Tips, Tricks, & Freebies
We hope this blog will be an invaluable resource for you.
Tips, Tricks, & Freebies
We hope this blog will be an invaluable resource for you.
August 3, 2020, will be our opening day of classes! As we are "soft-launching" our website, all of the classes listed are for August only. On August 15th, classes for September-December and January-June will be announced and available for students to sign-up for.
If there's a class your student wants to take, but he or she needs to take it at a different time, please write to us and let us know. Likely, we can make arrangements in our schedule to make that a reality. Please also take our survey and let us know the entirety of courses your family would be interested in.
ALDEA Online School is really excited to be able to offer a 6,000 English book digital library that has a growing selection of texts in Spanish as well. Learn more about the library and sign up!
"One of the first essentials for any adult who wishes to help small children is to learn to respect the different rhythm of their lives instead of trying to speed it up, in the vain hope of making it synchronize with ours."
COVID-19 and quarantine have thrown all of our normal routines out the window. The norm has become the unknown. As adults, we are navigating this new normal, and it’s a struggle at times. Kids are certainly more flexible, but helping them establish a routine in this new normal is critical.
Kids fear the unknown. A lack of routine can be stressful. Predictable routines help children feel safe, stable, and calm within a structure, because they know what to expect. This usually results in fewer tantrums and outbursts. Children can adapt to most changes quite easily if their routine remains familiar.
Routines help children understand what’s important in your family. Daily routines can help children develop important habits: basic hygiene, self-care, self-control, responsibility, and independence. Most importantly, they help children develop healthy habits, self-discipline, and time management.
All of these skills are part of knowing limits and boundaries. Boundaries affect our happiness, energy levels, and self-concept. When children understand the expectations (the boundaries), you can begin to have fewer power struggles because they will take pride in knowing what they’re supposed to do. This kind of empowerment encourages confidence and independence.
A routine will help your child understand how to balance fun tasks like play and practical life tasks like brushing their teeth.
So, where do you start?
Start with remembering the number one rule with children: flexibility. Spontaneity and creativity are born from flexibility. Before anything, remember to stay adaptable, so the routine doesn’t become a rigid chore. Your goal here is independence, not control. It may take time, but remain patient.
Next, set important times: meals, snacks, naps, and bedtime. Each of these affect how your child will sleep, so they’re important to consider.
Third, create moments for connecting with your child throughout the day: reading books together before bed, a special morning song, a celebration of their good choices during a meal.
We’re here to help!
ALDEA Online School’s founder is a mom herself. She knew that she’d need to be working and teaching, and without help, her four year old needed to be able to spend her days engaged in more than just television.
As a result, Miss Catherine created these visual charts for her daughter: one for the morning routine, one for daily activities, and one for night routines. They’ve been wonderful additions, and she’s sharing them with other parents for free.
The morning and night routine charts speak for themselves. The daily activities routine is actually less of a routine and more of a checking mechanism. Miss Catherine allows her daughter to choose the order she does her activities and to choose what activities she does for each. For example, sometimes math is using her counting material, but other times, it is practicing writing numbers or doing a number puzzle.
At times, suggestions for activities are necessary, and Miss Catherine usually aims to offer two choices. “You can do _____, or you can do _____. Your choice.” Framed like this, her child is empowered to control her time and her choices. Certainly, there is sometimes push back, and Miss Catherine will either repeat the choices calmly or suggest she chooses an alternative focus from the daily routine chart.
The most important element is this: the daily routine chart is more of a checklist. Before the television is allowed, each task on the chart is done. If the child says, “Everything is done,” the chart allows parent and child to go over the list and have the child say what they did for each activity. Miss Catherine says, “Tell me what you explored in science,” and if her child didn’t do science, she will usually admit it and go choose a science activity.
This process is repeated until the list is complete. Certainly, it helps that we have a number of relevant educational materials at home that she can work with, and later blog posts will make recommendations for material that can be bought or made.
During quarantine, we have an unique opportunity to teach our children in ways that go well beyond math or any school subject. Focusing on achieving a goal can help give purpose to what is otherwise a rather strange moment in history.
Setting a goal is the first step in achieving a goal. Without the mindset and knowledge of what you’re working towards, it’s hard to stay focused and achieve.
We’ve all been there: feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day to achieve our goals. Yet, some people seem to achieve so much with the same amount of time. Quarantine has been ongoing for nearly four months now. You wouldn’t be alone if you haven’t used the time you’d always said you needed to do “x.” Perhaps the difference doesn't come down to time--but to focus.
Focusing on a goal makes time management so much easier, and when it comes to our children, helping them set and achieve goals is a critical skill we all want them to master. Yes, time management is part of that, but you can have the best time management skills in the world and still not reach a goal if you don’t have a focus.
Setting a goal and working towards it—a little each day—teaches our children the trait of perseverance. Perseverance is the ability to keep doing something despite obstacles. Without it, no matter how smart or talented a child is, they may not reach his or her goal.
