Traditional ways of learning required a teacher, a chalkboard, a desk, a ruler, pencil, and a textbook. A teacher with a stern, professional posture stood before the room with barely a smile on her face as she taught her class. This was the image seen in many movies, and some adults actually had her in their class many years ago. She or he may have conducted a rather boring class, spending a lot of time talking over your head or talking to the chalkboard. The teacher restricted the class to textbook studies only and quizzes and tests every week. Every now and then it was a real treat for students to watch a movie in her class, even if it was boring and the film jumped around on the screen. As for field trips, forget about it, students were lucky if they got to have an additional recess from time to time. Then when test time came, the worksheets seemed to be as old as them. Oftentimes a student, with a raised arm, would say, “I can’t read number 15.” Then other students would nod or murmur in agreement. It would be a long school year in Mr. or Ms. XYZ’s class.
Years ago, the Internet didn’t exist, so we will just excuse Ms. XYZ for not having readily accessible information that could give her the ideas to stimulate her students. She may have been too busy grading papers or tending to her own family. Whatever her excuse, she has none nowadays. There are plenty of websites, articles, and other ways to make learning fun for children. The following suggestions may help you as a parent, who would like to assist your children or the teacher, stimulate her skills while making life more interesting for her class.
1. When beginning a new subject or topic to teach, why not decorate the class related to a theme. For instance, if you will be teaching about dinosaurs, why not have posters hanging in your classroom about dinosaurs?
2. Provide something fun related to your topic that children could take home to color, solve a puzzle or show off such as stickers or a colorful book that they can keep.
3. Always have an interesting DVD ready to “kick off” a new subject.
4. Set a time during the day, maybe Friday, where the students are required to work on a project together related to the topic. Students could try to piece a puzzle together, watch a video and write or draw what they really like from it, or play a game that will help them remember what you have taught them.
5. You may want a speaker to come in and talk about the subject other than you. Find out from parents if they know someone that would be willing to come to the classroom to speak on the topic you are teaching. Have the speaker bring something with them that will help the students remember his or her visit.
6. Talk with other teachers about what you are doing, and maybe they would be willing to help you. They may be interested in getting their class to participate.
7. Research your local community for events that will aid you in your teaching. There may be a “free zoo day” and you just happened to be teaching on animals.
8. Watch out for sales. Sometimes, products you may need to accompany your topic can be purchased at a reasonable price.
9. Tell parents both verbally and physically how you can use their input.
10. Visit online forums, blogs or create your own social networking profile to connect with other teachers to exchange ideas.
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