Q: When is talking on your phone not talking? When it’s texting!
At the ripe old age of 25 I thought myself to be fairly au courant — that my online skills weren’t at all lacking, or needing of improvement. That is until I added my 13-year-old cousin to my messenger service. Every time I chatted with her online I revealed just how much of a dud I was, and continually had to ask her what acronyms like ROTFL meant (rolling on the floor laughing). Not to mention BRB, GTG, LOL TTYL-see side panel.
- GTG— got to go
- BRB— be right back
- BBL— be back later
- L8R— later
- LOL— laughing out loud
- NP— no problem
- TTYL— talk to you later
- TTFN— ta ta for now
- ROFLOL— rolling on floor, laughing out loud
- OTP— on the phone
- JK— just kidding
- IMHO— in my humble opinion
- IMNSHO— in my not so humble opinion
This kid is only thirteen — how could she possibly be cooler than me? Where is she learning how to do all this stuff? Turns out, my cousin isn’t the tech-wizard trailblazer that I originally thought. In fact, instant messaging is THE hottest communication method for the younger generations — almost any electronic device can be used to “text” a message to one’s peeps (or people). Don’t believe it? Turn on MTV or Much Music during one of the live request shows and watch as the side panels scroll along with what looks like the alphabet on crack. These kids know IM’ing — it’s among their top social communication method.
Some kids have cell phones by the time they are in first grade. Before they can even spell, they can text their friends: WRU? [where are you?] or CUS [see you soon].
Call me old-fashioned, but I find this a little concerning.
Don’t get me wrong, instant messaging is a great tool for social communication, but it can cause some serious issues the classroom, especially if your child is just developing writing/spelling/vocabulary skills. During the early education years, texting could be detrimental to proper language development. Here are some of the reasons why.
- Spelling — vocabulary is key skill in early education. The first grades are all about vocabulary lists, and spelling tests, not to mention sentence writing. Spelling can take a hit when kids, during this critical learning time, use short forms before they know the whole word, let alone how to spell it.
- Grammar — A big part of grammar is punctuation. It takes years to learn how to properly use it, and even then punctuation can be a landmine for mistakes. Online messaging has practically no punctuation, and is basically a grammar free-for-all.
- Complete Thoughts — another key skills that IM has a blatant disregard for is that of the complete, cohesive thought. The major challenge in writing is to be able to express an argument clearly as a complete thought: with a beginning, a middle and an end. One word sentences that are prevalent in IM don’t help to develop the complete thought skill – they detract from it.
- Homework — it’s hard enough to stay focused on homework without being distracted by the chiming alerts of a messaging system every few seconds. If your child struggles to complete his homework, be sure that he signs out of IM before he begins so that he can dedicate some uninterrupted time to focus on the task at hand: homework.
IM isn’t all bad — I’ve been known to partake on occasion, when I just don’t feel like talking. But then, I already have a firm grasp of our language and how it’s used. Once kids develop strong language skills, then they can start learning all the variations, like IM — after all, it’s a great social tool for staying in touch with friends — but it needs to be kept distinctly separate from proper language development.
So maybe my young cousin taught me a few things about IM (okay, she taught me everything I know) but when it comes time for her first university essay, I’m sure that I could show her a few things.
WDYT? [what do you think?]
In future articles, we’ll talk about keeping an eye on IM chats (read monitoring), IM bullying and keeping your child’s online profile free of personal information.
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Sir Ken Robinson, author of Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative, gives an entertaining and touching talk on children and their native creative abilities.
Uncommon Genius by Denise Shekerjian is also worth a look. In it she interviews 40 winners of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship award – an award given to those who demonstrate leaps in creativity – often called the ’Genius Award’.
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Have you ever gotten a test back and you had lost marks because of messiness, or because the teacher couldn’t read some of what you had written?
My son brought home a test the other day and he had lost ten marks because the teacher couldn’t read what he had written! Ten marks! She said that messy handwriting means a messy mind, and that he needed to work on handwriting, and other organizational skills.
Whether or not there is research to prove or disprove this, neat handwriting is generally considered to be a reflection of greater organizational skills. It’s a cultural construct: we think that people with messy, or illegible handwriting must be disorganized in other aspects of their lives as well. Unfortunately, most teachers think along the same lines — if it isn’t well organized on the page, then it probably isn’t well thought out. So, more often than not, sloppy handwriting can equal poor grades.
