News, resources, and links to help educators and home schoolers improve academic achievement.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Back-to-School Basics

The first few weeks of school set the tone for the rest of the school year.  Educators and homeschool parents alike need to establish a clear set of rules and boundaries for their students.  In many ways, public school teachers have a greater challenge than homeschoolers, including: 

  • The ratio of students to teachers is generally much greater in public schools.
  • Teachers in public (and private) schools may have difficult or negative co-workers to contend with.
  • Public school teachers in general have more students with emotional needs.
  • Students with behavioral problems are a distraction.
It's so important for students to understand the basics before they can move on to other higher-level concepts. But, in order to teach them, you must first reach them.  For public school teachers, this means getting to know your students, so you can understand their needs.  A first grade teacher might have students draw a picture of their family and pets, labeling each family member -- an art activity that can give the teacher great insight into the family dynamics. A junior high teacher might start off the school year by having each student choose another student in the classroom and write a short description about them, including what their talents and interests are.  If they are new to the school, and do not know much about their classmates, they can write a few sentences about how they feel about moving to the new school. This activity will serve as a way to assess writing skills and to learn a little bit more about the students.

Regardless of the setting, engaging students is key to helping them grasp basic concepts that will be used as building blocks for future learning.  If they decide early on that learning can be interesting and fun, it will open up a whole new world for them.  If you teach history, have the students act out an important event.  If you teach math, have the students apply their math skills by solving real-life scenarios, like determining how many liters of drinks and how many ounces of chips it will take to treat the entire class to snacks on Friday.  Use interactive games like Multiple Madness® to improve basic math skills like multiplication.  Use journaling in science class and art in reading class.  

Whatever you do, don't allow stress to affect your performance as an educator.  Aside from taking time for yourself... and occasionally counting to ten before you react or respond... there are tons of online resources to make this a successful school year!  Check out our link to free teacher resources, and feel free to add your favorite links in the comments section of our blog.  Share your favorite teaching tips, concerns or hot topics on our Facebook page.

"Out of this world" reading experience

Teachers playing Multiple Madness

Students playing Multiple Madness