PBL stands for Project Based Learning. PBL is a teaching method many school are implementing to help children acquire knowledge through active exploration of real world problems or answering a complex question. This is not a totally new method of teaching. It can trace its roots back to John Dewey who introduced the idea of learning by doing way back in the late 1800s!

Many school are including one or more PBL lessons into their curriculums, and there are some school across the country that have become totally project based schools. The PBL method is currently being used in classrooms from kindergarten through high school.

For anyone who is unfamiliar with this method, here is a brief description. A PBL unit will start with a problem or a question that must be resolved. Students then go about investigating and responding to the problem or question. They could be working in groups or individually. During this time, the teacher provides support and encouragement as needed. It is also the teacher’s job to make sure that the children stay on task. All projects have a definite time limit and a date when they will be presented.

The PBL method encourages children to use their critical thinking skills to come up with answers. They also become more independent learners because they are only getting guidance not direct instruction from the teacher.

Not everyone is on board the PBL bandwagon! Some educators feel that students could acquire the same knowledge in less time through direct classroom instruction.

If your children are unable to blend consonants, they will have trouble reading basic words. Consonant blends are typically taught in first and second grade. Consonants are all the letters in the alphabet that are not vowels ( a, e, i, o, u.) Most of the sounds in words are consonants. They are frequently blended together in clusters of two or three letters at a time. Blends can be found at the beginning, middle, and end of words. Once your children know the sound of all the letters in the alphabet, the next step is for them to learn how to blend consonants together. Then they will be able to read and spell words that previously were unknown.

You can speed up their knowledge of consonant blends by giving them additional work with s, l, r, and three letter blends. We have developed stories, worksheets, and puzzles that children will enjoy doing that will enhance their knowledge of the consonant blends. Visit the website teacherspayteachers.com and then search for Beginning Blends Bundle by Dear Teacher.

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Academic skills drop quickly when children are not receiving daily reinforcement through drills and other hands-on teacher instructions that they get in the classroom. This is always true during any school vacation. However, the problem this year is that many students have lagged behind in mastering the skills needed to move on to the next grade level. Parents should definitely go to their state’s education website and download the academic standards for the grade that their children just completed. Then look closely first at the academic standards in language arts, reading, and math to make sure the children have acquired the necessary skills in these subjects before looking at the requirements in other academic areas like science and social studies.

The help that you select for your children will depend on how far behind they are in being ready for the next grade. Some children may need help from learning centers, summer school, and tutors. While others may find all the help they need from online classes. And then there are those children who just need to keep their skill levels up through reading or participating in library book clubs or just playing educational games.

Nothing is the same for students! It does not matter whether your students are attending a public school or a private school or what state you reside in. Rules are constantly changing! Masks, no masks! Covid testing or no Covid testing! Classroom or virtual learning! Administrators, teachers, parents, and students all need to be flexible as you never know what the next day might bring! One thing for sure if your students are not regularly in the classroom, their learning is probably lagging behind what they would usually be learning. Now even many students who are in the classroom are also lagging behind. This is due to teacher shortages and other staff shortages because of the Omicron variant. Parents need to think ahead now to what they can do to fast forward their children’s education this summer. Begin to look soon for educational opportunities in your school districts, local colleges, and even parks and recreation programs.

Schools will soon be opening for the 2021-2022 school year, and students will actually be returning to the school buildings. There will be different protocols in place to prevent another COVID outbreak from wearing masks to social distancing to hand sanitizing. Parents you will definitely need to keep up to date with the ever changing protocols so that your children will know what is expected of them when they start school this year.

You should work with your children to establish your school year schedule soon. It is going to be quite a change of pace if they spent most of the year in a virtual classroom. And it would be a good idea to start the schedule as soon at possible to get all the bugs worked out. For example, what time will they need to get up, when and what will they eat for breakfast, will they buy or take a lunch to school and what time will they need to leave the house. Once you have decided on the schedule you need to follow it so the first morning of school is not a total disaster!

When you have your daily school routine, it is time to consider other important aspects of their school day. A master calendar for the whole family is needed so that you can establish homework, school and sports activities and lessons or tutoring times.

Almost every child has suffered some learning loss during the 2020-2021 school year. This summer is your opportunity to help them make up some of this loss as well as enjoy interacting with other children.

First, check out your local school district to see what programs that they are offering. It is highly possible in-person instruction will be available. These programs will tie in best with what your children will be expected to do in school next year.

Another source is your local parks departments, churches, colleges, YMCAs, and summer camps. Many of these programs will now incorporate some educational programming along with their recreational activities. It will be a fantastic change for your children to enjoy returning to in-person programs with their peers.

Finally, programs will fill up fast so explore your options right away.

States legislatures are busy working on proposals to try to close the learning gap that has occurred since schools closed. The proposals include such things as lengthening the regular school day, expanding afterschool programs, requiring summer school and retaining students who do not meet a certain skill level.

How your state will respond to the challenge of helping students make up this educational deficiency depends on funds that the state has available. All the states are waiting to see how much Federal funding that they are going to receive.

Another factor for the states is to choose a solution that the teachers’ unions will accept. So at this point in time, no one knows exactly what is going to happen. One other idea is to provide online tutoring for those students who need to catch up to their classmates.

Of course, the process of applying to college is always stressful! The Pandemic can be blamed, however, for causing college applicants to be more stressed than usual! As always, the biggest worry is financial aid. Today’s students really worry about what their level of debt will be if they don’t receive sufficient financial help!

There is also a new stress factor. Students simply don’t know whether they will be attending college on campus or online!

Another effect of the Pandemic is high school students’ decisions about where they will attend college. Many students had to forgo their in-person campus visitation and opt instead for an online tour. As a result, many are choosing to attend schools closer to home because they are already familiar with the school. This pleases many parents as students might elect to live at home rather than on campus.

Whether or not it is the Pandemic, students’ decisions about which colleges they will apply to are increasingly based on which college is the best fit for their future careers.

Everyone agrees that all students have suffered a learning loss during this COVID Pandemic. The question becomes will everyone be promoted or will some children be retained! This is a very difficult decision for teachers to make with no standardized testing and limited in-person contact with students.

What you should know is that most students are retained because of poor reading skills. Also, the depressing fact about retention is that it is rarely successful. Students simply don’t get the help that they require. And ultimately, too many retained students eventually drop out before graduating from high school.

We suggest that you do the following things to avoid having your child retained:

  1. Make sure the child gets an adequate amount of sleep and nutritious meals.
  2. Show school officials the research on the failure of retention to help students.
  3. Make sure the school investigates if your child has a learning disability that needs to be addressed.

Many student are spending a good portion of the day just sitting in front of a computer during this Pandemic. Because of the stress of online learning, children need something in order to activate their endorphins to keep them in a positive frame of mind. Many schools have stepped up and are providing online gym classes for their students. Some schools have even provided Fitbit devices for their students so that they can login their daily at home physical activities and receive gym credit for them. Unfortunately, not all schools offer gym classes to their students.

Your children really need to exercise for their well-being. If the school is not providing it, you need to ensure that they get sufficient exercise. Lucky families who live in warm climates should have their children participate in outside activities such as running, hiking, jogging, biking and so on. Families in cold climates will need to be a little more creative. The Internet, especially YouTube, offers classes in Yoga, Zumba, dance, aerobics and children’s workouts. Let your children choose the age-appropriate activity that they will most enjoy.