A School-ready kid has curiosity

Studies show that a child’s curiosity and creativity decline drastically by age 10 because their primary caregivers (parents and teachers, mostly) do not encourage them to ask questions but rather want them to sit still in a classroom while the teacher speaks the whole time OR keep quiet at home because the parents are too busy to answer their questions. Encourage them to ask questions because being curious about the world is a sign of a school-ready kid!

Is your child still crying in school?

gracepointwellness.org photoWhat would you feel if you were brought to a new place, without any familiar face and made to do things you haven’t done before? I would probably cry, too! Now, you may ask why the other kids aren’t crying and your child is.. Kids handle stress in various ways. I remember my eldest crying on the first day of Fourth Grade because she had just transferred schools. What makes them stop crying? A feeling of security. How do they achieve this?

  1. Familiarity. Preschoolers usually hate surprises! They feel more safe in familiar surroundings. Also, the more they get to know their teacher, the more familiar the teacher would be to your child. Teachers would usually calm the crying students by staying close to them during class or assigning a co-teacher to focus on those experiencing anxiety.
  2. Transitions and Routines. If you notice preschool schedules, it has repeating blocks of time or routines. This allows your child to expect what will happen next. Knowing this gives your child a sense of control and security.
  3. Positive Images. In order for school to be a happy place for your child, he should have a positive image of it. He will eventually enjoy the activities, the playground and games with classmates. Encourage him to talk about it at home by asking him about his day.
  4. Assurance from YOU. If your child reads stress in YOUR face as well then that will also be his prevailing emotion. Try to keep a reassuring demeanor when you are dealing with your child’s separation anxiety. Keep your statements short and clear, “Mommy, will pick you up after school.” “Mommy will leave now. Teacher will take care of you in the classroom.” Promising that you will “just be outside” or saying “I’ll give you a reward if you stop crying.”usually does not help. It gives your child a false sense of security.
  5. Working with your child’s school and teacher. Your child’s teacher is an expert in child development and separation anxiety. Listen to what they have to say about the issue and follow their advice on how your child can overcome it. What do teachers usually suggest?
    • “Leave and Cleave” – When dropping off your child, it is best to leave as soon as you drop your child off. We had a student who cried when he would arrive in school with his mommy. Out of worry, his mommy would stay with him until classes would start. We noticed that our student would stop crying when his mom leaves. When we asked the mom to just drop him off and leave, our student had an easier time overcoming her anxiety.
    • Have someone else bring your child to school. We had a case once that a student would cry when Mommy would bring her to school and wouldn’t cry when Daddy brings her. We asked Daddy to bring her for the first month of school.

In my 15 years of teaching, all our young students who experienced separation anxiety eventually overcame their anxiety after a few weeks of attending school. Believe me, they WILL stop crying… if both you and the school do your parts well. If your child is still crying after a month of going to school, it is best to ask for a meeting with your child’s teacher to discuss what further steps you may take. You may ask your school the following questions:

    • How does the teacher manage crying students in the classroom?
    • Do they have set routines in class?
    • What is the teacher:student ratio or aside from the teacher, is their another adult who can attend to students experiencing anxiety?
    • Does your child cry the whole time or are there random triggers during class? (some kids cry when teachers turn off the lights during rest time, or when it’s snack time because they’re used to their parent or caregiver feeding them)?

“Don’t send your child to a PROGRESSIVE SCHOOL because they won’t be able to cope in college” and other Progressive School Myths..

I received a message from a mom that voiced out what a friend told her. “A friend of mine told me not to enroll my child in a progressive school because college here in the Philippines is traditional and might not be able to cope up with the system”, said her friend. She asked my opinion about it. I got some back-up for this  myth (yup, it’s a myth) from reliable and established educators and here are their answers:

“I think it’s a misnomer for parents to think that having their child establish their educational foundations in a progressive school means that they will have a hard time adjusting in college.”

“There are many students who have graduated from progressive elementary schools who have thrived in traditional high schools; and still others who have graduated from progressive high schools who have succeeded in traditional colleges and universities. What a progressive school teaches you is to be creative, open-minded, resourceful and excited about learning and new ideas. All of these attributes spell success in any educational (or working!) environment–whether you consider they traditional or progressive. I know of many progressive school alumni who have continued on to traditional high schools/colleges who know how to get along with people from all walks of life, and who still exhibit that zeal for learning new things that was imbued in them by progressive schools 🙂 There will always be a period of adjustment during that jump from progressive to traditional, but that period of adjustment is to be expected and will definitely be overcome.”

