Writing: Storytelling on a Page

storytelling

Storytelling is a key building block for developing writing skills in young children.


The common cry a parent is sure to hear from their child at one time or another is, “I have to write about what I did over the summer and I don’t know what to say. I hate writing! I can’t write.”! Translation…I am not comfortable writing.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t prepare our children to write the way we prepare them to know the alphabet, to count and to develop other learning skills during their preschool and kindergarten years. Yet, writing is a skill that most of us will need and use for the rest of our lives. Being comfortable writing and writing well is critical to our academic and employment success.

I am not talking about grammar, punctuation or understanding sentence structure. These skills will be taught in school. I refer to the ability to describe something on paper that was seen, heard, read or told about.

It’s about storytelling.

Not just the stories you read to your child from a book but the storytelling that comes from sharing family history or events or making up stories about everyday activities as you spend time with your child. While being read to captures a child’s interest, expands his/her knowledge and fosters creative thinking, which are all building blocks of writing skills, the ability to tell and write a story must be practiced like any other skill.

Most of my life I’ve earned an income from writing…a biography, articles, technical writing, reports, recipes, programs for children, grants,web content and blogging. I owe my comfort and enjoyment of writing to my extended family. By the time I was two years old, my godmother and grandparents were telling me stories and helping me to tell stories about the things I saw when out walking or visiting with them. Even before I could write, they encouraged me to tell them stories and they wrote them down for me. Then the stories were scotch taped to their refrigerator for all to read. I couldn’t wait until I had the skills to write my own stories. It was all the motivation I needed to learn the alphabet and begin writing.

There is no more undivided attention a child can have than time spent with an adult or older sibling exploring something new, talking about it, making up a story about it. It can be as simple as a trip to the supermarket, a walk in the park, helping to wash the family car or assisting in preparing a meal.

As important as talking about what you see or hear or are doing is guiding your child through making up a story about what he or she is seeing or doing. At first, you will need to ask your child questions to trigger storytelling. After awhile that won’t be necessary.

Storytelling is a family affair and one that offers a role for grandparents and other relatives. Photo albums, attics full of stuff, and scrapbooks are just some of the things that can spark stories. Recording the story is a critical part of the process. Being able to look at and refer to his or her story, in writing, builds a child’s confidence and establishes a comfort level about writing.

If a child can view writing as storytelling on a page, be it paper or computer, he or she is on track for enjoying and not dreading writing.

School Bus Safety

bus

The following tips come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, www.nhtsa.gov, reminding us that young children need frequent reviews about bus safety and bus behavior. Children need to know the Danger Zone, which is the area on all sides of the bus where children are in the most danger of being hit. Officials from nhtsa suggest:

REVIEWING HOW TO GET ON AND OFF THE BUS SAFELY:

  • When getting on the bus, stay away from the danger zone and wait for the driver’s signal
  • Board the bus one at a time
  • When getting off the bus, look before stepping off the bus to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder (side of the road) and move away from the bus
  • Stay ten feet away from the bus and never go behind the behind the bus
  • Before crossing the street, take five “giant steps” out from the front of the bus, or until you can see the driver’s face, then  wait for the driver to signal that it’s safe to cross
  • Look left-right-left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped and keep watching traffic when crossing

TAKE THE FOLLOWING BUS SAFETY STEPS:

  • Supervise children to make sure they get to the stop on time, wait far away from the road, and avoid rough play
  • Teach your child to ask the driver for help if he/she drops something near the bus
  • If a child bends down to pick up something, the driver cannot see him/her and the child may be hit by the bus
  • Have your child use a backpack or book bag to keep loose items together
  • Make sure clothing and backpacks have no loose drawstrings or long straps, to get caught in the handrail or bus door
  • Encourage safe school bus loading and unloading
  • If you think a bus stop is in a dangerous place, talk with your school office or transportation director about changing the location

REVIEWING BUS RULES:

  • Always stay seated when on the bus
  • Fasten your seat belt, if there are seat belts
  • Don’t put any part of you out the window: arms, head, etc
  • Always talk quietly because loud noises could make driving difficult for the driver
  • There is no eating or drinking on the bus
  • Keep backpacks, books, instruments off the floor. The aisles need to be clear for kids to walk and in case of an emergency
  • Never play with the emergency exits
  • Never throw anything at one another or out the windows when in the bus
  • Be ready to get off the bus when you reach your stop so you don’t keep everyone waiting

Hiking with the Kids

School is almost over, summer is fast approaching, and the season of family get togethers, reunions, vacations and barbeques is close at hand. Quite a few of these events may take place in a park, where there will be the chance to take the kids out for a family hike.

