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Brain Gym for Home and School

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Visit our class at 9:00 am and you will see the children getting water and getting ready to start our day… the Brain Gym way.

We begin our days outside on the playground for a bit of fresh air, socialization and playtime.  Following our outdoor time, we drink water to get our neurons firing and begin Brain Gym.  The children follow the teacher through a variety of mid-line movements, such as the cross-crawl, neck rolls, and lazy eights.

These mid-line movements help increase uper-lower body coordination which are  necessary for both gross and fine motor skills when both the right and left hemisphere of the brain are working together.

img_6087Other movements include energy exercises such as  brain buttons, hook-ups and  positive points.  Like electrical circuits in buildings become overloaded, our energy circuits overload at times as well. These energy exercises activate the neocortex and refocus the electrical energy back to the reasoning centers, thus regaining coordination of thought and action.

We conclude our Brain Gym time  with two minutes of silent meditation followed by a time of sharing.  Most children look forward to sharing their thoughts and meditations which vary from vacation experiences, to works in the classroom that they want to do, to thoughts about peace and friendship.

img_6091Our Brain Gym and meditation time is something I look forward to every day.  Come join us sometime and experience it yourself!

Please read the following articles that explain the educational kinesiology of BrainGym and to see examples of exercises you can do with your child at home.  These are great exercises for all ages!

December 2, 2016 7:35 pm  |   Category: ,   |   Comments Off on Brain Gym for Home and School

The Purpose of Praise

Research shows that telling children, “good job”, is ineffective.  Furthermore, it creates the opposite of our intention, which is to boost self esteem.

Let that settle.  How many times a day do you either say this to your child, or hear it being said to one?  On playgrounds, sports fields, in classrooms and living rooms, adults use this phrase as the most common form of praise thinking it is beneficial.

In order to explain how detrimental this phrase can be, a deeper understanding of praise is needed. Praise is a way to express approval or admiration, and the intention when using it is to encourage the child to repeat a behavior. Unfortunately, saying, “good job” has no value in that it does not help the child to understand why what he did was good, therefore the encouragement to repeat the behavior is not there. Saying, “good job” does not express approval as praise is intended to be.  Instead, this two word phrase fails to highlight a specific behavior that the adult wants a child to repeat.  It focuses only on the outcome and completely ignores the process that occurred. If the steps taken in order to be successful are not ever acknowledged, how is the child able to evolve and develop independence?   As parents, teachers, and coaches we should recognize that it is imperative to acknowledge the steps a child has taken to be successful at something in order to reach the goal of becoming independent.

Focusing on a specific behavior is where the statements of approval need to be.  In order to praise effectively, children should be told exactly what they did well so that they will be able to repeat the desired behavior.  If your child helps prepare dinner by cutting some vegetables, their effort should be the focus of the praise.  “It really helped our family when you cut the veggies for dinner.”  Or, “I noticed you being very careful when using the chopper and that made all the ones you cut stay on the cutting board!”  This kind of praise is thoughtful, encourages the effort, fosters independence, and promotes self value.

The boost of self esteem born from this type of appropriate praise would be immeasurable.  Upon hearing these messages, a child will try harder, become self motivated, and learn from his experiences.

Submitted by Ms. Monica & Ms. Sarah
Primary 2 Co-Lead Teachers

November 15, 2016 4:14 pm  |   Category:   |   Comments Off on The Purpose of Praise

Big Step Toward a Diaper-Free Life

“Toilet training, like every developmental milestone, is the compilation of numerous neurobiological processes affected by social opportunities, cultural expectations, and temperamental tendencies (Schonwald and Rappaport 2008).”

Being diaper-free is a big step toward conquering one of the obstacles of life. It is a developmental milestone for a toddler. As a parent or teacher, we have to look for signs to help them get rid of diapers when they tell us they need to change their diaper because it is wet. Research shows that 20-26 months of age is the ideal time for toilet training, however every individual is different. Eventually everyone will be toilet trained. In my experience, if the child is attending school during the toilet training process, the school and home need to play the same role. Because we are fortunate to have multi-age class, I pair them up with a trained child so the trainee child gets his motivation from his companion.

