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Must-have skill for children #1: reading a road map
In today’s digital age, does your child know how to read a road map? What may be considered a dying skill in this digital age, is still an extremely important skill worth having. Life is full of adventures, and what better way to navigate one than with a handy map on National Read a Road Map Day! Many may be content using a GPS to get from point A to point B, but it is not the most reliable tool without basic skills as back up. What if your child cannot recognize the symbols the GPS uses? Is that a railroad track or a bridge? Who knows? Not to mention, this technology typically relies on some type of power and/or the Internet. Without one or the other, a GPS is practically useless. How would your child get out of a rut in the future without a handy physical map in the car? Apart from the obvious practical aspects, learning how to read a map at an early age helps children with their education. At a young age, they are only just developing their spatial awareness and intelligence. Adults may take this for granted now, but children are still learning about positions, locations, and directions! It is hard for them to merely envision these concepts, which is why the JEI Learning Center’s program, Brain Safari, encompasses workbooks dedicated to mastering them. Children can learn the difference between North, South, East, and West with maps provided in the specialized workbooks provided throughout the program. In order to read a road map, children will learn not only about positions, locations, directions, and distances but also symbols and compasses. The legend, or map key, is a box on a corner of a map that shows what each symbol means. The symbols can vary depending on what sort of map it is, so it is important to look at the legend first. Check out the example of a simple legend below! This should help children recognize landscapes and realize that symbols are stand-ins for real objects and concepts. The dashed line is a symbol for a real road in some cases or a dirt path in others. An arrow pointing one way on a street means that is a one-way street, which is another important distinction. The compass rose (example blow) also on the map should help children learn the directions north, south, east, and west, further increasing spatial intelligence. Some map compass roses may show only “N” for “north,” so make sure your child knows all parts of one to be prepared for any situation. Pair up the map with a compass, and your child will be a navigating master in no time! Keep in mind, though, that for some children, it is easier to navigate by landmarks while, for others, it is easier to navigate by directions. Practicing both will be the most helpful! On top of that, JEI Math introduces the Metric System and the concept of distances as maps are scaled versions of the real world. A map may have a scale of 1 cm to 1 km, meaning 1 cm on the paper map would be 1 km of ground in real life. This is a fun way for children to apply math and number concepts to daily life. To have your child interested in reading maps, there are many fun ways to go about this and apply it to real life. You could have a scavenger hunt or create a fake treasure map! Your child could even draw her/his own map for an imaginary or real area. Children sure love national parks and amusement parks--but a GPS is useless there. Have them grab a map when entering the park and use that to find the best way to landmarks or favorite rides. For more real-life application, whenever going on a familiar route, say aloud the directions so your child can learn how to get there and consequently feel confident about learning directions to somewhere new in the future. For example, in the car, you can narrate, “And here, at this corner with the church, we turn right! At the next stop sign, we turn left onto Cranberry Avenue and keep going past the bagel shop until we see JEI on the right.” Reading physical maps is a lost art, but it is a fun and important skill to tackle nonetheless! To further amplify the talents that reading a map entails, such as following instructions, figuring out directions, and learning distances, take a look at the Brain Safari and Math programs offered at a JEI Learning Center near you.
JEI for all learners
The JEI Self-Learning Method is specially designed to help all types of learners with different needs. Our specialty is providing a safe classroom environment for all, where students can learn at their own pace with individualized curricula specifically designed for each child. At JEI Learning Center, we believe a better life is achieved through a better education, which is why it is important to us that the needs of every child are met. Through our extensive individualized programs, we ensure that our: Instructors Meet Children at Their Level Each class at JEI has at most five students to one instructor, ensuring a setting in which children can feel comfortable asking for help. Unlike the larger classrooms at school, this smaller setup allows each child to feel less shy about speaking up and asking questions; additionally, instructors can personalize the instruction to match the child’s learning style. This way, students will feel more confident, get the personal attention they need, and be met at their level. Instructors Provide Safe Environments The mission of JEI is to create healthy studying habits for each individual. In order to work toward this goal, all instructors make sure to create a distraction-free and safe environment for heightened focus. Every child should feel safe within the walls of the classroom without feeling overwhelmed by loud noises. This enables them to focus on the work at hand, which in turn promotes self-confidence and self-discipline. Students Follow a Clear Routine Routines allow children to feel safe and secure, so any sudden changes could result in panic and adversity to learning. To prevent this, each classroom follows a routine involving clear instructions and schedules. Children will know what to expect coming in, can practice until they are comfortable, and will be told of any changes ahead of time. Clear routines will also promote self-discipline and good studying patterns. Students Learn at Individualized Paces As a part of the enrollment process, JEI assesses students in order to gauge where they stand in the program. Afterward, an individualized learning program is specifically designed and implemented for them. This way, children will feel neither rushed nor bored; rather, each child will feel stimulated at a pace that is comfortable yet challenging for her/him. Even if a class is full with a maximum of five students, each one will work at her/his own pace. Centers Promote Visual Learning Each carefully composed workbook has engaging illustrations to help children understand new concepts. These visual examples help children grasp new information easily, no matter the difficulty level. Whether a child is struggling or rushing ahead, the visual aids are there for reference. This also enables them to draw from inference and strengthen their observation skills rather than simply being told facts and what is right and wrong. Instructors Show Positive Reinforcement JEI is aware that children can be easily discouraged by any sign of negativity, some more so than others. That is why instructors show support and positive reinforcement to show children that making mistakes is okay as long as they learn from them. We want to build their self-confidence and self-motivation, which will, in turn, further accelerate their learning. After all, a discouraged child is not eager to learn, and that may be the biggest obstacle. -- At JEI, it is important that each student feels safe and that each parent feels assured of this, which is why we always open our doors to all types of students with different learning needs. We promote an open-minded, flexible institution that shares the common goal of all parents and students to strive for understanding and growth. If interested in enrolling at your local JEI Learning Center, find your local Center today.
