Struggling student? Maybe he’s sleepy!

September 27, 2010

Researcher: Daniel Willingham, University of Virginia

Question: “If you could magically make parents do ONE thing this coming school year to support their child, what would it be?”

Answer: Sleep!

Why?: The consequences of sleep deprivation can be harsh: depression, anxiety, inattention, conduct problems, drug and alcohol abuse and impaired cognitive functioning. Sleep deprivation also affects emotional regulation; a mother can tell when her child is tired just by how easily she gets irritated.

Read more!


Summer: A Time for Fun Learning

July 19, 2010

Summer is here… and the school year is around the corner!

Parents with young children are thinking about ways to entertain their little bundles of energy. Readers of this blog already know the importance of summer learning; kids who are not engaged during the summer fall behind academically. We also know that, while technology plays an important part in education today, unsupervised use of the computer at home negatively affects test scores at school.

The kids have to be engaged, but not on the computer (unless it’s supervised and timed), and we all know, the TV is out! What do parents do???

Here are some helpful suggestions  from Kid Source Online

Make a HISTORY TIME LINE — Record history at home. Stretch a roll of shelf paper along the floor. Use a ruler to make a line about three feet long. (Use a separate sheet for each child.) Ask your children to fill in the important dates in their own lives, starting with their birth. Those familiar with U.S. history can fill in major dates since the founding of our country. Display these finished time lines in a special place for all to see.

Create PICTURE STORIES — Develop imagination and creativity. Have your children select four or five pictures from magazines and newspapers, and put them together to tell a story. Ask your children to number the pictures — 1,2,3, etc. First, ask them to tell the story with the pictures in numerical order. For variety, have your children rearrange the pictures and tell a new story using this different arrangement.

More ideas from Suite 101

  • Plant a garden or start a compost – Learn about planning, measuring, botany and about the environment.
  • Bake and cook together – Learn about fractions and nutrition.
  • Build something out of wood (table, butterfly house or sculpture) – Teaches planning, designing, measuring and building.
  • Child planned trip – Make a trip or outing educational by having the child plan the itinerary, budget and route.
  • Make a scrapbook or journal of an outing (whether it is a day or week) – Teaches observation and record keeping in different mediums.
  • Educational websites – Limit computer time, and encourage sites that engage the mind.

Enjoy your summer!

Summer: A Time for Fun Learning

August 13, 2009
Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers

Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers

In his latest book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell discusses education in the United States. He refers to a researcher from Johns Hopkins who found that students from inner-city public schools actually outlearn their wealthy peers during the school year, but then fall behind during the summer vacation. He goes on to explain that while poorer students are left to their own devices over the summer (while their parents work long hours to provide for the family), privileged children spend their summers participating in activities, academic or otherwise, under the close supervision of their parents, nannies or camp counselors; in other words, the children who spend the summer “productively” continue to learn over the summer. Gladwell also describes a school in a low socio-economic area where students have a much shorter summer break (among other expectations, such as a rigorous curriculum and a strict school schedule), resulting in high academic achievement. Gladwell suggests that in order to help poor students do better in school, summer vacations should be shortened.


These findings also have implications for children growing up abroad. Parents may want to take a close look at the length of vacation time and how an expat child utilizes those precious weeks or months. Think about summer schools or camps, as they may provide opportunities to explore or develop comprehensive skills in music, theater, art or sports, in a way that a smaller international or local host schools may not offer. Finding summer schools or camps may be difficult overseas, but certainly available through-out the United States.

Expatriates definitely have great opportunities for cultural experiences, and summers and winter breaks are a fantastic times to explore the host country and neighboring areas. Parents might try to think of the trip as more than a vacation (sunbathing by the beach) and consider a few engaging activities for the children. A trip to a museum or ancient city might be the typical “educational” experience but there many more fun ways to continue learning through the summer, even on vacation.

Here are a few great ideas:

  • Learning the local language
  • Read the local newspaper
  • Read a book by a local author
  • Cook a traditional meal
  • Participate in a local tradition
  • Learn a local art form (for instance, West African drumming or Bharatanatyam dancing in India)
  • Visit the local zoo or a wildlife reserve
    The Bangkok Post, featuring the King and Queen

    The Bangkok Post, featuring the King and Queen