Hiking is a great way to spend some quality time together as a family, and is a terrific form of exercise. Getting out in nature, and maybe leaving behind all the instant communication technologies, can be quite liberating too.

hiking

Now, before you get up and hit those trails, there are some simple and important rules you should keep in mind. Remember, you want this to be a fun experience, for both you and your kids.

You can always hike more, but never less.

So, start out with a short hike in mind. If it is going well, you can simply add to it as you go along. Go too far, for too long, and you may be carrying the little ones back to the car.

Safety first.

Bug bites, sunburn and skinned knees are the most common safety issues you want to make sure you can take care of on the trail.

• Sunscreen and bug-spray all exposed skin before setting out on the trail.

• Long pants are better than shorts in protecting the legs from bug bites.

• For the skinned knee, or hand, some anti-biotic cream and band-aids are a good idea to have on hand.

Stay hydrated!

Make sure you bring along plenty of water. There is no such thing as too much water, and the best place to carry your water is inside you. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink. Stop every 20-30 minutes and take a few swigs of water. Stay away from sugary drinks, straight water is more than good enough.

Keep up your strength.

Have some good energy snacks with you too. Depending on the length of the hike, you may want to stop, perhaps at a scenic viewpoint, and take a little break with something to eat.

Have a plan if…

The last simple rule needs a whistle Make sure each child has a whistle attached to them. I don’t mean in their pocket, I mean around their neck, or looped into their belt, so they cannot lose the whistle. If, they should ever become separated from the group, they can blow the whistle loud and clear, while staying put. Make sure this is explained to them before, and reviewed during, the hike.

Have fun!

These rules, if followed, will go a long way in making that family walk in the woods a good one. Having it be a good time, a good memory, that is the key to getting the kids – and you – to want to do it again. Hiking is a great exercise that can take your kids to great places as part of a life-long activity.

Some helpful websites for making the family hike fun and safe:

Hiking with Kids – American Hiking Society http://www.americanhiking.org/resources/hiking-with-kids/

• A short list of ideas to keep the hike “kid-friendly.”

Helpful Tips on Hiking – American Hiking Society

http://www.americanhiking.org/gear-resources/tips-for-your-next-hike/

• An excellent resource on everything you may need to know about getting started with hiking. From boots to bug-spray, rain gear to snacks, and safety and first-aide on the trail.

hiking

Kids and Hiking – REI

http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/kids-hiking.html

Just Jeff’s Hiking Page

http://www.tothewoods.net/HikingWithKids.html

Tips for Hiking with Kids

http://www.wta.org/hiking-info/children/resources-for-families/how-to/tips-for-hiking-with-kids

 

Article by: Ned M Campbell is the head coach of James Madison High School’s wrestling team in Brooklyn, NY, and is a USA Wrestling nationally certified coach. He is a West Point graduate and former U.S. Army Officer, who also teaches history at James Madison teamHigh School.  Prior to teaching, Ned M Campbell worked with children and adults with disabilities during summer programs with IAHD and Southeast Consortium,  and volunteered time supporting a therapeutic horseback riding program for youth and adults with disabilities.

Campbell is a published writer, and a contributing writer to the “Can Do” Street blog for kids and parents. In addition, he is the voice of Coach Campbell in “Can Do” Street programs.

Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out Coach Campbell’s co-article for kids, on this subject, featured on the “Can Do” Kids blog at http://candostreet.com/blog-kids/

 

What to Expect When Your Child Joins a Team

teamJoining a team, especially for the first time, can be stressful for a kid. There will be so many new things to deal with. There might not be any kids on the team your child knows. Then there are the coaches to get to know. Finally, there is the reality that there are kids out there better at the sport than your child. Learning that you are not the best, or as good as you thought, is a very humbling experience for a child to have to navigate. But, it is also a very important life lesson.

Before deciding what team to have your child join, there are some important questions that need to be answered. To place your kid on a team that is too much for them, too demanding of time, or perhaps, beyond their current skill level, runs the risk of a very bad experience that could ruin your youngster’s interest in the sport. So, ask yourself, just how interested is your child in the sport? Are they passionate, obsessive, or do they just like it, and want to play it? Secondly, and in this you need to be very honest, just how good are they at the sport? Will this be their first experience on an organized team sport? Do they have the skills necessary to compete with the more advanced kids on a travel team? Again, what every parent wants to avoid is placing their child in a situation that quickly becomes negative, and sours their child away from the sport, and teams in general.

