Classrooms, learning skills

Boyhood

Fall temperatures have finally arrived in Texas after a very long, hot summer. This weekend, I had the opportunity to take three of my grandsons to the Botanic Garden here in Fort Worth. We meandered through the gardens, having a picnic by the fountain pond, counting turtles by the bridge, throwing sticks in the water, exploring “mysterious forest paths,” and climbing on rocks. The boys led the expedition, and huffing and puffing, I followed.

These three grandsons also attend our school, Shady Oak Learning. Major, age 4, is currently in his “junior fireman” stage after crawling on a firetruck last week on one of our field trips. I consider our outing a victory because he did not fall in the pond. Deacon, age 6, whose favorite color is green and is obsessed with trains, showed his excitement by flapping his arms while looking at all the turtles. Wyatt, age 8, an extraordinary reader, read all the signs to us about the plants, and was so absorbed in the sights and sounds that he ran ahead, totally tuning out my voice calling his name to slow down, since my sore knees could not keep up with him.

This “Grammy Field Trip,” as I decided to name it, inspired me both as a mom/grandmother and as a teacher who is passionate about educational reform. As I observed my grandsons, I noticed how engaged and curious they were. The beauty and complexity of nature gave them endless moments to engage their thinking and wonderings. The boys led the expedition, and even though I feared that they might stumble while claiming a high rock, fall in the water, or go ahead of me and get lost, we made it safely with no harm done. I think that they will remember this for a long time – I know I will!

BOYS ARE AT RISK

Boyhood, in the way God created it to be experienced, is seriously at risk. Boys spend fewer hours moving and playing, and have become “feminized” by our culture’s obsession with safety at the expense of exploration and free play. Our educational system has boys sitting and confined to desks and high expectations and abstract thinking standards have been pushed down to inappropriate ages. Many developmental problems can be traced to a child’s lack of movement during early years.

HOW CAN WE CREATE JOY IN BOYHOOD?

We expect boys to sit in desks at age 5 and be able to read by the end of kindergarten as well as write complete thoughts going into first grade. Last week after giving the SOI Form L (K-2nd ) assessment to a beginning first grader, I lamented the fact that his private school thought he was behind in writing. His NFU score was above expected range, he wrote Continue reading “Boyhood”

soi-ipp

Addressing Learning Difficulties

IPP (Integrated Practice Protocol) is one of our most popular programs at SOI.

Why? Because it addresses visual, auditory, and sensory-motor skills through a series of exercises customized to meet every student’s needs! Each student gets to work on building his/her skills.

The IPP program is a system for treating learning difficulties. It works to improve attention span, memory, comparison/contrast thinking, eye-hand coordination, systems reasoning and other skills essential to the learning process, helping students perform better in school and in life.

With IPP, the following areas are screened. An explanation for each is given.

SENSORY INTEGRATION

  • Balance­: Balance is a motor skill.  At the beginning of life, motor activity develops before mental actions, then both work together and coexist, and, finally, mental action subordinates motor activity. The premise here is that proper development of motor skills is critical for learning­ – that motor experiences are the foundation of mental development.  When motor skills are not fully developed, cognitive learning can be affected.
  • Crossing the Midline/Mentally Crossing the Midline: When an individual is able to cross the midline (literally reach across or move across the middle of the body), it means that his/her  brain has learned to plan and carry out a sequence of movements in proper order.  When internalized, it leads to the ability to know your right from your left.  We use ourselves as a reference point in understanding the orientation of an external object or a word.  If a child had difficulty in understanding his/her own left and right, he/she will have difficulty with the  proper orientation of a word or letter, and this may cause word or letter reversals.
  • Body in Space: An individual should know where his/her body is in space with or without benefit of the visual system.  Knowing this contributes to the knowledge and development of left/right, directions, spatial relations, visualization, etc.

FOCUSING SKILLS Continue reading “Addressing Learning Difficulties”