroine in the book. The main character of the book should be lovable - or at least "likable"- so that the children will want to be like him or her.

When Memorization Won't Stick:

Sing! Put "Psalm 23" to music - or General Washington and the necessary Revolutionary War facts. They'll remember them that way!

Especially for older students:: Have them make up a goofy story so they'll remember the details. If they can't remember that "Abraham Wattson grew up in Waterloo Tennessee" teach them to make up something simple to jog their memory. "Mr. Wattson grew up in Waterloo and was good at swimming in over ten feet of water." Here we include reference to "Mr. Wattson", the city in which he lived, and a word that starts like the state he lived in. Be sure to explain the "whys" of the story and it should work like a charm.

Okey-dokey. There's my input. Hope it helps with your presentation, Mom!


Anonymous said...

I love your suggestions, Anna! I think the moms that I talk to will too.

Becca is going to have a great year this year. You are doing a marvelous job as a "teacher-in-training".

Amber =) said...

Hey anna! I just wanted to let ya know that I awarded you with the I love your blog award! Go to my page- and check it out!! =)
Amber :)

Anna said...

Thank you, Momma! You're so encouraging. :)

@ Amber! AWW! Thank you! I really, really, really appreciate it! *Hug*

Elisabeth said...

Fun ideas and well written, like always.

Another idea is to have an activity to culminate something you are studying. If you're studying Indians, for example, have them dress as an Indian and give a speech on what they learned to their grandparents. Of course, it could be someone beside their grandparents - maybe even Dad!