Celebrate Arbor Day With Kids at Home

Girl W Gardening Gloves

April is full of events such as National TV Turnoff Week, Earth Day and Arbor Day. Teachers may introduce activities at school related to these events, but you also can plan Arbor Day activities of your own at home. Celebrating this 135-year-old holiday on April 29, 2011, can tie in nicely with turning off the TV and celebrating Earth Day on April 22, 2011.

Traditionally, the idea behind Arbor Day was to have a special day set aside to plant trees. Communities recently have expanded the idea to include community beautification projects, concerts and paper drives. Taking part in such an event can help raise children’s awareness of their environment.

At home your children can watch the video It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown and learn about preserving green space. They also can learn the names of the trees in your yard or on your street. And, of course, you can host a tree-planting celebration in your own backyard.

Encourage students to pick their issues

Question: My fifth-grader is a stubborn child. He never budges when he thinks he is correct. While we find this annoying at home, his teacher is impatient and not very nice when he digs in his heels because he believes he is right. The teacher is tired of him arguing about the correctness of his views. How can we turn this around?

Answer: You need to tell your son that you support him having his own ideas. You don’t want to crush him for expressing his views. At the same time, he needs to learn when and how to make a point when there is a disagreement.

One possible solution for the classroom, that could also work at home, is for him to write down his disagreements. The teacher could then give him five minutes in the morning and five in the afternoon to discuss only one issue in a one-on-one conversation. He chooses the issue to be discussed. As your son realizes his views are being heard, this discussion time can be reduced.

Get missed work during school absences

Question: My son, who is in middle school, has been sick a lot this year and has fallen behind in his schoolwork. Every time he is ill and absent from school, he is inundated with work in every subject when he returns. He has to complete the current assignments in addition to finishing missed work. Is it essential for him to make up all the schoolwork he missed?

Classes are organized so that each day some new material usually is presented and expected to be mastered within a certain number of lessons. Review work helps children learn recent lessons. In some classes, it is essential to master current material to be able to handle future lessons. This is especially true in math and science. For this reason, it is important for children to make up at least part of most missed lessons. They almost always need to read textbook chapters. Failing to make up key material can lead to difficulty mastering new material and poor test scores.

Making up work can be easier if children get daily assignments from the school while they are still at home. Call your son’s school and arrange to get his work so he can complete more of it before returning to school. In some schools, teachers make this easy by putting daily assignments online.

Talk to your child’s teachers, especially if his illnesses stop him from doing much of his schoolwork at home. Devise a plan that will help him stay as current as possible when he misses school, without drowning him in work when he returns.

Learning through music

Before my girls were 3, I put the spelling of their names to music. I also put our telephone number to music, and that helped them easily learn this important information. Also, when they were 3 years and older, we played word games such as, “Give me a word that starts with the letter …” or “Give me a word that sounds like … .” Thought these ideas might be of value to other parents.

Using music to teach your children vital information is a good approach. It also could be used to teach them their home address and parents’ names. These are things that young children should know.

Starting young children learning letters and sounds by playing word games is better than using workbooks because it is more interesting. Plus, they can be played everywhere.  n

Parents can send questions and comments to dearteacher@dearteacher.com.

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