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— Teacher Ani Almario, is the directress of The Raya School and the Product Development Officer of Adarna House, Inc.. She also has a Master of Arts in Education, Learning, Design and Technology from Stanford University. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Curriculum Studies in the University of the Philippines.

 

“I have observed that college students who come from progressive schools, are more relaxed, calm, and they are Survivors ! They are very independent , but at the same time can work 10951996_10152770604873823_2065163248_owith peers with collaboration and cooperation. Contrary to what others are saying, I find these students coping well in college life. In fact their coping skills are better than their classmates who come from traditional schools .”– Teacher Claudette Tandoc, a family life and child development specialist. She is a professor in De La Salle University Manila College of Education. She has led several trainings about various family and child issues and have served as a consultant to a number of schools in the country.

 

“American philosopher and educational reformist John Dewey said that “Education is not a preparation for life, but is life itself”. It is not really college that we are preparing our grade school and high school kids for. Rather, they are already expected to be applying now whatever they are learning in school, to their own families and homes, their community,  and eventually to the society. The outside world is not structured, rather, it is where individuals are “tested” on how to cope and survive using the values, knowledge, skills, talents and experiences that they have learned and imbibed.”

“There are more progressive early childhood centers compared with grade schools and highs schools in the Philippines. Some graduates of these preschools have “moved up” to traditional schools. Dr. Miriam Covar, retired Professor of the UP College of Home Economics, Dept of Family Life and Child Development conducted a study on this, and found no negative effects nor difficulties among students who transferred from a progressive school to a traditional setting.”

“On a personal note, for thirty years as an educator, I have observed that most graduates of progressive schools are happier, confident and well-adjusted individuals, who have smoothly adapted and complemented accordingly to any given situation and environment.”

10930866_10153675626109097_1841952962956262955_n— Teacher Carolyn Ronquillo, family life and child development specialist for thirty years. She spent most of these as a professor the University of the Philippines. She is currently an Associate  Professor, Dept of ECE, Woosong University, Daejeon, Republic of Korea; former Pre-Kindergarten Teacher, MarylandUSA and former Assoc Prof, UP Diliman. Founding President, Asia Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association (Philippine Chapter).

 

 

“Yes, it is true that most colleges if not all follow a traditional system but I really think that most parents miss this point- about being more concerned whether their child has this sustained interest and love for learning, has a good foundation in basic life skills (critical thinking, problem-solving, etc) and has developed a set of principles and values.”

“This where progressive schools come in. John Dewey (the best known proponent of Progressive Philosophy) explains that education is a “means for growth, activity, community building, reciprocity in teaching and learning, moral development and democracy).
Simply put, progressive education prepares a child for life because it enables a child to process information, rather than just memorise them; teaches a child to ask questions rather than to just say yes or no immediately; and it draws out the uniqueness of each child, rather than just letting him conform. It allows a child to understand his world by letting him experience things first-hand. It exposes a child to a community outside his family.”
“How can a child not be able to cope with a system if he has experienced learning in a meaningful way? All the more, parents should be confident that their child is ready to face a new environment (that is college) because he has been prepared to live more fully, to be proactive, to think outside the box, and to be sociable.”
 — Teacher Tanya Velasco, an early childhood educator. She graduated with a degree in Family Life and Child Development from UP Diliman and received her M.A. in Leadershi10828043_10152526495538161_4146389197665424114_op in Education from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, California. She has been in the field of preschool teaching for almost a decade now, and for the past 2 years, has found her love in teaching college students. She heads GURUFIRM, a training and consultancy firm on early childhood education, family life education and life-long learning.

Planning you child’s SPACE and TIME

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At my monthly guesting in Anthony Pangilinan’s Magbago Tayo, last Saturday, I invited Teacher Tanya Velasco of GuruFirm and author of the blog Chronicles of a Teacher Mom. She specializes in Infants and Toddlers and is also a Family Life and Child Development Specialist. We discussed how to plan a child’s environment (space and time) at home, based on how we do it in the classroom.

First the Physical Environment or SPACE. When mapping your child’s space, whether it be in his room, in the car, etc.. categorize the space by the following :

1. Map the space in specific and functional areas. We decentralize our classroom into different learning areas: a rest area, play area, activity area, reading area, etc. You can demarcate each space with furniture like a shelf or table, a mat with a distinct color or with a picture on what that area is.

Mapping your child’s space in areas will develop skills like: sorting, visual-spacing, and categorizing. He will also learn how to clean up independently because he knows where everything should go after using them.

2. Separate the quiet from the active space. Downtime is important in your child’s schedule so he needs a quiet place for activities like resting or reading. Current studies show that even adults are encouraged not to bring in work in the bedroom to improve sleep. In theP7020642 classroom, the rest area is far from the manipulatives or block area. The rest area can double as the reading area, though, because they are both quiet activities.

