READING ACTIVITY: WHO ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

It is about discovering the character from a very short description.

Participants

They can be young or older children, depending on the story. Regarding the number of children, it shouldn’t be larger than twenty.

Objectives

  • To understand the story and identify its elements.
  • To exercise the attention.

Method

we need some cards to write down a short description of every character of a story, without naming it; we can write down the feelings, attitudes and psychological characteristics, making as many cards as children (there can be various descriptions, about different aspects of the same character).

Once the story is read or told, the cards will be distributed (facing down), and everyone can read them silently. The session starts. Every child will read his card and will answer the question “who are we talking about?”. The session can end with a discussion about which character is more attractive or the more generous, or envious, etc., and the reasons.

STRATEGIES TO ENCOURAGE READING

The purpose of stimulating and promoting the reading in children, not only requires a general reflection about reading and its teaching methods, but also about the design, planning and realization of a series of systematic activities to which teachers, students and parents should be really committed. The combination of these activities is known as strategy.
This concept can be defined from its main elements. A strategy should have its objectives clearly determined. In the case of a strategy to encourage reading, the main goal is to promote in children the love for reading and writing, in the classroom as well as in other situations. Besides this general objective, every strategy should define specific objectives, set in order to take care of the various purposes of reading. For example, one of these objectives could be to develop the ability to search for information.
To reach the objectives it is necessary to organize activities that, combined with different tools and materials, can be developed systematically, in a specific time, and that can be evaluated in order to improve them during the process.
These activities should be meaningful experiences for the children, and should be included within the school and daily life context.

THE INTERNET AND STUDY TIME

Children associate the Internet with games, rather than with studying. This is why its use is more difficult to supervise. The Internet can be a powerful learning tool, but it can also provide distractions, so if it’s not used properly, there can be a loss of control. New technologies can be helpful to them, and it can be very positive to motivate their learning if they’re used right. To make this happen, parents have to understand how their children relate to these new technologies. For many of them, it’s like a part of them: they know how to use them automatically. Besides, it’s their entrance to the world, a universe where fastness and interactivity are their best allies.

AVOID STUDY “TIME STEALERS”

Video games, TV, computers… these are time stealers that sap at children’s study time. The ideal would be to not have to hide them, but rather control how long they can spend watching TV and playing videogames, but this shouldn’t start when they’re fifteen years old. It should start when they are seven, because these are habits established when the child is young. This way, it’s natural to impose limits and parental authority. Some psychologist recommend to put limits on the time to use them, and only allow it if they’ve finished studying.

ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE OF CLASS

Specialists say that if the child is getting good grades, it’s good for them to do a couple of extracurricular activities that keep him busy for two or three days a week. But, they insist on the importance of combining activities that require studying (music, painting) with other activities that don’t (sports). These activities help create habits, and you must constantly seek them. It’s not just entertaining; the child can also see his own progress. Keep in mind that the child shouldn’t be overwhelmed with more learning activities after class, and you can’t subtract from his studying time.

MAINTAIN CONTACT WITH THE SCHOOL

To get the best results from the children’s studying, the most important thing is the follow-up at home. The second most important thing is to keep personal contact with our child’s teacher and to be able to speak with them about the learning and professional and emotional aspects that could affect our child. The goal is for parents to know what’s going on in class, and for the teacher to know what’s going on at home. The first meetings with the teacher are especially important because they help you get to know the teacher, the other families, to solve doubts, etc.

WHEN TO CREATE A CUSTOMIZED STUDY PLAN

When a student hasn’t acquired a study habit from his early years, things get complicated. The same thing happens if they are not motivated in school: his experience will be similar at home, and this starts creating tension between parents and students when it comes to studying. The most important thing to consider with these students is motivation. Try not to make them do boring or repetitive activities, try to have their activities relate to subjects of interest to them (animals, sports), and try to get the teacher’s help. For students who get bad results, a big part of the problem comes from children working almost exclusively when they have tests. Instead, they must work out a weekly studying schedule to get a short term look at the results of their effort. This system works if it’s not excessive, and for the most difficult cases there must be a customized plan between the teacher and the parents.

STUDY SUPERVISION

Family must control the learning process. If there’s no monitoring and no studying guidelines for children, then there’s chaos. Supervision during studying doesn’t mean that the parents have to solve every single doubt the children have; we shouldn’t do our children’s job, but rather ask them how they think a problem can be solved. We must guide them, help them find out what’s causing difficulties, and then have them give a positive comment so they can see they’re capable of doing it and they get motivated. In other words, we must help them think.

How to motivate our child? The first thing to do is to help the child feel that there’s a meaning to what he’s doing. If he doesn’t believe it, when something is not coming out right, he’ll leave it for another day. This is why supervision is necessary. We need to ask him questions, see if he summarized the job, if he’s properly following procedures, and we must correct his spelling mistakes, dedicate time to him, and overall, just be interested in it.

STUDY TECHNIQUES

Usually, performance during studying starts by being regular (so it’s best not to start with the most difficult subjects), then after a while, the performance is better, and during the final minutes it’s usually lower (this is the ideal time for simple or automatic tasks). The most advisable thing to avoid distractions is to have the child dive straight into studying. Among the basic rules that can be followed when studying, this is suggested:

 

  • Do a first exploratory reading of the book or note’s subject to be studied, but without underlining.
  • Do a second reading, this time deeper and underlining. It’s all about prioritizing ideas and marking them differently according to their importance.
  • Draw a graph with the main ideas or write a summary.
  • Learn by reading several times, and even repeating aloud, the graph or summary.
  • Organize a study plan for the exam. If, for example, the exam is in eight weeks, review the summaries and graphs periodically.
  • Read everything again to make sure the graph or summary is well-organized and nothing important has been left out.
  • Don’t continue studying with the original material (book or notes), but rather the material that’s already been written.
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