"Why NOT teach poetry?" An interview with Poet Taylor Mali
“Why NOT teach poetry?” might be a simple, irrefutable response to the question of, “Why should we teach poetry?” But published poet, Taylor Mali, writer of What Learning Leaves, creator of game Metaphor Dice, and a TED Talk’s “Best of the Web” speaker, goes beyond that. In an interview with JEI Learning Center, he asks, “What if poetry did not exist altogether?” If that was the case, then surely his life and the whole world would be very different. In the kickoff interview for National Poetry Month, the one-time school teacher and full-time poet spoke with JEI about teaching, poetry, and teaching poetry. His love for the art, particularly poetry slam, is credited to his literary family (his mother wrote children’s books while his father channeled Dr. Seuss). They would often hold poetry recitals at large gatherings, and it was these performances that led to Mali’s interest in acting, poetry slam, and more traditional forms of poetry. This, along with his love for education, led to his work as a teacher in middle and high schools. He became an advocate for education, writing poems like “What Teachers Make” and “Like Lilly Like Wilson.” Eventually, he started a 12-year-long project to inspire 1,000 people to become teachers, saying: It took me longer than planned, but it was wonderful to have a reason to get up in the morning that was larger than myself. Early on, my standards were very high (though far from scientific). Towards the end, I’d accept you on my list if you could honestly say that my poetry had pushed you in some way to become a teacher. Ultimately, Mali left full-time teaching but continued to inspire as a full-time poet, offering both performances of his poems and workshops on the craft of poetry. He cites W.H. Auden, calling poetry “the clear expression of mixed feelings,” which accurately represented multiple situations throughout his lifetime: Poetry has taught me that nothing is ever all one thing. Everything is everything, usually all at once . . . I couldn’t decide if I wanted to write a poem that wallowed in the woe [of divorce] . . . [o]r a poem that exulted in the excitement of finding a new love. I chastised myself for not being clear about what I wanted! Then I realized the more useful thing would be to write a poem about wanting both: to be the victim and the triumphant underdog! Poetry is not only powerful for expressing complex feelings but also for understanding life through language. Mali tells JEI, “[P]oetry tries to carve a little bit of truth or beauty or both out of life’s mayhem and fix it in the mind with . . . some other measure of magic. It teaches us the power of language.” Finally, when asked the big question, “Why learn poetry?” he admitted frustration, as he feels that no answer would be satisfying to someone who needs to ask that question. He answers it anyway with a sort of dystopian fiction: [P]erhaps the best way to answer the question is in the negative. Not just by saying, “Well, why NOT study poetry?” but imagining a world where poetry did not exist. There’s another quotation about this very possibility that I love (even though I cannot remember who said it): If poetry suddenly ceased to exist, our culture would not become undone, and yet future historians would say of us, “How odd that they had none.” At JEI, we agree with Taylor Mali that poetry allows for magic, creativity, inspiration, and self-expression. That is why we created a special new poetry unit for the month of April. It is designed to show students the wonder and possibilities of language. The four-week curriculum pulls from our Reading & Writing program and is a great introduction to what this enrichment program has to offer. Come explore the magic of poetry by finding a JEI Learning Center near you, and learn more about our spotlighted artist, Taylor Mali, to get inspired.