Category: Education

The Art and Science of Storytelling

The Art and Science of Storytelling

Everyone has a story within them – the problem that many have is that they lack the tools and encouragement to do so. When you put together the right community and technology, everyone has the power to unleash their story. As Alice Walker the American novelist says, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

People have a habit of sharing parts of their story on social media to the tune of 7.5 million daily blog posts.

These posts include 1 million LinkedIn posts, and over 415 million posts on Facebook and Twitter.  Storytelling helps you achieve success: it makes any fact 22 times more memorable.

People that write down goals are 1.5x more likely to achieve their goals.  It also is not as time consuming as you might think, where only 15 minutes over 3 days can improve your mental and physical health.

The psychological benefits of writing include allowing you to heal by processing emotions faster than non-writing methods.  It’s easier to communicate difficult concepts and help you work on your communication skills.  Self-reflection is key – as British actress Emma Watson has stated: “I think your thoughts are so much less frightening when they’re tangible, when you can see them on a page in front of you.”

How can you get started? First, decide what to write about.  Build it up as a habit and start small – even 10 minutes at a time. It’s key to commit and make it a daily / several times a week habit. Daily journaling can also continue your positive habit forming process.

Daily habits and journaling aren’t enough to keep the process going.  Each writer needs support, guidance, and feedback from others in order to be successful. In addition, there are new technologies that have emerged that allow one to socialize writing. You can even create, protect, and sell personal content through these systems.  If you need help, there are private communities of writers to help you collaborate. Don’t hold your story in anymore, writing your story can help unlock your greatness.

The Secret Power of Telling Your Story

The Risks of Technology as an Aid in K-12 Education

Risks of Technology as an Aid in K-12 Education

There’s no escaping the fact that we live in a technologically enhanced age. This has had a significant effect across various facets of our society. For our children, it has become a constant presence not just in their social lives and family time, but also within their classrooms.

It’s certainly true that there are incredible benefits to this. The introduction of technology at an early stage of their development means that students are better prepared for its use in their personal lives, university, and the workplace. They are digital natives, after all, and these tools will play a key role in how they live, and their ability to contribute to society in a relevant and even innovative way.  However, it’s also important to understand that there are limits to the positive influence technology can offer. It’s not innately harmful, but there are potentially problematic areas.

We’re going to take a closer look at the risks of technology as an aid in K-12 education. Where can it drift from useful to problematic, and how can teachers and parents best respond?

Technological Reliance

One of the areas that concern parents and teachers a lot of the time when it comes to technology, is the potential for students to become too reliant upon it. While these tools will factor significantly in their lives, and some — like Google Workspace — straddle both educational and professional fields, they aren’t the be-all and end-all.

When addressing this, it’s important to take stock of how tech is used, rather than just declaring arbitrary limits. The internet of things (IoT), in particular, plays an increasing role in K-12 education. This ecosystem of connected objects helps teachers and students collaborate in the classroom and remotely, scan and share important documentation, and keep the curriculum organized and accessible for everyone involved. There are also innate risks in cybersecurity and costs, but being able to get a good idea of how far-reaching the benefits are helps us to be vigilant of potential overuse. We can see what elements of day-to-day learning and administration technology are used for, and make informed decisions about how to mitigate the risk of reliance.

This is where striving for balance can be a positive approach. Educators and parents should work together to assess which tools are being used in the classroom, which skills they’re providing students, and which abilities may be neglected as a result. If students primarily utilize search engines to research, are they also being provided with the skills to manually research in libraries or critically examine the credibility of their sources? If assignments are accessed and provided via the cloud, are teachers also introducing them to be proactive about finding alternatives should the system fail? Make it clear that these tools should support students in their endeavors rather than being the only options.

Health and Accessibility Problems

While we can consider technology a generally positive presence in schools, we also have to take into account its impact on students’ well being. There has long been some debate over whether incorporating technology into children’s lives can have adverse effects in this regard. While it is unlikely that the mere presence of technology in the classroom can be damaging, there are health risks that teachers, parents, and students should be aware of.