Some parental guidelines are:

The child needs to develop basic dressing/undressing skills.
The child needs to take the diaper off and put the underwear on to feel the wetness. This way they learn the consequences.
Consider the clothing which is child friendly so that the child can easily manipulate his pants and underwear by himself which requires minimum assistance.
Maintain a bathroom schedule.
Mentally prepare for some messy situations like accidents.
During this time you may also see some emotional changes happening to the child.

If you are further interested, many developmental behavioral pediatrics have their publications available, such as the following articles:

1. B. Taubman and N. J. Blum. “Toilet Training,” Encyclopedia or Infant and Early Childhood Development, 2008, pp 356-364

2. A. Schonwald and L. A. Rappaport. “Elimination Condition,” Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, 2008, pp 791-804.

Jayati Bhattacharjee
Toddler Lead Teacher

October 26, 2016 4:11 pm  |   Category:   |   Comments Off on Big Step Toward a Diaper-Free Life

Art with Dr. Hequembourg

As a brief introduction for those parents who do not know me: my name is Laticia Hequembourg, my daughter Harper attends kindergarten at MSH (she is in Shree and Leela’s class). Teaching and creating art are among my greatest passions in life. I hold a PhD in adult education from Auburn University. My dissertation explored creativity generation and the creative process in adult learners. I also hold a master’s of art education from Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont, and a BA in studio art with a concentration in sculpture from The State University of New York in Potsdam, New York. I have taught for the last few years as an adjunct professor in the fine art departments at both Alabama A and M University and Calhoun Community College.

This year at MSH I teach two kindergarten art classes, and both the lower and upper elementary art classes. The kindergarten art curriculum explores the basics of creating art through the inspiration of a variety of art forms and disciplines. Thus far we have found inspiration for our paper cut outs through the literary work of Shel Silverstein. We have also concentrated on learning about the elements of art with the construction of a visual chart that highlights both color and texture. This week we will be weaving paper to create work mats and then moving along to watercolor.

Both lower and upper elementary have been concentrating on the fundamentals and basic compositional components of drawing. They are currently working on self- portraits in oil pastel. In the next few weeks to come we will be transitioning into painting and focusing on color theory.

Also, as a note to all parents: I wanted to take a moment to inform parents that I will be utilizing a website called Artsonia (www.artsonia.com). Artsonia is a free online digital portfolio and student art gallery dedicated to promoting the visual arts curriculum in schools worldwide. I will e-mail parents individually with a password so that you can log on and view your child’s work throughout the year (you can also upload artwork yourself). This is a great way to share work with friends and family, keep a digital record of creative development, and the website offers fun keepsakes (these make excellent personalized gifts) with your child’s work, with 20% of sales going directly to the participating school’s art program. Keep a look out for more information regarding log-in details.

Thanks in advance for all of your support, if you should have any questions, please feel free to contact me anytime.

Dr. Laticia Hequembourg

September 28, 2016 3:34 pm  |   Category: , , , , ,   |   Comments Off on Art with Dr. Hequembourg

Music with Ms. Kathy

All our music classes are up and running, toddlers through third graders, and are off to a good start!

Toddlers are keeping a steady beat, learning how to work with sticks, and moving to music. You can reinforce that sense of steady beat by patting and rocking and bouncing them to music.

Preprimary Students are developing their singing voices with many songs and activities. The best thing parents can do to help tonal memory is to provide good quality children’s recordings, those with high and light singing voices. And just sing a tone and have your child match that pitch in little echo games.  Be an owl!

Kindergarteners and first graders are doing circle dances, singing, listening, counting steady beats, and preparing for learning to play an instrument and read music. This is the perfect time to begin private instrumental lessons.

Second and third graders are reading music and playing the recorder, and moving very quickly through the book. We will learn the recorder first semester and ukuleles second semester. Take your children to concerts of all types, expose them daily to many kinds of music, get them involved and keep them listening to good music.

I’m available to answer your questions anytime.

September 12, 2016 3:55 pm  |   Category:   |   Comments Off on Music with Ms. Kathy