During the show last Saturday, one listener asked what if they live in a studio? You can still do it. Teacher Tanya had a great suggestion that an area can double as a play area by rolling out a mat to cue your child that it’s play time. Then when he needs to sleep already, the mat can be rolled back and tucked away for the same area to be the sleeping area.

Now let’s plan the temporal environment or your child’s TIME.

1. Plan the day into different routines. Like the physical space, you can map your child’s day into areas or routines. Sleeping, eating, playing, etc! When we plan our students’ class schedule , we have:

  • Free Play – a time when your child can explore anything he’s interested in. This is an important part of his schedule so you can observe what his favorite activities are. Do you want to totally eliminate the sentence “I’m bored!” from his vocabulary? Well, having free play strengthens his creativity in entertaining himself which sadly have been replaced by gadgets these days.
  • Circle Time – It’s a time for the members of the family to converse or bond! During circle time in the classroom, the teacher calls the students over to huddle and discuss what will happen in class. At home, you should carve time where you have intimate talks with your kids, regardless of age and preferably sans gadgets!
  • Activity Time – There are a lot of extra-curricular and curricular activities available for your child.. There’s sports, music, reading, writing, cooking, etc! Unfortunately, we tend to overschedule our child’s day but filling it with activities that your child may not be interested in. Observe his interests and talk to him on the activities that you will put on the schedule. If your child is too young, choose 1-2 activities from different domains like sports and cooking, art and ballet, etc. Try to see if she won’t be too tired for the classes and choose a time when she’s most awake like in the mornings. For older kids, zone in on their interests because the activities available for them can be pricey. If he’s enrolling in guitar class, purchase an inexpensive guitar first because he may switch instruments or drop his interest altogether.P6240428
  • Play Time – the most underrated block of time is play time. This is different from Rest Time because if you haven’t seen a child play, it is not restful!

2. Make use of Transitions. When moving from one routine to another, use transitions or prep them to move to the next routine. Teacher Tanya’s toddler Ellie knows when it’s time to pack away her toys and move to her rest time, because Teacher Tanya counts to 10 or sings a song that prompts Ellie. Young children find comfort in knowing what will happen next. The only reason a crying students stops crying from separation anxiety in school is because the routines and transitions are done consistently.

It’s interesting that while discussing this topic, we were able to also give tips to the parents as well! Planning your own SPACE and TIME as parents or teachers, is not so different from the points we talked about.

For more of Teacher Tina’s Parenting Tips, tune in to Magbago Tayo every Saturday at 8 am, Channel 59 and 92.3FM Radyo Singko.

 

MomSchool series by Mommy Mundo

Mommy Mundo, the go-to resource portal for active, modern moms in the Philippines, presents the first talk in its MomSchool series on March 21, 2015 (9:00 am – 12:00 nn) at The Forum, Fully Booked, Bonifacio High Street, Taguig City.

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I’m so excited to be part of it as I give tips on How to Find a School, Comparing Traditional and Progressive Schools and How to be a Partner to your Child’s Teacher. With me will be Ryce Calunsag of Learning Libraries who will be discussing How to Raise a Bilingual Child.

Participation is FREE! Please text 0908-865-7245 to register.

Hope to see all the followers of this blog so I can answer all your questions in person!

Teacher Tina’s Parenting Tips

After a year and a half in DZMM‘s Kapamilya Konek, I was invited by inspirational speaker Anthony Pangilinan to be a monthly guest and weekly contributor to his weekly Radyo5 show, “Magbago Tayo!”, a show that inspires change in all aspects of life.

As for my weekly contribution, the show has a short segment to present Teacher Tina’s Parenting Tips. As Family Life and Child Development specialists, teachers are not only experts in school but are advocates of the forging of parent-child relationships at home.

Since it was the week of the Chinese New Year, my tips were based on quotes from the movie Mulan (a favorite of my kids!) :

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These tips can be seen by watching “Magbago Tayo!” at TV5 Channel 59, can be heard in FM 92.3 every Saturday at 8:00 am and can be read on this blog 🙂

Looking for a progressive high school?

Raya High is the answer! One of the country’s premier progressive schools, The Raya School, led by power educators Ani Almario and CP David has finally decided to open a high school. Most progressive schools in Manila offer preschool and elementary levels only but they took the plunge and moved forward.. paving the way for all of us to follow suit in the future! That’s great news for most parents and progressive elementary schools whose graduates are looking for a similar learning environment. Teacher Ani spoke to the parents of our graduating class to share their philosophy and goals for Raya High and presented this diagram: The-Raya-Child-copyrightThey will start their high school in their current location at 109 Scout Fernandez, Quezon City and will eventually move to their new campus in Fairview, QC by 2017. For inquiries regarding Raya High, you can call the Raya School at 922.9254.

