Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Top 5 Ways to get Back Into a School Routine

Many counties have less than one week before schools open for the 2016-2017 academic year! Are you ready to get into a school routine? Here are our Top 5 suggestions for getting back on track:

1. Plan ahead

Work out what’s scheduled for your child and make a family plan. Consider creating a calendar or weekly schedule that helps to remind everyone about what’s going on that week and what your child needs to take to school each day, e.g. library books that are coming due and school sport days.

2. A good day starts with a good night’s sleep

It’s not uncommon for parents to allow their children to stay up later during the summer holidays. To ensure that your child gets up in time for school, it is important to re-adjust your child’s sleeping patterns prior to the school term starting. Start by adjusting your child’s sleep pattern in small half hour blocks. For example, if your child is going to bed an hour later than they need too, then 10 days out from school start adjusting their bed time back by half an hour every couple of days, so that they’re back into the school sleep routine prior to school starting.

3. Morning routines are vital

Establishing consistent and persistent morning routines not only provides the opportunity for your child to develop self-care and independent living skills (e.g., dressing themselves) but also makes the morning run smoother. Consistent morning routines create predictable expectations for your child, which provides the opportunity for them to develop their independence skills and in turn their confidence.

4. After School routines are also important

Additionally, it is important to create an after school routine that suits your family’s needs and situation. As always, consistency is key to any effective routine. So find out what suits you and your family and stick with it. For example, is it better for your family that you have a family meal together after homework is completed? Does your child need some “down time” before bath/shower?

5. Visuals are everyone’s best friend

Creating visual routines can help to reduce stress and assist in creating smooth morning and afternoon schedules allowing people to remain calmer and households to run smoothly. Using a visual routine will allow you to refer your child back to the visual schedule to check for themselves what comes next in the morning or afternoon schedule and carry out that activity. Again this is a great skill to build their independence and self-confidence. You can find great images online, then just print and paste them into a picture schedule.

Thank you to Emma Ballantyne, Senior Behaviour Therapist and Early Intervention Consultant, for contributing this week's Top 5!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Top 5 Reasons to Finish Your Summer Reading List at SpiderSmart

Summer is the best time for kids to catch up on reading. While everyone reads at a different pace, most counties require students to complete a minimum number of books over the summer months. For both enthusiastic and reluctant readers, this can be difficult to accomplish due to busy schedules and the chore of completing a preselected list.

Here are the top 5 reasons to complete your summer reading list at SpiderSmart:

1. Participate in a structured program.

Bring your summer assignments into SpiderSmart, and teachers will collaborate with students to check every book off your list. Learning to set specific goals, as well as lay out the steps needed to attain them, is a critical skill that all students must learn. SpiderSmart encourages students to apply this skill to their summer reading lists by helping them budget their time carefully to read one book every week. Students will feel so proud and accomplished that they were able to complete their reading list with ease!

2. Practice essential skills.

Students don't just read books at SpiderSmart- they interact with them! The ability to read, analyze, and respond is essential and timeless. SpiderSmart's Reading & Writing Program is structured so that students read one book every week, and then we take summer reading to the next level by complete a writing assignment that complements the book. A combination of close reading and critical thinking exercises will build skills of expression that carry over into every subject!

3. Review with an instructor.

Dive deeper into your summer reading by adding vocabulary, comprehension, and writing exercises to your books and completing them with a teacher! Every lesson at SpiderSmart includes one-on-one time with with a talented educator who will review your child's work thoroughly and holistically. This allows for personalized, workshop-style classes that cover everything from comprehension to grammar. One hour a week of individualized review with an instructor can make all the difference!

4. Learn to love reading.

SpiderSmart's dynamic assignments get kids interacting with media on a whole new level. Exploring text in new ways will cultivate an appreciation for literature like never before. Relating to characters and situations through imaginative essay writing creates a closeness to the story that your child will yearn for. Your kids will be begging you for another trip to the library!