Among the most prevalent of these risks is directly related to screen use. In K-12 classes, there will be various types of screens that will be in use throughout the students’ day — laptops, television monitors, projectors, even smartphones for educational apps or during recess periods. Staring at screens for prolonged periods may be instrumental in causing or exacerbating vision issues in developing eyes. Teachers and parents should be watchful for the early signs of eye problems — squinting, poor attention spans, and persistent headaches are all common symptoms here. Where possible, they should limit the amount of time screens are in use during learning or encourage the installation of blue light filters.

Aside from causing health issues, technology may well be problematic for students that already live with accessibility challenges. As such, schools and teachers need to consider whether the tools they are using can be operated by all students. This should include compatibility with assistive technology, but also extend to whether websites are designed for accessibility. Can they be read by screen reading software? Is there a contrast ratio of 4.5:1, which is the minimum recommended under web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG)?

Privacy and Social Issues

There is a lot of uncertainty about whether technology impacts kids’ social development, but it does open them up to developing or being subjected to detrimental behaviors. Among the most common of these is cyberbullying. This isn’t just concerning from the perspective that bullying can be undertaken anonymously and subject students to disruptive and dangerous abuse. When there is technology in every facet of their lives, including in the classroom, the student can feel as though these attacks are relentless and inescapable. Not only do teachers and parents need to be vigilant for the signs of cyberbullying, there must also be a focus on ensuring the classroom can be a safe space away from it.

Aside from the prospect of bullying, there is the potential for students’ privacy to be impacted, too. Every time students interact with applications and websites there is the potential for their personal and behavioral data to be collected, shared, and sold. Sometimes this is undertaken legitimately by businesses, at others it may be stolen by cybercriminals. This opens them up not only to targeting by advertisers, but also potential fraudulent use of their identities. If technology is to be used in the classroom, there must also be an emphasis on teaching safe behavior, and how to protect themselves against these risks.

Conclusion

Technology is an essential tool for K-12 students, as it plays such a central role in their lives. However, it is important to be fully aware of the various risks involved. Teachers and parents must work together to help students understand these, and be provided with the tools and knowledge to better mitigate the potential negative consequences.

Comprehension Reading Strategies for Elementary Homeschoolers

Comprehension Reading Strategies for Elementary Homeschoolers

Comprehension strategies for reading strengthen the learner’s ability to organize and comprehend text to achieve the real purpose of reading!  The ability to comprehend written content is the key to academic success!  Because it shapes up our skill to understand and helps us to connect with the actual thought conveyed through the written text.

Reading with comprehension is also one of the most desirable skills with a lifetime utility. Hence, our formal education processes rightly aims at nurturing it right in students right since the beginning of their elementary school years.

Similarly, homeschooling parents also acknowledge the importance of these fundamental literacy skills and their long-term advantages for the kids. But several parents/guardians struggle with the strategies to strengthen these extremely important abilities in their loved ones.

If you are also a homeschooling parent or have shifted to homeschooling due to the pandemic, this information will help you to ‘NAIL IT’ easily.

So, let’s pin down some comprehension strategies for reading for elementary stage homeschoolers

1. Allow the learner to create meaningful connections-

Reading without understanding is merely the identification of some written symbols. Hence, our aim should be to strengthen the overall reading comprehension of our young learners. The first and foremost thing that helps in developing comprehension skills in reading is the construction of meaning.

To do this, try to link the content/text with the child’s previous knowledge. And create some meaningful connections to make it more relevant for him/her.

Always go by the child’s pace and do not rush with things. In most cases, kids grasp better when the text is broken down into smaller and easily understandable parts. It is also suggested to focus only on a single part of this information. Because it helps to create clarity through the activities to improve reading comprehension.

2. FUN ELEMENT and understanding check-

Once you complete one part and decide to move ahead, take a few minutes and check the learner’s understanding of the content. Never miss out on summarizing it and add rewards if need be!

Homeschoolers love interactive reading activities. So make these fun by using some simple techniques. For example- You can modulate your voices differently for different characters.

And even add some crazy sound effects!

All this will make it magical for the kid. And he/she will be effortlessly engaged.

