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Before the bell: Prepare your brain

Aug 20, 2012 8:42am
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(NECN) - With back-to-school season around the corner, many parents and students are looking to prepare for the year ahead.

Sherri Killins, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care, joined "The Morning Show" to share the following information:

Preparing the brain for back-to-school:

Learning can happen at home and most importantly, learning begins at home. Positive adult-child interactions support children's healthy brain development which provides a strong foundation for learning. Parents, families, and communities play a very important role in supporting children's learning in the out-of- school hours, so that learning is continuous.

Children's learning is fostered through engaging and enriching experiences that support children's communication and critical thinking. When children can apply skills and concepts in real life it reinforces their understanding, helps to retain the information they learned, and makes learning come alive. It also therefore helps children become excited about school. 

Here are some ways: 

- Discussing written text in a book, asking a child to describe the illustrations in a picture book, watching the news together and asking for their opinion about the stories, asking open ended questions to expand a topic and support children's curiosity, shopping at the grocery store together to practice math and budgeting, and cooking together and learning about measurement.

- We have developed a communications initiative in Massachusetts called "Brain Building in Progress" and what that means is that children's brains are in a constant state of growth and development, so there is no such need to "reprogram" children's brains for school. Brain building is in progress everywhere.

Challenging students to make the most of the new school year:

A mew study notes that while many students are claiming that their math work is too easy, they are not actually performing particularly well on math exams. The study reported that in math only 40 percent of fourth graders are performing at grade level on the National Assessment of Education Progress.

The promise of opportunity lies everywhere. There are many informal learning opportunities available in the community, such as at public libraries, museums, and community centers. Learning should occur at home as well, through dialogue with family members, exploring outside, or reading and discussing books.

Students can challenge themselves and families can help challenge their children by setting some achievable goals for the year:

- Plan to work on your vocabulary or comprehension by reading more than last year. Find materials that you enjoy reading so you will be more likely to follow through, whether it be biographies, fiction, or newspapers, or magazines. Students and parents can use a Word of the Day calendar to learn a new word every day.

- Commit to watching less television and using the time to engage with others. Use that time to instead research and explore new activities that could lead to a hobby. Try a science experiment at home. For older students, watch a documentary with your family or friends and discuss it afterwards.

- Maximize the resources in your community that provide additional learning opportunities such as museums, and libraries. 



There are five Early Childhood Resource Centers at located at public libraries across the state.

The Parent Engagement and Family Support section of EEC's website has brochures and videos with tips and tools on how to support a child's learning.


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