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|The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine|
December 26, 2012
Phonics for Kids Who Won't Sit Still
Deborah Wuehler and family
How do you teach a child phonics if he won't sit still? If they are very young (ages 4-5) you might wait a few months to a year and try again. Small children are made to wiggle and move and play and actually learn a lot while they are at it. If they are not physically ready to sit still for a few minutes, they may not be ready to learn phonics.
If they are older (ages 6-8) and do not sit still, then you may have to teach phonics in a more hands-on, creative way. They can learn phonograms while doing something else at the same time. It actually helps them to listen and understand better. If they are concentrating and using all their energy to sit still, their learning gates may not be able to take anything more in. (We have two great articles on teaching fidgety kids in our new 2013 print issue here!)
Physical movement is a critical part of learning. Don't think of it as a disruption, but as a vital part of the process. My assistant, Heather Mader, found information here about the subject:
- stimulates a process called myelinization that is critical to developing neural pathways, allowing young children to gain control over their muscles, sensory abilities, and cognitive processes.
- optimizes brain performance by helping delivery of oxygen and glucose to the brain.
Heather also learned from therapy that plenty of cross-lateral types of movements (where the opposite arm moves at the same time as the opposite leg) will strengthen bilateral integration. Walking or hiking with arms swinging, swimming the various strokes, rock climbing, and playing tennis will all strengthen bilateral integration.
To help teach phonics, Heather taught her children to associate letters and formation of letters with particular movements or picture ideas (for instance "M" can be represented by two mountain peaks with a valley in between. The letter "M" is the first sound one hears when saying the word "mountains." The letter "K" could be made to look like a king with a crown.) Children can draw the letters in sand or shaving cream while saying the sounds and relating the sounds to a story about that letter.
We all need to let our children know that we love them unconditionally. As Heather says, "to love them for who they are and not for what they do--just like God loves us." This encourages them to work with you and overcome any challenge that comes their way.
Our children need to know that we are with them. And that means physically as well. We can't always hand them a workbook and hope they learn something. Often we need to be there for them while joyfully teaching them. We hope they will catch our joy and know our care.
Since sitting still seems to be the opposite of what young children naturally do, we are blessed to be able to work with that natural gift of learning as we keep them Home Where They Belong.
TOS Senior Editor
Still, Quiet Success
No matter how many times we say "Sit still and be quiet," what really counts is when children say it to themselves. Help them practice quiet skills with the following exercises.
Activity One--15 minutes
- Seat them around a table in boy, girl, boy, order.
- Do introductions, asking each one to assume the name of a historical or literary character like, Peter Pan or Amelia Earhart.
- Serve everyone a snack and while they eat, let each one take a turn asking another character, one question like, "Did you fly here today?" (as the others listen quietly.)
Clear the table and excuse the group.
Activity Two--20 minutes
- This time, boys will escort the girls to their seats, and then seat themselves in boy, girl, boy, order.
- Recalling other's character names from the last meeting, each in turn will introduce himself to the group and then introduce the characters to his right and left.
- Serve a snack along with pencils and paper. Ask the group to draw the table and quietly, from memory, write each person's name in the correct place around it. They may write the real names and/or character names, sounding them out phonetically if necessary. (Ask pre-schoolers to simply draw the people around the table.)
Clear the table and excuse the group.
The object of these exercises is to teach children a little self-discipline, some memory skills, and social skills in the company of others while practicing the art of conversation. Participants soon learn that success often means knowing when to be quiet.
Godly Families love this practical and natural approach to etiquette training. Etiquette Lessons reinforces students' good manners, adding nuances of fine dining etiquette, protocol, and the art of conversation. This worthy program for the new year includes twelve lessons plus an awards presentation program. Consider a year of Etiquette Lessons with the Classroom Starter Kit.
The Classroom Starter Kit includes: The teacher's Etiquette Lessons Book Set (2 volumes) and Etiquette Lessons Quiz Book, Beginning Ballroom Music CD, 12 Student workbooks (for use in class), and 12 Student Achievement Certificates--28 items for $195. Our best value! To order, please visit: www.etiquettelessons.com
Well, here we are, well feasted and well familied. I hope your Christmas was richly relational . . . and that you feel the freedom to enjoy this break between Christmas and New Year's. Do something spectacularly fun for yourself (even if that means just taking a nap)!
I think I'll take a lesson from Todd Wilson now--since you are enjoying your well-earned break--and encourage you to focus on the children who won't sit still, not on phonics. What on earth do we do with those kids who seem to constantly fidget and bounce and roll and jump and run and dance? Prepare yourself, because this might seem simplistic. The answer to the question of dealing with kids who won't sit still is: Let them move!!
Goodness, why didn't I think of that?
It took years of having a tree-climbing, hall-running, constantly-in-motion child before I finally realized that trying to force him into the sit-down-and-don't-move-while-you-study mold was utterly worthless. He didn't learn, we didn't enjoy our efforts, and I was weary of trying to hold back the irrepressible energy of youth.
What was astonishing to me was the change that happened when, instead of trying to hold back that energy, I began to harness it. When we encouraged Michael to move, when we gave opportunities to express what he was learning through action, when I opened the door to physical exercise (at least a few times during the day), he began to thrive. Thrive!