Many years ago, Miss Catherine had a student who struggled with math. During the meeting with the parents, a parent said, “But why does she need math anyway?” The simple answer was that math is everywhere in life, but the more complex answer is that working hard to master difficult concepts taught her daughter to persevere. The student didn’t get an A+ in the class, but she certainly learned to persevere and gained relative success in the process.
The Most Important Character Trait
Perseverance is one of the most important character traits a child can learn, and learning it begins when they’re young. Everytime your child says, “I can do it myself,” they’re practicing the trait (as inconvenient as that might be when you’re running late and they insist on zipping their own zipper). Parents make endless decisions each day about these little things that end up shaping the character traits of their children.
None of us are perfect, certainly, but the more mindful we are about which traits we want to cultivate—the more likely we will be to cultivate them. This is one side of setting goals. What character traits do you hope your human will embody?
Generosity, Integrity, Loyalty, Devotion, Loving, Kindness, Sincerity, Self-control, Peaceful, Patience, Determination, Persistence, Adventurous, Fairness, Cooperative, Tolerance, Optimism, Confidence, Ambitious, Resourceful, Charisma, Enthusiasm, Bold, Courageous, Reliable, Brave, Daring, Wittiness, Affection, Honest, Compassionate, Hard-working, Independent, Responsible, Humble, Thoughtful, Friendly, Open-minded, Inventive, Diligent
This list of character traits are in no particular order (and certainly not complete), but it’s from a list that Miss Catherine refers to when she’s been asked to write a letter of recommendation for a particular student. No student ever embodies all of these traits, but the most successful, confident students embody quite a number of them.
The Perfect Parent Doesn’t Exist
The last thing this post intends to do is pile on the guilt or the workload that comes with parenting. Far from that, it proposes a thought exercise. Look at the list above: which traits does your child naturally have? Separate from your child, which three traits are most important to you? Reflect: are there moments your current routine where you can reinforce the positive traits in your child? Where you can notice your child acting as a certain trait and tell them?
For example, if you want your child to be more patient (and we all do), you might notice even the smallest improvement in patience and say, “Thank you for being patient.” Next time, say, “Wow, you’re being so patient. Thank you.” Notice and name the traits where your child needs to grow or that he or she is exhibiting, and your child will respond well.
Remember that we all become who we are told we are. A child who is told he or she is “smart and kind and brave” on a semi-daily basis will start to repeat, “I am smart, kind, and brave.”
This works miracles in a classroom of thirty, and it will work in a home with just one child.
In her classroom, Miss Catherine never asked the children to be quiet (well, after she learned this trick). She simply stood in the front of the class and said quietly to whoever caught her eye, “Thank you, (name).” As each student noticed, they became quiet and were thanked for the behavior she wanted to see. As the year went on, all she needed to do was stand in front of the class, and students would mostly quiet themselves and give their attention quite quickly.
This was as true of the most difficult class as it was with the easiest. The only difference was that it took a lot more time and patience with the more difficult class. The best trick with the loudest class (or kids) is to talk quieter: “If you hear me, look at me. (pause) Thank you, (name).” People grow faster when they are appreciated and seen. If you have a goal for your small human, recognize their progress to reinforce the behavior.
Focus on a Growth Mindset
This kind of goal setting comes down to a belief that BRAINS CAN GROW. People, especially kids, can grow and change. Teach your child goal-setting and the perseverance required as part of a larger life lesson about growth.
A growth mindset is a core life philosophy that says, “If I work hard, I can improve.” It’s a belief that intelligence can be developed. A growth mindset thrives on challenge and sees failure as an opportunity to learn. Perseverance is a core trait for cultivating a growth mindset.
Research shows that the views children adopt for themselves (a growth mindset or a fixed mindset) will profoundly affect the rest of their lives. (No pressure!) Imagine believing you can change your brain; it makes it easy to believe you can transform your life.
So, how do you do that? The easiest way is to choose one means of praise and use it often instead of praising brains. “You are working so hard!” teaches a child that’s the valuable trait. Next, choose one mantra response to feelings of inadequacy. “Mistakes are how we learn” is a powerful one that’s applicable in so many scenarios. Once you master that, practice reflection questions.
All children can and should be emboldened to learn to take responsibility for their behaviors and learning as well as to believe in their abilities. Help them set and achieve reasonable goals.
Set Goals with Your Child
It’s easier than it sounds. Here’s a simple formula to follow: WOOP: Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan.
The pro-tip in all of this is: write it down (WOOP: Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan). Depending on your child’s age (and fortitude or aptitude towards perseverance), you might be wise to help them set a very achievable goal and work towards more complex ones. Refer back to the plan.
Help your kids to find a struggle towards success. Some goals will take days, and others may take years of work. In the end, perseverance is the ultimate goal...along with responsibility, time management, self-confidence, and resilience.
Help them set goals and focus and persevere. Your child will reach their goal...and you will reach one of yours. Character building isn’t easy, but it’s worth it—especially in these times of quarantine.
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