5. Return to a learning routine. 

It can feel like a cold splash of water when students return to school after the long, relaxing days of summer. Ease back into an academic routine by participating in SpiderSmart programs once a week. Light homework, hourly classes, and focused lessons are a great way to warm up for school and ensure that your kids are in the fast lane this year!

To find out more about SpiderSmart locations and programs, visit our website at www.SpiderSmart.com

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Top 5 Submissions from SpiderSmart's 2015 Writing Contest

Did you know that SpiderSmart Learning Centers holds a worldwide writing contest for its students every year? Take a look at the categories and rules for this year, and enter your work!

You can also take a look at our Top 5 Submissions from SpiderSmart's 2015 Writing Contest!

1. Adelina Lee (Fiction

2. Yuquing Liu (Essay)

3. Jessya Fan (Poetry)

4. Rachel Kim (Fiction)

5. Jaden Wang (Poetry)

We can't wait to read all of the amazing entries this year!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Top 5 Learning Techniques Your Child Probably Isn't Using

In every educational institution, there are a variety of learning techniques taught to and implemented by students. You may have heard of techniques like writing summaries of texts, re-reading texts, or creating mental images of text material. You may have even used some of these techniques yourself! However, educational psychologists now say that there are 5 crucial learning techniques that kids aren't developing.

Here are the top 5 learning techniques that your kids probably aren't using:

1. Practice Testing.

The technique involves self-testing or taking practice tests over to-be-learned material. Simulating the testing environment and the question style will increase your ability to apply concepts, rather than simply regurgitating memorized facts, which quickly leave your working memory as soon as they're used.

2. Distributed Practice.

Distributed practice implements a schedule of practice that spreads out study activities over time. You might get lucky with the classic "cram session" from time to time, but typically, it's better to allow yourself time to mentally digest what you have learned. This way, information can be stored in long-term memory, which makes it easier to recall over time.  

3. Elaborative Interrogation.

Generating an explanation for why an explicitly stated fact or concept is true will reinforce logical connections between events or facts, especially in non-fiction work, like science and social studies. Practicing this technique will encourage children to follow theories, theses, and arguments by looking for support throughout a work for the overall idea. 

4. Self-Explanation.

Explaining how new information is related to known information, or explaining steps taken during problem solving is a step that allows children to use their fundamental skills to build more complex ones. Especially in math, where larger, more difficult formulas and concepts are derived from simpler ones learned in previous years, the ability to relate a new fact to an old one helps children to learn faster. 

5. Interleaved Practice.

Utilizing a schedule of practice that mixes different kinds of problems, or a schedule of study that mixes different kinds of material within a single study session also helps to reinforce a concept by applying it in different ways. This technique also encourages time-management and discipline, because children will need to complete multiple small assignments within the same study block. 

To learn more about these techniques, visit our source for this week's Top 5:


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Top 5 Reasons For NOT Playing Pokemon Go

1. Fake Pokemon Go Apps are there on app-stores.

Any game that's popular catches the eye of hackers. People around the world are downloading the APK files for the game from unverified sources and that can lead to attacks on your smartphone and data. If you get a bad APK file you are opening up your phones data to the hackers. Some hackers can even remotely take control of your smartphone and steal your valuable financial data. Mind it and download it on your own risk. It may be a virus instead.

2.The Death Of Your Phone’s Battery
All the biggest battery-eating culprits are in action when it comes to Pokémon GO. Your screen is the biggest battery hog, and you’ll be using it plenty. On top of that, you’re going to use your camera so that you can see the Pokémon in the real world. And to top it all off, the ever hungry GPS is a must to even find the Pokémon in the first place. All of this together is a recipe for dead phones.

3. It's Really Not Free
Pokemon Go might be a game that's free to download on your smartphones, but it uses a lot of data on your phone. That basically means that you'll be exhausting your internet packs even before your bill cycles. This game benefits your mobile network provider the most and will empty your pockets if you get too addicted to it.  

4. No more Privacy

Cyber security firm TrendMicro recently said in a report that Pokemon Go gets constant access to the camera and GPS of your smartphone. For some iPhone users the game is also getting full access to users Google accounts. This basically is reading into user patterns by the game developer. The developers did say that they have resolved the issue, but still it's left to your imagination what emails do developers want to read on your Google account. Also it leaves a potential risk to users from hackers. 