How the progressive approach can make you a better teacher..even if you teach in a traditional school!

Last week, we had another Progressive Early Childhood Education seminar up North. Before we speak with teachers, we get information on the school and how our approach can complement and not go against their existing curriculum. The approach and basic concepts of progressive education can help any teacher, regardless if their school is progressive or not. So teachers, listen up!

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1. Know your students. Progressive education is child-centered. However, most traditional schools usually have packaged curricula that need to be unpacked regardless of the developmental skills of the students. One size should fit all. In reality, not all the students can follow the same pace.

During the first weeks of class, try to make a short observation log for each student that not only contains basic information but also interests, strengths, and weaknesses that you observed. If you notice a student having hard time with your Math lesson plan, for example, suggest websites that offer free Math activities. They can do this when they get home.

I understand that most school teachers have more than 25 students in a class and this may be difficult to do. But trust me when I say that your teaching can actually become easier if you try to get to know your students more and prescribe ways to work on their weaknesses and highlight their strengths.

2. Make activities more experiential. “Think of your most vivid school memory, whether good or bad.” I asked this from our recently concluded teacher seminar and their replies confirmed John Dewey’s belief of experiential learning or learning through experiences. One teacher said, “I remember a poetry reading contest that I joined and I was supposed to read ‘O Captain, My Captain’. Since the role needed me to look poor, my parents made me dress up in a dirty dress and they washed coffee all over me to make me look dirty. I cried when I saw the other participants who were spankingly clean!! I turned to my parents and said ‘How can you dress me up this way?!’ I had no choice but to read my poem in dirty clothes. Lo and behold, I won the contest!”

I asked that teacher, “Who wrote ‘O Captain, My Captain’?” She answered, “Walt Whitman”. The poetry reading contest happened 10 years ago and not only did she remember the author, I can bet she can recite the whole poem still. Why? Because it was wrapped around the experience of joining that poetry contest.

Children learn through experience and they remember things that they are involved in. I then told that group of teachers, that they are now the memory-makers of their students. I hardly hear children say they remembered something because they studied for it in school. They remember things that they have experienced rather than things they’ve memorized.

3. Use themes close to the interest of the students. In our school, our teacher are keen observers and listeners. They usually know what their students are currently watching, reading, playing , eating, etc. because they engage in a lot of conversations with them. I had to watch through PowerPuff Girls, Barney all the way to today’s Sofia the First and Dora the Explorer; read The Hunger Games Trilogy and other young adult literature and listen to Taylor Swift‘s whole RED album, just to learn what they’re interested in! Once you know this, you can use these to deliver your lesson plan and voila, you will get their much coveted attention.

4. Unleash your creativity! Believe me when I say that all of us are creative. Check out your strength and use that to jumpstart your creativity in your teaching. If you are a teacher who can sing, find songs that you can change the lyrics to suit your lesson plan and sing to your students. If you can draw, why not have illustrations in your powerpoint that you yourself drew? Find new ways to deliver an otherwise boring lesson plan and , again, you will get your students’ much coveted attention.

5. Work with parents. Your students are members of basic family units that influence their beliefs, behavior and values. You will only meet the goals you set for your students if you partner up with the people they spend most of their time with.  Apart from the scheduled Parent-Teacher Conferences, try to have small chats with parents during drop-off and pick-up times.

**We would like to thank the preschool teachers and Bachelor of Elementary Education  students of First City Providential College for last week’s PRESCHOOL EDUCATION seminar! If you want us to talk to your teachers or parents, you can contact us at teachertinazamora(at)gmail(dot)com.

How an ‘Advanced Curriculum’ can actually ruin learning

This started out as a summary of progressivist John Dewey’s writing on Traditional VS Progressive Education entitled Experience and Education. But when I was writing it, I realized that each point needed their own post!

Let’s start with this:

“..to imposition from above is opposed expression and cultivation of individuality”

There are many schools known to impose skills and information that is not age-appropriate to their students. “It imposes adult standards, subject-matter, and methods upon those who are only growing slowly toward maturity. The gap is so great that the required subject-matter, the methods of learning and of behaving are foreign to the existing capacities of the young. They are beyond the reach of the experience the young learners already possess. Consequently, they must be imposed; even though good teachers will use devices of art to cover up the imposition so as to relieve it of obviously brutal features.” (Dewey, Experience and Education)

A lot of parents are hooked into this perceived “advancement” a lot of schools sell that their students will be taught skills way above their developmental capacity. I’ve seen moms pretending to gasp in disbelief, “Imagine they’re teaching Algebra in the 3rd grade!”** saying it with a secret smile of pride that their 8 year old is already finding the value of X.