At this point, I must mention the greatest advantage of homeschooling- THE FREEDOM TO SELECT THE RIGHT PACE!

So take that extra time and pain and build a sound understanding. And let the child grasp each and every bit perfectly.

During your understanding check, do not expect the child to fully reflect his/her understanding after fun reading activities. Instead, take an idea of the understanding level and figure out learning gaps (if any).

3. Use age-appropriate tools

Fortunately, this INFORMATION AGE offers us some great tools/aids to instill a LOVE FOR READING in our loved ones. And, it is now easier to make use of the most trusted comprehension strategies for reading for homeschoolers.

You can find some downloadable applications and use them with their online and offline features.

I can give you some quick examples-

  • Read Along by Google has an inbuilt reward, assistance, and tracking mechanism- One of the top picks.
  • English Comprehension Reading- Promises longer retention.
  • Sight words- Ideal to instill a love for reading.

4. Try the STORY GRAMMAR approach

Researches have shown that there is a close relationship between the awareness of text structures and reading comprehension. Hence, we must focus on making the text structure more understandable for the child to improve his/her comprehension skills in reading. The simplest way to accomplish this goal is to incorporate features of the story grammar approach for homeschoolers. Because it strengthens their functional literacy skills and also fosters critical thinking in them.

While homeschooling a child, parent/guardians can follow these simple steps and make use of this tried and tested approach:

  1. Present a description of the story parts such as characters, setting, and if possible add some examples to familiarize the kid with these.
  2. Create a scenario through some key information. And allow the child to arrange some unorganized parts of the story on his own.
  • Explain the core story structure and summarize before ending.

Again use some positive reinforcement techniques to maximize the impact of these activities to improve reading comprehension.

Do not forget to APPRECIATE & MOTIVATE THE CHILD ENOUGH!

5. Choose variations, genres, and types of books as per the learner’s taste

Another aspect that has a make-or-break effect in materializing our comprehension strategies for reading for homeschoolers is the selection of content. It is true that stories, books, articles, comics can all trigger a child’s imagination and transport him/her in an imaginative world. But we need to be careful about the information that we supply to these impressionable young minds.

We must always keep these choices free from our biases/opinions and even our personal interests. And also make sure that the selected material does not support any gender, occupation, and other stereotypes. Do expose your child to a wide variety of content. But make sure that it goes well with his/her linking.

6. Make use of supportive technology

Make podcasts, audiobooks, and online resources a routine part of your interactive reading activities. And it is now easy to access a wide variety of supplementary content, like grade-wise EBooks, story-based videos, short movies, and animated stuff over the internet.

Even the international online school nurtures fundamental literacy skills in students through researched online pedagogies and highly engaging online content. And their blend of outstanding strategies is a guiding light for all homeschooling parents/guardians.

Top accredited online schools make use of strategies such as reading goals, highlighting key points, visualizing, and random questioning. And these are all highly effective and fruitful for home-based learning.

Final Thoughts

By now you must have shortlisted some great comprehension strategies for reading.

So, go ahead and apply these to empower your homeschoolers to be HIGHLY VOCAL AND EXPRESSIVE INDIVIDUALS

ALL SET TO MAKE IT BIG IN THE YEARS TO COME!

Thanks for Reading!

Top 7 Factors to Consider When Choosing a School for Your Kids

Choosing a School for Your Kids

Are you a responsible parent looking to provide the best schooling and education to your children?  Do you know what are some important factors you need to consider when choosing a school for your kid?  Have you looked at the various schools, boards, and fee structures only to feel completely overwhelmed?

We all know how important it is to select the right school for your kids to help them with their academic journey. The right interest development in certain subjects can help create a favorable career option.

In recent years, both parents and kids are spoiled for choices when it comes to the sheer number of schools that have come up. However, with each promising to be better than the other, the task of choosing the right school can become overwhelming.

Given what is at stake here, there must be no margin for error when it comes to the decision. In this resource article, we look at some of the most important factors that need to be considered when choosing a school for your child.

Why Selecting the Right School matters?

For some parents, the choice of selecting a school is not that complex. In most cases, it is the government school that is within their zone. However, other parents feel that private schools are a better option. These private schools might be within the zone or outside of it.