Isn't that amazing? When we work with the natural gifts of our children (God is the one who wired some to be movers and shakers, while others are speakers and makers), everything begins to work together for good.
So, in a sense, that is the answer to today's topic. However it makes sense in your situation, with your children, let them learn while moving, bouncing, jumping, dancing, running, tumbling, rolling, throwing, drawing, singing, acting, painting, and on and on. Enjoy the ride!
Remember, stay relational!
Raising Real Men
Hal & Melanie Young
Kids who won't sit still? We have six boys-what do you think? Actually, we have two wiggly little girls, too. That's one of the wonderful things about homeschooling, our children don't have to sit still in a desk to learn.
We still remember the first article we read about homeschooling nearly thirty years ago. There was a picture of three or four little children sitting in a row of desks in someone's den and the mother was up at the chalkboard(!) teaching. I think that's the way a lot of us who were institutionally schooled (in public or private brick and mortar schools) imagine homeschooling is going to look like. Instead, it's much more casual, natural, and comfortable.
That's a good thing for little boys. God made boys active and energetic because one day they are going to have to work hard to support their families, then come home and still have the energy to lead their families, work in their churches, and influence their communities. Sometimes just sitting still takes all the concentration they have--what's left to learn with?
You can teach a boy like that, though, if you get a little creative! Ruth Beechick gave some sound advice in her booklets, The Three R's. She said to get them up and moving and using their muscles while learning. I don't know if she knew it, but research has shown that little boys actually learn better when they've used their big muscles. So, how can you do that?
Use a whiteboard and write the letters BIG. This gets your child on his feet and moving big muscles. One of our friends bought a huge piece of tempered hardboard (in the paneling section at the Home Owners' Hades store) and mounted it in the kitchen, but even a regular whiteboard a couple of feet high will help.
Play "Mother May I?" with letter sounds. "What does A say?" "<a>" "That's right! Take two kangaroo jumps!" "Mother may I?" "Yes, you may!" You can even skip the "Mother may I?" part, or reward them with a treat, or snack, or activity when they reach a certain distance.
Make it fun and don't get stressed. You don't want you or the children to burn out on school this early. Learning to read can be a wonderful thing, don't get all OCD about it. :)
If he's not ready, take it easy. Typically, if some days they know the letter's sound and on others, it's like they've never seen it before, they aren't ready yet. Some children will read at four and others at eleven, and it says nothing about their intelligence at all. Thomas Edison was a very late reader.
You probably ought not to be thinking about school this week, anyway. Take some time off. Put your feet up. Read to your children or help them put together those models they got for Christmas. Go out and throw the football with them. Life is so short and your children are growing up fast. Have a good time with them this week. That's what we hope to do!
Happy New Year!
Hal & Melanie
P.S. Hear us speak in just a few weeks at the Exploring Homeschool Conference in Anaheim, CA. In February, we're speaking in Sasketchewan, at the SHBE Conference. We're driving from North Carolina up there, so if you live anywhere sort of between the two (much of the U.S.!) and would like us to stop over and speak, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to meet you!
Living and Learning Together
on God's Path of Life
with Clay and Sally Clarkson
Clay Clarkson is the Director of Whole Heart Ministries, a non-profit family ministry he founded with Sally in 1994 to encourage and equip Christian parents. He is the author of numerous Christian home and parenting books and resources, including Educating the WholeHearted Child, Our 24 Family Ways, and Heartfelt Discipline. He writes online at WholeHeart.org, Disciplinology.com, PiecesofClay.com, and for others.
Sally Clarkson is the mother of four wholehearted children, a conference speaker, and author of numerous books, including The Mission of Motherhood, The Ministry of Motherhood, Seasons of a Mother's Heart, and The Mom Walk. Clay and Sally live in Monument, Colorado and have homeschooled their four children from the beginning.
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Creation Revolution has two articles for you this week!
"How much do you know about the true meaning Christmas? Do you know why Jesus was born in Bethlehem?" Read more in the article How Much Do Americans Know About Christmas?
"They look at molecules and form proteins, enzymes, acids, bases, and organic compounds to be the progenitors of life." Read more in the article Looking for Origins in All the Wrong Places.
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Read the article
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The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.
For the month of December, 2012
The Only True God . . . Knowing the God of the Bible (from the Quest series)
Part of the Quest series of the Explorer's Bible Study company, The Only True God . . . Knowing the God of the Bible is a 30-week Bible study aimed at Jr. and Sr. High students. The consumable workbook starts out with a note to parents and teachers, a note to the students themselves, and an introduction of the topic. The format of the daily lessons is explained and hints and suggestions, such as keeping a Bible journal and to pray as they study, are offered as well.
Each lesson is broken down into five days, with day one always including a review of what was previously learned. Throughout the week, there are memory verses, daily questions, and lesson notes. One of the sessions focuses on personal application, although the day varies. Day five ends with the student reading prepared notes about the lesson. That text includes vocabulary, explanations of why certain things were studied or referenced in that particular lesson, and a general summary of the week. Lesson 30, the "final exam," so to speak, is a fill-in-the-blank review of the entire book. Once completed, the soft-covered book is a keepsake reference book for years to come.
Read the rest of this review here.
Email Heather with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line, "Bible Study" for a chance to win* the book for your homeschool!