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How to spend family night without technology
Family nights are a great way for parents and children to bond and enjoy one another’s company. You grab a cozy blanket, play a favorite movie, share a bowl of popcorn, and debate whether you’re Elsa or Anna. However, want an even greater experience connecting with your loved ones? Put away the TV or any other digital screen and bring out your family’s creativity! There are many fun and educational activities you can do with your child for a night to remember—or several nights, as some of these activities are projects that may take longer. These are awesome ways to not only connect but also practice lifelong learning with your child. Let’s see what you can do together this weekend! Original Game Night Instead of watching TV, you could host a game night at home with the traditional charade, Pictionary, trivia, and Monopoly. There are many benefits to playing games, such as developing critical thinking and social skills and supporting a healthy competitive spirit. For a creative learning experience and an added challenge, make a whole new game together! Decide on the rules, create a point system, craft a colorful board and pieces, and so on. Perfecting this game could make up a whole month’s worth of family nights. You can adjust the rules and game as necessary while trying it out. This seems like an awesome way to bond without technology, just you, your family, and your imaginations! Themed Restaurant Night Opt for a family dinner, but put a fun, maybe cultural, twist by having a themed restaurant night! One activity to do together is cooking, which is also an important life skill. First, decide on a theme and menu for the night. Should the family enjoy Italian? Indian? Go fusion or classic American? After deciding what to put on the menu, give everybody a task so they feel like they’re contributing, whether it’s measuring ingredients or washing the dishes. Setting up the ambiance will be very important, too. Go all out with the decorations and style! Play some retro 50s music for a classic American diner theme. Pull out a red-and-white checkered tablecloth for Italian night. Plate the meal for aesthetic perfection. Light some candles. Dress up to enjoy the fancy meal. Make it feel like you’re dining abroad but from the comfort of your own home. Poetry/Performance Night Reach out to your muses and dive deep with poetry night (black turtlenecks and berets optional). Have everyone write a poem to perform on family night! If you want, jazz up the space with candles and mood lighting. Definitely make it mandatory to replace applause with snaps. This is awesome for exploring each individual’s style of poetry, self-expression, writing skills, and artistic eye. You can also decide on one theme (like nature) or a style (like haikus). Alternatively, consider a performance night! Everyone can get involved. You could write a play or pick the soundtrack for a musical. Your partner could create some DIY costumes and set design. Your child can choose what they’d like to do, as well, whether it’s on stage or behind the scene. Invite extended family over (or invite them through Zoom) to watch the final result of all your hard work! Scavenger Hunt Get active! Plan a scavenger hunt for family night. It’s fun to run around and explore everything both inside and outside of the house in the hunt for items. You can place a time limit and even make this a themed scavenger hunt, like one related to your favorite books, class subjects like math, or a season. For example, you can write Dr. Seuss-like rhymes that your child needs to use their reading skills to figure out. You can drop scientific hints, like “8 oz H20” for a cup of water. You can ask your child to collect specific autumn-themed nature objects, like a yellow maple leaf and a pine cone, then create an art collage afterwards. Encourage your child to work both mentally and physically for this hunt! Reading Event Gather around for a family reading! Books were a great source of entertainment that also fed the mind, so next time, don’t save the storytelling for bedtime. Let the whole family in on it. Everyone can pick the book (we recommend these) and either take turns reading or nominate one reader for the night. Each person could even take on a character, almost similar to performance night. A perfectly cozy alternative to movie night, reading will spark your child’s imagination and open their minds to many different worlds and genres. If your child is a reluctant reader, this is an especially effective way to help them grow more interested in books and improve reading techniques. As a bonus, follow up with a discussion! — At JEI Learning Center, we know there are many benefits to technology, but sometimes, it’s nice to put it away for more personal interactions. These innovative ways to spend time together will make you forget all about your TV, computers, and phones for the night, especially during a period of remote learning and working. Truly unwind by giving your eyes a rest and creating something together in a collaborative spirit. Craft unique memories with your loved ones through imaginative, educational activities. And make sure to let us know how everything goes! Does your child really enjoy the special family nights? Then continue your child’s lifelong learning experiences by enrolling them today in our programs. We are scientifically proven to be more effective than tutoring because, rather than tackling immediate problems temporarily, we build a strong foundation for educational excellence for life. We also know the importance of creative, hands-on learning! Find a personalized learning center near you to learn more about how we can help or call us at (877) JEI-Math today.