Good handwriting isn’t just important for test taking — there are many other instances when we need to practice good penmanship. Here are some of them:
- For taking notes in class
- Editing your work, or other’s work
- Making comments in margins of texts or books
- Writing in your agenda
- Writing essay portion of tests — often the essay portion is the most weighted portion of the exam
- Jotting down ideas and inspirations when they come to you in unusual locations
Good handwriting isn’t just important for school — there are many other times when being able to write well (print or cursive) comes in handy:
- On job applications — Some employers won’t even consider meeting people whose application borders on the illegible
- On thank you cards
- To write urgent notes to others
- To take messages
- Addressing a card
- Writing a grocery list
Good handwriting isn’t just important to the upper grades at school. Did you know that learning to print is a great tool for the development of fine motor skills for younger children? Or did you know that it helps develop attention to detail skills? — both of which play a big role later on in school, and in life.
The simple act of improving your child’s writing skills is a great way to demonstrate to a teacher the capacity for improvement. Your child’s teacher will think, if the handwriting can improve, so can everything else. Okay, that may be a bit of a leap-but working on making the “G” a little less round, and ensuring that the “T’s” are crossed and the “I’s” are dotted is a great place to start. This is because good, legible handwriting begins with a little organization — this in turn, transfers to other areas of school, and life. But more on how handwriting can impact life goals next time.
Link:How to Improve Your Handwriting from eHow.com
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It’s a month plus into the school year, and your child is probably settling into a homework routine. But what if you’ve read the homework tips, and tried them all out, and that homework time is less of a routine, and more of a headache? Does this mean that your child might need a tutor? Here are some helpful tips to help you determine if tutoring is right for your child.
Tips to Help You Determine if Your Child Needs Tutoring
- Homework takes too long, or your child can’t seem to complete the assignment in a reasonable amount of time
- Your child has lost motivation
- Your child lies about having homework, or tries to hide it
- If you notice behavioral issues around homework time
- Your child complains of stomachaches, or not feeling well before going to school
- Your child say things like “I don’t get it” or “I’m too stupid”
- You have to fight with your child to get her to do her homework
- Poor grades
- Comments on report cards that say things like “student not reaching his full potential”
How did you know that your child needed a tutor? What were the factors that made you think: “We need to get some help”?
We’d like to know all about your experiences with tutoring — tell us your tutoring story here.
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Where do you stand on the homework issue?
You may have noticed that there is a lot of talk surrounding the topic of Homework. A number of books(see below) have recently appeared criticizing homework claiming that kids gain nothing from doing the tons of homework they are assigned. Some even go so far as to say that homework is waste of time. These books draw on research that suggests that, for lower grades (1-6), homework does little-to-nothing to help improve grades. However, for the upper grades there has been some research that shows that homework can help with standardized testing scores — though there isn’t much research to thoroughly prove anything.
- The Homework Myth
by Alfie Kohn
- The Case Against Homework:
by Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish
- The Battle Over Homework
by Harris Cooper
The books come at a crucial time, as parents have been saying that their children have too much homework, and that the increased amount of homework is putting stress not just on the students, but on the families too. An article on Newsday.com says that since 1981, time spent on homework is up 51 per cent.
Author Bennett agrees that too much homework hurts the whole family. “It takes away from family time, puts parents in an adversarial role with kids and interferes with the child’s ability to play and have other after-school activities.”
Parents also reported that they hate having to play the bad guy, as more often than not they have to police their children into completing assignments. Or they say that they have to devote hours of their own time in helping their kids with their homework — and that the amount of homework is destroying kids motivation and passion for learning.
But there has to be some good points to having homework, right?
Historically, teachers and parents alike have historically touted homework as being necessary to the development of good study habits, to building character, to teaching discipline, and boosting achievement. These things may be true, but author Kohn notes that they have “never been demonstrated empirically.” Kohn cautions that homework is behaviorally conditioning our children to not think for themselves, to just be obedient and do what they are told.
However, Kohn does say that homework has one solid benefit — mainly, if it is used as a tool to develop a love of reading. He also says that the point of education is to turn children into independent, critical thinkers that are responsible, happy people.
Where do you stand on the homework issue?
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