Another issue, and one often overlooked, just how much time do you – the parent – have to support this team? How many practices a week will they have? Where are the practices, and how will your child get to and from them? When and where are the games? In some sports leagues, an entire weekend day can be consumed with competitions. Will this conflict with other family commitments?

Lastly, what is the financial cost of joining this team? Many leagues have a fee for participation on a team. These fees cover the costs of field times, referees and officials, and depending on the sport, the cost of minimally necessary equipment. An example is the catching gear for baseball and softball. In other leagues, the child is expected to have all the necessary equipment, which can range from cleats and shin protectors for soccer, all the way to shoulder pads and helmets for football.

Now, once you have made your decision, and the season has begun, please remember how important it is that you support your kids in a positive manner. You want to try hard to not be too tough on your kid. You don’t want to be “that parent,” who is yelling and screaming at the coaches, and the kids, like it is a pro game. These are kids, they are growing both physically and emotionally. At the same time, don’t let your kids quit, and then miss out on the great experiences being on a team can give them. Let them at least finish what they started, and learn about the importance of keeping a commitment.

It is going to take a team effort, both on and off the field, to help your kids get the most out of this team experience. That means working with the coaches, and other parents, and maybe even being a surrogate parent for a kid whose parents aren’t making it out to the practices and games. It will be worth it though. A lifetime of great memories, and super important life lessons will be gained through participation in team sports. I am still influenced today by the many positive experiences I had, and great examples set by my coaches, while playing football and wrestling during my youth.

Below are two helpful organizations whose sole purpose it is to help kids, parents, and coaches do a better job getting the most out of youth athletics.

Positive Coaching Alliance is a national non-profit developing “Better Athletes, Better People” by working to provide all youth and high school athletes a positive, character-building youth sports experience.

http://positivecoach.org/

https://www.facebook.com/#!/PositiveCoachingAlliance

Proactive Coaching supports the development of character-driven sports, coaching for significance, and cooperative effort between parents and coaches to raise strong kids!

http://www.proactivecoaching.info/proactive/

https://www.facebook.com/proactivecoach#!/proactivecoach

 Article by: Ned M Campbell,who is head coach of James Madison High School’s wrestling team in Brooklyn, NY, and is a USA Wrestling nationally certified coach. He is a West Point graduate and former U.S. Army Officer, who also teaches history at James Madison teamHigh School.  Prior to teaching, Ned M Campbell worked with children and adults with disabilities during summer programs with IAHD and Southeast Consortium,  and volunteered time supporting a therapeutic horseback riding program for youth and adults with disabilities.

Campbell is a published writer, and a volunteer contributor to “Can Do” Street blog for kids and parents. In addition, he is the voice of Coach Campbell in “Can Do” Street programs.

Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out Coach Campbell’s co-article for kids, on this subject, featured on the “Can Do” Kids blog at http://candostreet.com/blog-kids/

 

 

 

 

What is Your Child Eating in a School Lunch?

logo for Tray talkThe School Nutrition Association (SNA) launched a PR campaign called Tray Talk in 2010. The official website (www.TrayTalk.org), is designed to emphasize the benefits of school meals and showcase success stories from school nutrition programs nationwide. SNA members can help send positive messages about school meals by submitting their own “school nutrition success stories” at the Tray Talk website.

Here is some of the information shared on the site:

School meals are well-balanced, healthy meals that are required to meet science-based, federal nutrition standards.

    • No more than 30% of calories can come from fat, less than 10% from saturated fat
    • Meals must provide 1/3 of Recommended Dietary Allowances of protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium
    • School meals are served in age-appropriate portion sizes
  • Every School Lunch Includes five choices that add up to a great value:
    • Milk – Fat free or 1% – flavored or regular
    • Vegetables – From jicama slaw to fresh carrot sticks
    • Fruit – Everything from kiwi to locally grown apples; often fresh
    • Grains – More whole grain items like rolls or sandwich bread
    • Meat or meat alternate –White meat chicken, bean chili, lean beef
  •  In January 2011, the US Department of Agriculture released proposed nutrition standards including new calorie and sodium limits, larger fruit and vegetable serving sizes and requirements to expand the variety of vegetables served in schools each week. The standards were finalized in 2012.

The School Nutrition Association makes the case for your child eating a school lunch saying, “A school lunch provides students with their choice of milk, fruits and vegetables, grains and proteins. School meals are a great value and a huge convenience for busy parents. School cafeterias offer students a variety of healthy choices and help children learn how to assemble a well-balanced meal. Parents can be assured that there’s no super-sizing in school cafeterias because federal regulations require schools to serve age-appropriate portions.”

For more information on healthy school meals, visit www.schoolnutrition.org.