I don't understand why my second grader does so many drills for fire, tornado and lockdown. Is all of this practice worth scaring the kids?
Schools are mandated by their states to carry out a certain number of practice drills annually with the express goal of protecting children in an emergency, just as flight attendants must teach evacuation procedures every flight. School personnel are trained to teach children a clear procedure to follow that has been developed by safety experts. Ongoing studies render changes in positioning or approach based on the greatest degree of safety, requiring additional practice and discussion. Learning to execute these procedures in an orderly, systematic way is critical to a child's safety should a true emergency occur.
If the reassurance you and your child's teacher provide does not help ease your child's fears, discuss a strategy with the school counselor. In a case of excessive anxiety, a child can be prepared ahead of time that a drill will occur and when – removing the element of surprise. That may help alleviate some worry. A special placement near the teacher might be arranged to help your child feel better.
My daughter is in seventh grade. She and her friends are in constant communication via social media. This is causing so many problems in her circle of friends and even in how much rest she gets at night. What can I do to help?
Girls at this age have always had friendship struggles; social media multiplies those problems. In the past, what might have been passed to one person in a note and lost the next day is now made available to countless others and may be impossible to remove from public perusal. Because you only have direct control over your daughter, it is essential that you discuss her responsibilities as a person in today's technological world. Explain that she should consider everything she posts as being published on a huge billboard. As adults we know that it is easy for someone to share a post that was intended to be personal when kids are at odds with one another. However, your daughter may be defensive of her friends, convinced that they would never do anything like that. To avoid questioning their loyalty to one another, stress instead that someone could share something inadvertently. The intention is irrelevant; the result is the same. Consider joining forces with the other mothers of your daughter's friends. Presenting a united front will result in a greater impact on the entire group.
Many parents report that their kids are texting all through the night, resulting in their sleep being interrupted many, many times. You simply cannot allow this. The importance of rest for a child cannot be exaggerated. The temptation of responding to a vibrating phone will likely be too great for a girl wanting to be in touch with her friends constantly. The simple solution may be that her phone is checked in with you before bed and is returned in the morning. A good night's rest is essential for academic success, emotional health and sound decision making.
Writing is something my fourth grade son absolutely detests. How can I get him to follow-through on his teacher's suggestion to keep a journal over the summer?
Although a few children are born writers, most of them feel exactly as your son does. The last thing they want to do is write; it can be such an intimidating task! However, I don't think that any of us would dispute the ever-increasing importance of effective writing with the amount of text we create and experience every day in both our professional and personal lives. Teaching kids to write well is essential.
Writing a journal is different than writing a diary entry. A diary is a letter detailing the events of a day in a personal way, revealing the writer's private feelings. A journal, on the other hand, is writing that explains an event but concludes with a reflection or generalization about the experience – a lesson learned, a connection made. Help him generate a list of possible topics or gather a bag of objects for inspiration to prevent writer's block. Remember that the idea is to keep your son writing, not that he be writing profound ideas about his day.
Rather than give your child a notebook full of blank pages, use an option that involves technology. Moving the focus from a sheet of paper and a purely abstract idea to a concrete picture will help the task seem less daunting. Encourage your son to consider unusual topics like what he was seeing as he stood at bat with the bases loaded or what it was like for him to wait in line for his first jump from the high dive at the pool. Take a picture of him eating his favorite meal or doing a dreaded chore to inspire him to write. Using something as simple as PowerPoint where he can select interesting backgrounds and incorporate his own photos into his journal entries may make the process more enjoyable for him.
Ask the Teacher is written by Deb Krupowicz, a mother of four and current teacher. Deb holds a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction and has over twenty years of experience teaching preschool, elementary and middle school students. Please send your questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org