Creative teaching methods are here to stay, but so should proper grammar, multiplication tables and knowing that Salem is the capital of Oregon.
Did you know April 18th is National Wear Your Pajama’s to Work Day?
When did creative teaching evolve into all of these “theme” days that cause parents to run out and purchase colored hair sprays, special clothing or prepare humongous amounts of food that represents a specific culture or period of history become part of the educational experience?
From the creative teaching prospective, themes such as “Crazy Hair Day” or “Pajama Day” are a fun way to unite the student body.
It may also be a way to defuse the anxiety of mandated testing; thus, some districts schedule theme days around particularly busy times of the year, such as state testing, finals or midterms.
Other creative teaching themes tie directly into the curriculum: Black History or Women’s History Month, National Nutrition Month or even Colonial Day.
Yet, some schools even celebrate the 100th Day of School, as if anyone but the administrators are counting!
In further searches I found suggestions to celebrate Acorn, Apple, Butterfly, Chameleon, Dolphin, Egg and Frog days, as well as the well know Arbor, Earth and Flag days. My two favorite days, which I plan to celebrate from this day forward, are Cookie Day and Chocolate Day, for obvious reasons.
As parents, we should commend any attempt to get our children excited about learning.
However, it does make you stop and wonder. Why do our children need these types of creative teaching methods to stimulate and motivate them?
Creative teaching with the assistance of multi-media has existed for many years.
Before white boards, computers and DVDs there were VHS, overhead and slide projectors and even filmstrips.
Yet, teachers did not have to serve as entertainers to gain the attention of the classroom.
They had to teach reading, math, world history and science. Music, art and physical education were weekly push-ins, a relief from the daily rigors of the three R’s.
Today’s creative teaching methods must stimulate a child who grew up with talking billboards, video games, Netflix and computers.
Lessons must be broken down to match the shortened attention span of most of our children. Lost in the excitement of Ice Cream Day, Kite Day, and Ladybug Day is Long Division Day, National Noun Day, Learn to Write Script Day and State Capitals Day. These are all basic skills that are quickly disappearing from our children’s academic curriculum.
So how do we prepare our children for the real world of balancing checkbooks, developing a cover letter and writing a thank you note?
As parents, we must de-emphasize technology as an creative teaching tool; if they are to compete in the work place as adults, our children must return to using a pen and paper to practice the three “R’s” every day.
Here are four creative teaching ideas that can strengthen your child’s foundational skills (you can do most of them while wearing pajamas, or marking National Popcorn, Cheese Doodle or Potato Chip Day):
- Use math in the real world
Allow you child to estimate the cost of a small basket of groceries and see how close he comes. Next time you go to the store, bring along a little note pad. Have you child write down the cost of each item and estimate how much the entire purchase will cost. If you are paying in cash, have him or her tell you which bills you need and how much change to expect.
- Write down all reports, even if typing is okay
Regardless of the age of the child, do not allow him or her to write a book report or term paper, solely on the computer. Younger children should write a first draft, re-write the revised second draft and then, if permitted by the teacher, assist or allow them to type the final draft: as is.
Tell your child to read aloud the typed copy, further ensuring there are no errors. Typing a report directly into a computer will prevent your child from recognizing the misuse of word such as there, their and they’re or here and hear.
- Listen to Miss Manners
Insist that your child handwrite all thank you notes. Provide a sample copy of a note, and extra copies of blank cards, but avoid the temptation of computer generated or fill-in the blank note-cards.
The person providing the gift will appreciate a personalized letter from your child; in addition, there are few opportunities to practice penmanship. Let your child know how important it is to do the right (and write) thing!
- Use the computer to enhance the classroom
The internet is a blessing and a curse. It is a huge distraction for our children but parents can use it as resource for augmenting the teacher. There is a huge supply of worksheets to help you child with math, grammar, punctuation, cursive writing and map skills.
Many bookstores and chain stores have a selection of workbooks as well. For younger children establish a reward system as an incentive for completing a predetermined number of lessons.
Creative teaching methods including blue hair, footie pajamas and silly hats are here to stay, but so should proper grammar, multiplication tables and knowing that Salem is the capital of Oregon.