Long-term effects of COVID slide and how to combat them
“Do what you can with all you have, wherever you are.” Theodore Roosevelt The summer slide has always been a concern for parents, but now there is the new threat of the COVID slide. Earlier this year, students had to adjust to remote learning during extenuating circumstances. Teachers had to change their typical lesson plans for unfamiliar digital classrooms. Add to that the burden of the summer slide after a few months and another school year of remote learning. What’s even trickier about the COVID slide is how novel and long-lasting it has been. It’s hard to say when it will end and exactly what impact it will have on your child’s education. However, one thing is clear: students are behind, and they may fall even farther. The educational research organization, Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), noted back in April that their preliminary estimates were not promising. They expected that by fall, students will only have improved their reading skills by about 70% and math by less than 50% relative to a normal school year. Some students may be nearly a full year behind in math. More recently in June, NWEA projected that, at the extreme, “the lowest-achieving kids may fall two more years behind.” One long-term consequence of being so behind is your child might be unprepared for college and the workforce. Another is they may be so busy catching up that they have less opportunities for pulling ahead. However, there are ways to combat the COVID slide. Jennifer McCombs, a senior researcher and director at the nonprofit think tank RAND Corporation, said, “School leaders will need to provide more quality after-school and summer programming to get kids caught up.” Providing help through additional learning opportunities is the first and best step all parents can take. Many schools are planning to offer extra resources if possible, but there are other solutions, as well. For example, JEI Learning Center has multiple programs that are all aligned with Common Core and the JEI Self-Learning MethodⓇ, so students can solidify conceptual foundations while continuing to learn and advance at their own pace on their own time. This gives your child the opportunity to catch up to or surpass the level they should be at for school. This is a better option than tutoring, which only targets current weak spots rather than builds a strong foundation for all learning. Some educators even believe that the pandemic has left children with a valuable experience full of unique opportunities to learn about new things and try out new skills. They’ve been learning about disease and how it spreads, sanitary practices, and the environment. They’ve been picking up hobbies and fun activities, many of which hone lifelong learning skills at home without instruction. Even if your child isn’t experiencing the same educational opportunities right now as past generations, these activities can give them the soft skills needed for success. For example, they can read insightful books to expand their way of thinking. The more they read, the more they will exercise their minds and expand their reading techniques. Discuss the stories with them if you find the time, or your child could even start an online book club! This is one creative way to boost their leadership and organization skills. Plus, if this is something they’re passionate about, it would make a wonderful addition to college applications or essays. More than anything, understand that they are going through unprecedented times. As long as they are open about their feelings, stay optimistic about the future, and avoid anxiety and depression, they can take on any challenge to continue toward their infinite potential. It’s all about thinking outside of the box and doing the best they can with the resources they have at hand. Our advice is to talk to your child openly and optimistically about what’s going on and encourage their every pursuit. You can help with your child’s education by enrolling them at a JEI Learning Center near you. You can also contact us at (877) JEI-Math to speak with an expert. We would be more than happy to answer your questions and tell you more about JEI Remote Learning and the JEI advantage. We hope that your child has a great new school year and that you and your family stay safe during this time.
Must-have skill for children #11: being a good listener
Being a good listener is important not only for learning but also for building strong personal relationships. Too often, people zone out or they are eager to cut in with their two cents. They focus more on what they want to say than what the other person is saying. How many times has this happened to you? However, listening well goes beyond simply staying silent. There are many aspects that make someone a good listener, and you will find that practicing this skill will result in greater respect, stronger friendships, and increased wisdom. This is why being a good listener is a must-have skill for your child too. Teach them the importance of giving others their full attention and watch their social life and academic performance flourish. More engaging study environments, like the JEI class ratio of five students to one instructor, can make it easier for them to practice. This is especially helpful if your child is learning English as a second language. You can also help your child become a better listener with these tips: Figure Out Their Role The first thing they should do is figure out what kind of conversation they are having and what their role is. Their role varies depending on the situation and who is talking. If a parent or teacher is trying to teach them an important lesson, they may want to listen quietly and ask questions for clarification. If they’re brainstorming for a group project, they can be more actively engaged while remaining respectful of others’ ideas. They should try to gauge what position best serves the conversation; sometimes, they can ask the other party directly. This also works in casual social settings. It’s natural that when a friend is talking about their problems, your child wants to help out. However, not everybody is airing their grievances to be told what to do. Sometimes, people want a sympathetic ear, so your child shouldn’t jump right in with advice or suggestions unless asked or appropriate. Practice Basic Manners Interrupting is not advisable. Of course if a conversation is fast-paced and exciting, it’s bound to happen, but your child should always try to let the other person finish talking. They don’t want the other person to feel rushed, and they want to hear the full idea or statement. Otherwise, they wouldn’t know how best to respond. They should be attentive, as well, much like they would behave in class. They don’t have to maintain eye contact the entire time, but should show through body language that they are paying their full attention. They should turn towards the other person, avoid playing with anything in their hands (especially their cell phone), and be observant. According to Professor Mehrabian, the leading expert and researcher in nonverbal communication, what someone says only conveys 7% of what they mean; the other 93% is expressed through their facial expressions and tone of voice. In the end, listening involves more than a sense of hearing. Be More Active They should not be an active speaker, but they should not be a passive listener, either. The way to be an active listener is beyond nodding and saying, “Mm-hm,” occasionally. Rather, it’s making the other person feel comfortable and heard. They can do this by asking questions that move the conversation forward or incite more details. They can repeat a few things the other person said to show they’re picking up on the important parts. These are great for when they’re listening to a lesson at school, as well. They can also ask for elaboration on someone’s feelings during a story. This shows that they care about the other person, what they experienced, and how they felt during certain moments. This will be greatly appreciated. React Appropriately Being a kind listener is being a good listener. Of course, there may be moments when your child needs to provide constructive criticism or tough love, but there is a time and a place. For the most part, they should try to be positive, helpful, and understanding. They want to make the other party feel comfortable speaking to them, but if they often react harshly or critically, other people will eventually stop turning to them for conversation. They should be encouraging or comforting, whichever the other party needs. This is an excellent time to practice their compassion and listen with an open heart. Rather than being judgmental, they should try to see things from the other perspective. This is especially important during arguments. — Encourage your child to keep these tips in mind whenever they are with other people. They will find that they can learn so much about others and themselves by becoming a good listener. For further practice, your child can listen to the radio or a podcast, giving their full attention rather than playing it in the background as they multitask. Being a good listener will help them in all areas of their lives, from building strong friendships and connections to absorbing new knowledge and wisdom. Not to mention, people truly appreciate and respect good listeners, so add this must-have skill to their lifelong learning journey today. For other skills that JEI believes every kid, from elementary school to middle school students, absolutely needs to become an effective lifelong learner, check out our Must-Have Skill for Children series!