The Frog Blog

Thoughts from the Leapfrog Learning Center in Shrewsbury

Archive for the ‘Schools’ Category

Student “drop outs” have devastating consequences but “teacher drop outs” are equally problematic.  Time magazine reports America’s public schools now have 3.2 million teachers and 2.8 million will retire over the next seven years.  Finding replacements is complicated by the fact that 30% of all new public school teachers quit during their first three years on the job (50% in the first five years).  Low pay is part of the explanation but more important is the disillusionment from a system that simply does not work.  Failure guarantees low job satisfaction and little positive reinforcement.  Motivational programming is the solution because the mechanical process of teaching is totally different when children are enthusiastic and committed to learn.  Teacher drop out ratios will change dramatically if teachers are given the tools to succeed.  Recently, there has been growing support for holding teachers accountable for student performance.  People like Michelle Rhee in Washington have gotten considerable publicity for improving school performance by firing mediocre teachers.  Not surprisingly, this strategy has met with outrage from the teachers union.  Improving teacher quality is critical but the way to do this is by giving them a curriculum that works.  Pouring money into teachers’ salaries without overhauling what and how they teach will only prolong our failure syndrome.  Support from the teacher’s union is an essential part of educational reform.  This support can be ensured by making them an integral part of designing course material that is fun and stimulating for both teachers and students.

Visit the Leapfrog Learning Center to find a school that makes learning as fun for teachers as for students.

The transition into a new preschool can be a major trauma (for both children and mothers) especially if this is the first real  experience with separation.  There are lots of things that you can do to make the process easier.

Children are stressed by new situations when they don’t know what to expect.  You can help by talking about the school routine and stressing all the fun projects your child will get to do.  Talk about your own experience in preschool and all the new friends you made.  If your child starts in September, you should call your new preschool in the Summer and ask for names and phone numbers of other new families  in your child’s class  so that you can arrange “play dates”  before school starts (familiar faces will make transition much easier).  Get some bedtime stories that deal with starting a new school (“the Kissing Hand,” “Wow school,” “Oh My Baby Little One,” “What to Expect at Preschool,” and “I Don’t Want to go to School”) and read them together.  Do some role playing activities together that mimic the school routine (put some “soft toy” animals in a circle and pretend to do circle time … take the soft toys to the kitchen table and have snack, etc).  Talk about what you will do (boring stuff) while your child is in preschool and what you will do togethre after you pick him/her up.

The other (often unspoken) factor that makes kids apprehensive about preschool is the fear of abandonment.  When your child sees you leave, he may (secretly) worry that he will never see you again.  When you leave your child home with a babysitter, he knows you are coming back because he is in the house where you live.  Leaving him in a strange environment (school) is different.  If your child is particularly nervous, you may need do separation in gentle stages.  What you are trying to do is establish a pattern … Mom leaves but she comes back … Mom leaves but she comes back.  In the first week of school plan to stay but leave for brief periods so your child gets used to your absence.  Gradually make your absences longer and longer.  As your child starts to get to know the teacher and other children, they should start to feel more comfortable and secure.  At some point, it may be necessary to leave your child crying.  Usually these tears are manipulative and stop as soon as you are out the door.  A good preschool will encourage you to call back periodically during the morning to give you status reports on how your child is doing.

At Leapfrog our top priority is to ensure that kids not start with a trauma.  We run orientation programs just before the new school year.  New children are invited for two or three  separate one hour visits.  There is no separation anxiety because Mom stays.  These visits give children a chance to get to know the teacher before school starts and see some of the fun activities they will do in school.  We strive to work in close partnership with parents to make the transition into Leapfrog as stress free as possible.

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