What happens ? The students will either seem like geniuses for a short amount of time and forget everything they were taught OR they will be stressed in the process of learning all this information and hate school altogether.

You may say that in a class of 40 children, there are only a few who can’t cope with an advanced curriculum. They are then labelled several things: lazy, slow, or diagnosed instantly with Attention Deficit Disorder. The parents try to figure out what is wrong with their child when in fact, most of the time, it only comes with the burden of a curriculum way outside their developmental capacity.

The teachers are frustrated that their students just don’t get it. “Even though good teachers will use devices of art to cover up the imposition so as to relieve it of obviously brutal features.“, said Dewey. I have spoken to a lot of teachers who have no choice but to implement a lesson plan way above their class’ ability. They’re positive that the kids won’t get it. And yet they continue on and even make tests and exams that cover the impossible because it is in their job description to do so. Even the teachers are giving up!

So does this make the students who pass these advancements geniuses? Maybe. Definitely, there are children whose strength is the retention of information, critical thinking, etc. I believe that there are children who can be given advanced concepts. But it has to be determined if the student is having high grades because he totally understood the concepts, comprehended the topics OR just MEMORIZED the information. Because believe me, a lot of students get high grades from memorizing facts … and then completely forget about them a minute after the exam. So where’s the learning there?

I am also for the exposure of advanced concepts to students who are ready for it. Why not go the next level if a student is obviously ready to do so?  But what about the other students whose strength lies in the arts or sports?  Unfortunately, the current curricula of advancement focus only on the academic subjects such as Math and Science. The purpose of which is the filtering out of supposedly of “slow” students instead of aiming for every child to learn.

**This is an invented example. Heaven forbid there is such a school teaching Algebra in the third grade!

Hello to another journey in 2015!

The journey that was 2014 was long, hard and fruitful for me as a teacher. It opened up a lot of opportunities to be the teacher I always aspired to be. I am thankful enough to sit and list them down to give thanks and appreciation that by the grace of God, I was able to do all these in His name:

1. I think the most mileage I got to spread progressive education and family tips is when I co-anchored “Kapamilya Konek” in DZMM Teleradyo first with friend Maricel Laxa Pangilinan then with broadcaster Jing Castaneda. Now that I’ve decided to move on from the program, I can say that the experience awakened a part of me I never thought was inside me..being a broadcaster! Whoduthunk?! Although my husband always says it was perfect because I usually talked too much (haha), never did I think I would sit behind a booth and speak to thousands of people via radio and TV to talk about family issues!

The Kapamilya Konek team made a heart-warming farewell AVP that summed up my stay in the show 🙂

2. I had my almost TED-talk experience by speaking for HomegrownPH’s Women series. It’s hard to talk when you’re given only 12 minutes to talk about a topic I want to talk about the whole day, How to Educate GIRLS!

3. Our school, Nest, has grown into the progressive school I dreamed of having. Now on its 13th year, I believe our staff of teachers this year is the best we’ve ever had in terms of heart and talent! And this clearly shows in the students and families that they have taught during the year.

4. I, together with some Nest teachers, have been invited my several institutions to train them about progressive education and some have asked for us to help them out in their curriculum development. I’ve always said that I wanted to keep Nest as small as possible to maintain it being progressive and the this opportunity of sharing our knowledge to others was a surprise blessing and opportunity for us to spread the advocacy to other schools instead. Shoot us an email at teachertinazamora (at) gmail (dot) com, if you want us to visit your school or institution.

5. Another collaboration I did with fellow Family Life and Child Development Specialists is a site called Ask Teacher — a child development classroom for PARENTS who want to ask teachers help on their parenting concerns. You should drop by and see!

6. I added “columnist” to my list of descriptions by contributing to the magazine, Celebrity Mom. I write about current parenting and school issues. Faced with word counts and deadlines, my writing entered a whole new level! I think I should set the same minimums for this blog!

Celebrity Mom

7. This website! I have been in and out of this blog for years and yet a lot of visitors have passed and asked a lot of questions about progressive education.. enough to for me to revive it! Thanks for passing by and hope you learn a lot from it!

What’s in store for 2015 for me as a teacher? Hopefully a lot more opportunities like the ones on this list. I have a few projects on the line to become more involved with more schools, more teachers, more parents and of course, more students!