The right school embodies within an individual a direction. This direction is both in terms of the future academic foundations as well as career decisions that a child might want to take up once they finish the schooling.

According to experts, rather than the parents taking unilateral decisions based on what they feel is right, certain interests of kids matter too.

  • It is important that the school fits and aligns with the overall personality of your child.
  • Any school should play into the strengths of the child and allow it to further develop.
  • Every family has a certain set of values and the school should look to build on that.

When the interests of both children and parents match in terms of the school, we can say that the decision is a successful one.

List of 7 Factors to Consider when Choosing a School for your Kids

1. The Distance between the House and the School

An important consideration that needs to be taken into consideration is the distance between the school and the home. The shorter the distance, the better it is for kids.  How does the school manage their transportation system.  You do not want your children to be spending two hours traveling on the bus or will you as a parent need to drive them.

This is sure to cause a lot of stress to both the child as well as the parent. Shorter distances between the two can allow a child to utilize the time in other important activities. These can be both educational ones or extra-curricular.

2. The Educational Qualification and Experience of the Faculty

A school is only as good as the kind of faculty members teaching there. As a parent, you need to look at the faculty profile and see the kind of experience that they have. Higher educational qualifications and experience automatically mean that the standard of education will be good.

Additionally, you should also look at the attrition rates of the faculty. Experts recommend that a period of four years on average is a good period to understand how good the school is in terms of retaining its faculty. This is a sign that the teachers are satisfied at the school.

3. Scope for Development of Extracurricular Interests

A lot of parents these days are open to the possibility of their kids pursuing professional activities other than education. This means that they want a school that can give their children the exposure to pursue extra-curricular interests like sports, theater, and others areas.

Having a strong extracurricular program also ensures that the physical development of students carries out. Over a period, a child can develop an interest in one such activity and choose to pursue it professionally. Some schools have a strong sporting culture which is a great benefit.

4. The Ratio of Students and Teachers in a Classroom

Every parent wants to ensure that their children get undivided attention at all times. This is only possible when the ratio of students and teachers is low. For example, experts recommend that the ratio of teachers and students in a classroom should be no more than 1:20.

The lower the ratio, the better can be the level of personal attention that can be expected at the school. Most kids when they are unable to get personal levels of attention can become introverts. It prevents them from raising questions about areas that are unclear to them.

5. The Educational and Extracurricular Infrastructure of the School

All parents want our kids to go to schools that are better than the ones we had gone to. This means that we would want that the infrastructure of the school should be great. School buildings, classrooms, playgrounds, and other areas should be open, large, and safe.

You do not want students to feel suffocated or get injured because of rusty chairs and tables. Good schools invest a lot in terms of their infrastructure. The rise of smart classrooms also requires sizable investments. All this makes for a great learning environment for kids.

6. Fees, Affordability, and other Economic Considerations

There is no doubt that fees are one area that forces most of us to start rethinking our decisions. As parents, we need to think about whether we will be able to afford the fees not just now, but right up until kids finish their schooling (10 to 12 years).

Student fees are not the only area of expenditure parents should worry about. Schools these days take additional fees in the form of several other heads, some of which are not so transparent. Parents need to go for an affordable option to ensure they do not have to change schools.

7. The Educational or School Board that is Prevalent

Last, but by no means the least important consideration that should be made is the School Board. An easy decision is to go for a school that follows the recommended Government Board. An alternative would be to go for an International Board that follows a set curriculum.

Parents that are on the move would prefer an international school that follows the Cambridge Curriculum. Choosing a board will come into play later on, especially if you are looking to make your child sit for competitive examinations.

The Bottom Line

The quest of finding the right school for your kids is probably one of the toughest decisions you will make as a parent. The start of a child’s academic journey needs to begin with the best. It does matter whether you send them to the best preschools or public schools.

If you have any more questions that you would like us to answer or discuss, please write them down in the comments section below. We will try our best to request our experts to help you out to the best of our abilities.


Consider how finding the right school for your kids coincides with finding the ideal property within the best neighborhoods for raising a family.