Click here for th instructions on how to create your own inspirational board.
What are the qualities that we want to support and development in our children? Here is a list of words that we want for our children. Print this out for your child's elementary school or better yet, volunteer to post this in the library or cafeteria to help inspire all children and adults in your child's school to live their best lives and be their best selves.
Click here for th instructions on how to create your own inspirational board.
6 tips to improve Your Environmental Health
Thursday, October 11, 2018 is Children's Environmental Health Day, as sponsored and supported by the Children's Environmental Health Network. Let's celebrate by taking small steps, pasitos, to help lead to a bigger change.
Unfortunately, there are lots more toxins in our surroundings, our environment, today than there were when we were young. And a ton more as compared to when our parents and grandparents were growing up. Sometimes I hear, "Well I turned out just fine, a little bit of XYZ (insert your choice of chemical, pesticide, herbicide, ingredient, etc) didn't hurt me and it won't hurt my child." Truth is we don't know how much of some things are too much and/or if some things are even safe (BPA had to be proven to be unsafe).
So what can you do to help? Try adopting some of these easy lifestyle changes to improve environmental health.
1. Purchase and use non-aerosol, non-toxic sunscreen. The tiny particles of sunscreen become breathable and are held in the air. For your child's lungs and for your lungs. Click here for a complete guide for purchasing preferred sunscreens from the Environmental Working Group. I use their SkinDeep database to double check ingredients for most of my personal care products, including sunscreens.
2. Pack a zero-waste lunch and snacks for yourself and for your child, for school days and every day! Or start with once a week. Then slowly increase it. Make it a goal to try for zero-waste lunch for the New Year. A cloth napkin can hold a sandwich, leftover pizza, some fruit, or other small snacks. I prefer to send my kiddos with stainless steel containers. I'm not a big fan of plastic. The combination of glass and kiddos just freaks me out to much.
3. Adopt a "No idling policy" for your household and ask the same for family members or caregivers that drive your child. Especially at school. All schools. Please.
4. Limit or avoid fragrances in products. Avoid burning candles indoors. So much of our environment is the air we breathe. Typical air fresheners create particulate matter that we breathe. The same goes for candles. Improving air flow and ventilation can help with odd smells as well as a shallow dish with baking soda to absorb smells.
5. Offer your child recycled materials for projects. Pasitos has an imagination station. Full of lots of fun goodies. We often like to stock it with recycled materials. It gives the object another life, another purpose. It also gives us the opportunity to talk with the children about reusing objects. You might even catch us singing the song, "Reduce, reuse, recycle..." Truth: My children like to monitor our recycling at home and take boxes, cartons, jars, etc. in order to use for robots, kitchens, space stations, etc. Making use of lots of household recycling materials, my children get several hours of engaging play and then I get to recycle it when they lose interest, usually within a week.
6. Use green cleaning supplies. For cleaning yourself and cleaning all the stuff around you. The EWG helps us again in determining toxicity of products and ingredients with their green cleaning guide.
In a nutshell, these six small steps can lead to big change to protect the health of our children, our health, and the health of our planet, too. Teach your child that small actions can make a big difference by modeling simple, eco-friendly practices.
A few years ago I attended the ACTFL (American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages) conference in San Diego and was thrilled to listen to a keynote presentation by Rick Steves, the travel guy from PBS. To a room full of language educators, he talked about some of the whys behind language education. We know the many benefits of language learning (cognitive, social, emotional, etc). He also talked about what he believes is the the real reason for learning another language, to communicate with others.
Once we have taken the time and energy to learn another language ourselves or with our children, we need to go out to the world and use the language in meaningful, real-world exchanges. The best way to do this, of course, is to get out of the classroom and into the community.
When we travel, we get to see new places, new structures, new landforms, new people. We get to experience things that we have previously only heard about or read about. We also get to reconnect with old friends.
Maestra Stephanie loves to travel and is currently enjoying some time in Europe visiting different places and some Pasitos families abroad. Why do you like to travel? What benefits have you seen for your child?
Happy summer solstice!
I love camping. I love waking up to sit outside in the quiet morning. I love walking around looking at the different plants and trees while looking for critters and creatures. When I’m feeling it, I like to get in the car and head toward the Sierras. And then stop when we’re done driving. A few Pasitos families introduced me to Lake Alpine a few years ago. Beautiful.
There are also times when a 3+ hour drive is not going to happen. So then I’ll look for a middle of the week spot at a local campground, if I didn’t already make a reservation earlier in the year. (I like to begin planning out summer camping and try to make a couple reservations in February or March.). There are always cancellations, so weekends are still a possibility.
Mt Madonna. It’s close. It’s easy. It’s beautiful.
Memorial County Park. Hiking around and playing in Pescadero Creek creates lasting memories.
Every year we also go to Big Sur. Not for hiking. Just relaxing and playing in the river, in the playground, around the campfire. We go back and forth every year between Riverside Campgrounds and Cabins and Big Sur Campground and Cabins. They are literally right next door to each other and each has their perks. I once worked on my MA project sitting by the river.
Angel Island State Park. I haven’t taken the kiddos yet. Ever. And probably not this summer. But maybe next summer. Camping in the middle of the SF bay is pretty amazing. You have to pack in, but you can do it on bikes to help carry the load.
We are heading up towards Crater Lake, Oregon this year. I'm always excited to visit new campgrounds and experience new sights, smells, and sounds. Happy camping!
What motivates you?
