Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Ask the Teacher
Summer reading, new school anxiety, keeping up with technology and 4th fireworks fear

July 01, 2013

Question: I want to encourage my middle school daughter to enjoy being outside and active as much as possible this summer, but I know she should also be reading. What can I suggest she read so that this activity seems fun rather than a pain?

Summer provides the perfect time to read, but it is understandable that knowing what to read can pose a challenge. Consult http://childrensbooks.about.com/od/forparents/tp/summer_reading.htm for a comprehensive collection of book lists that are offered for specific age groups and both genders. The site also provides several links to related sites that may provide interesting insights for you as you work to guide your child.

For a fun approach, consider selecting some books that have been made into movies. Read the books together and then see the movie. Comparing the book to the movie version of the story provides a well-disguised comprehension challenge.

There are many popular titles about the situations teen girls face with their friends, with boys and with school. Your local book store will have them prominently displayed! Reading some of these with your daughter can provide a great springboard for discussions about the challenges ahead. It may also help increase your daughterís comfort level in talking to you about problems that come up later.

Question: Summer is only half over, and my son is already freaking out about starting a new high school. What can I do to help his confidence?

To help your son feel better about what is coming, help establish familiarity before classes start. As soon as the buildings are open, meet with a counselor. Have him walk the halls and become comfortable with where his classes are. The counselor may be able to pair your son up with another new student or someone with similar interests. Taking a summer school class is a great way to meet some other students, even if the class isnít required for your sonís academic program. Perhaps the counselor can provide an email contact of a teacher whose class is a concern for your son. The teacher could provide some tips for being prepared for the first day so your son walks into class ready for what is coming.

Work with the counselor to identify activities that your son may be interested in. Make sure that your son knows when the activities start and what should be done to sign up. If possible, have him make contacts with the leaders or coordinators of the activities now so that he doesnít get cold feet later. No matter how reluctant your son may be, insist that he try some activity. This may be tough initially, but it is essential to meeting people and to creating a rewarding high school experience.

Question: My kidsí school is relying more and more on technology. I am very uneasy about this change. Is it really good for kids?

Every significant shift from our own experience creates some anxiety. Increased reliance on technology is absolutely mandatory; schools must utilize every possible avenue to engage students in learning in ways that best prepare them for their future. If schools arenít making the shift, they are putting students at a distinct disadvantage. Accept that insisting on education happening the way it happened a generation ago will not prepare kids for the world in which we live.

To prepare your children for this shift, spend some time exploring technology with them. Introduce them to keyboarding websites to hone their typing skills. Familiarity with efficient typing cannot happen too early. Become comfortable with the tools that your school and its teachers use. Donít hesitate to set up a meeting with your childrenís teachers as soon as school starts for a tutorial on where to find what. Your own understanding will eliminate confusion and tension.

Question: My preschooler is so afraid of fireworks that she dreads the Fourth of July. I want her to understand what a patriotic celebration this is. How can I help her see this as a special holiday rather than an occasion to dread?

Help your daughter appreciate what is behind the fireworks by reading some patriotic books written for young children. Try reading I Pledge Allegiance, America the Beautiful or Fourth of July Mice. Draw the analogy for her between her birthday candles and the fireworks display, suggesting that because this celebration of our nationís birth is for every American, beautiful fireworks must light up the sky for all to see. To help decrease the noise factor, have her listen to uplifting patriotic music through ear buds to add to the feeling of celebration and filter out the noise.

Ask the Teacher is written by Deb Krupowicz, a mother of four and current teacher. Deb holds a Masterís 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 asktheteacher@indyschild.com