I recently asked this question in a training for Spanish teachers. We talked about things that motivate us and our children. Learning new things, feeling good about ourselves, getting a special prize or reward at the end.
We then related this to our role as teachers. Teachers often question their role in helping students with their motivation. Is it our job to motivate our students? Consensus was that it is not our job to motivate learners. Motivation is internal. If something is going to be accomplished or completed, the individual needs to feels motivated to do the task. Similarly, learning a language is personal. It happens on the learners own time, at their own rate. Motivation is critical to learning anything, but it must come from the individual for the motivation to be long lasting.
So, if it’s not our job to motivate children to acquire, learn, and practice another language, what is our job, especially if we recognize that motivation is an important piece to learning?
Our job as language teachers is to provide fun and engaging actives and a low-anxiety environment so the learners will want to learn and want to practice new words. Our own enthusiasm for the language, the songs, and games that we practice and rehearse with the children helps the children to associate positive feelings towards language learning. This in turn helps children to feel motivated to learn.
Some parents had the luxury of growing up in bilingual households and learning two languages from an early age. For these parents it can be a struggle to maintain the minority language, or the language that is other than English for those of us here in California. Other factors arise for parents that are not quite fluent in the minority language. Perhaps they studied a couple or several years of the language in high school or college. Perhaps they grew up with some family members speaking the language and do have a rudimentary understanding of the language but are unable to fluently produce the language. The strategies listed below are for those parents.
To improve your own personal language skills:
1. Use technology. Software, apps, games. The Rosetta Stone software, although expensive, works pretty well if you have the time to use it. The military kept up their contract for many years because it's so good.
2. High interest reading material. Pick up some magazines, in paper or on your device to practice words in categories that already have your interest perhaps cooking and housekeeping or cars or science.
3. Listen to music in the target language. The radio is a great place to hear authentic conversation on local topics of interest. Plenty of internet radio stations also are culture or language specific.
To improve and encourage the language skills of yourself and your child:
4. Listen to children's music in the target language in the car when you are driving around together. Sing and talk with your child while practicing simple or fun songs. Many libraries have children's books and CDs in many different languages.
5. Make it a routine to read one book in the dominant language and one book in the target language every day to your child. This can easily become part of your bedtime routine.
6. Use a picture dictionary for yourself. Have it available around the house and practice vocabulary with your child. Alternatively, use a translating or dictionary app to help you learn and practice new words in context.
7. Pick a certain experience that you engage in regularly with your child. Maybe a certain meal, during bath time, or an evening walk. Study up on some of the words that you imagine you'll need to try to sustain the minority language for the entire length of the experience.
8. Choose to allow screen time in the target language. Did you know that Sesame Street is in over 140 countries in several different languages? I have several episodes of Plaza Sésamo on my phone to help prevent restaurant or other public melt downs. I've heard some parents say that they just switch the language on favorite movies to allow their child to watch it in the target language.
Really, the goal is to surround yourself and your child with more opportunities to hear and practice speaking the target language. I even switched the settings on my phone to a different language to allow me yet another way to make me think and process in the target language.
On our staff development day we spent time reflecting on our practices and our philosophy. Below are some of the questions that were given to the maestros to answer. The maestros brainstormed possible responses and were given opportunities to refine and reflect upon their answers. Some of our maestros responded in English and others in Spanish; you can see their authentic responses below. There were twenty questions in total. Here is the seventh set of questions:
Why is it important to document children’s learning and display evidence around the classroom? ¿Por qué es importante documentar el aprendizaje de los niños y exponerlo alrededor del salón?
Why do we have community events? ¿Por qué tenemos eventos para la comunidad?
Why do we have an imagination station? ¿Por qué tenemos una estación de imaginación?
On our staff development day we spent time reflecting on our practices and our philosophy. Below are some of the questions that were given to the maestros to answer. The maestros brainstormed possible responses and were given opportunities to refine and reflect upon their answers. Some of our maestros responded in English and others in Spanish; you can see their authentic responses below. There were twenty questions in total. Here is the sixth set of questions:
Why do we let children play in the rain? ¿Por qué permitimos que los niños jueguen en la lluvia?
Why do we take off our shoes inside? ¿Por qué nos quitamos los zapatos adentro?
Why do we not use time-outs? ¿Por qué no usamos time-outs?
On our staff development day we spent time reflecting on our practices, and our philosophy. Below are some of the questions that were given to the maestros to answer. The maestros brainstormed possible responses and were given opportunities to refine and reflect upon their answers. There were twenty questions in total. Here is the fifth set of questions:
Why don’t we translate? ¿Por qué no traducimos?
Why do we have so many teachers in our classrooms? ¿Por qué tenemos tantos maestros en nuestros salones?
On our staff development day we spent time reflecting on our practices, and our philosophy. Below are some of the questions that were given to the maestros to answer. The maestros brainstormed possible responses and were given opportunities to refine and reflect upon their answers. There were twenty questions in total. Here is the fourth set of questions:
Why do we use cloth towels instead of paper towels? ¿Por qué usamos toallas de tela en vez de papel?
Why do we re-heat in ceramic, not plastic? ¿Por qué calentamos la comida en platos de cerámica y no plásticos?
Pasitos is an eco-friendly, bilingual community based on learning and fun. Through a play based Reggio inspired curriculum, children gain the necessary literacy skills to make them successful in both Spanish and English. At the same time, they build social and emotional skills in working with peers and the maestras. Together these skills help open their minds and language capabilities. Teachers interact with the children to build strong academics and positive social skills.