5. It's Dangerous
Pokemon Go is a game that's played on the go. And many people in US have been reportedly playing this game while driving and then crashing into walls. Even when traffic is mostly at a standstill and you might be lured into playing Pokemon Go, it can be fatal. If you walk around hunting Pokemon instead of paying attention to your surroundings, then you can easily fall or run into something and injure yourself while playing this game.
It might be a fun game, but if you ignore common sense and play it at the wrong times, then it can be dangerous.

 Thank you to BlogThrust for contributing this week's top 5 list!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Summer is a great time to expand a child’s horizons and sample new interests. In particular, theatre is a wonderful area for children to explore, because introducing your child to the arts can have lifelong advantages!

 Here are the Top 5 Benefits of Theatre Education:

1. It gives a boost of confidence 

 Some kids feel instantly at home on stage, while others feel nervous and anxious at the prospect of performing. Whatever their skill level and comfort level, the best way to feel more comfortable in front of a crowd is to practice performing! The great thing about theatre is that there are lots of opportunities to perform—both in small and large roles. Any performance helps kids feel more comfortable and confident in front of a crowd. That confidence carries offstage as well—not only in the classroom, but also in social situations.

2. Theatre bolsters public speaking skills 

 While every child may not grow up to be a Hollywood star, almost everyone will need to speak in public at some point in their lives. It can be intimidating to do so, but in addition to boosting their confidence, theatre teaches children how to speak clearly. Drama kids learn the skills of articulation, expression and projection. These will come in handy during your child's next presentation in school or even in clubs and group activities.

3. Drama encourages social skills/interpersonal communication 

Communication can be difficult at times for anyone. Theatre teaches children how to express themselves on stage and off. They learn how to display emotions by using both their bodies and their voices. This can help them interpret communication from others more readily and accurately, as well!

4. Theatre teaches empathy 

 Bullying is a rampant problem in today’s schools. One way to combat that is to encourage our children to be empathetic. Theatre allows the students to take on a variety of roles. In doing so, they learn what it feels like to walk in someone else’s shoes, which is the cornerstone of learning empathy.

5. It enhances creativity and encourages students to think in new and different ways 

 Classrooms are great for teaching structure and for following important rules, but kids need to have an outlet to be their crazy, creative selves! Dramatic arts allows them to take these creative impulses and channel them into a character, scene, or show. By trying new things, kids learn to think in new ways. It helps to open their mind on stage and back in the classroom.

Thank you to Drama Kids for contributing this week's Top 5! If you want your child to see if theatre education is for them, then join Drama Kids for a fun and interactive workshop at SpiderSmart of Ashburn on July 30!

Tickets are available here: https://ssmartashburndramaworkshop.eventbrite.com

Space is limited, so reserve your spot now!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Public Speaking

Do you have a big public speaking engagement coming up soon and are getting a little jittery and nervous? No worries! Public speaking causes most of us to experience some sort of anxiety. Yes, even professional public speakers get sweaty palms on stage! 

Below are five tips to help you become an improved and more confident public speaker.

1. Record yourself delivering a speech

That’s right, get in front of your computer or video camera and record yourself delivering that important speech or presentation you have coming up! A handful of us do not like being on camera, but getting over the fear of seeing yourself in the present and hearing yourself speak will give you an extra boost of confidence in your public speaking ability. In addition, this will allow you the opportunity to pay close attention to the details regarding speech delivery, body language and hand gestures, and the pace and clarity of your speech.

2. Get another person to provide you feedback

Grab a close friend or family member to listen to your speech and pay attention to your presentation. Make sure that before you begin, you create or print out an assessment rubric for them to use to help guide them in evaluating your public speaking. The rubric should include categories such as delivery and clarity, content and visual aids, body language, and overall performance. More importantly, you, as the presenter, should educate your evaluator on your expectations in terms of what you hope to get out of the session. For example, have the evaluator pay more attention to the visual aids portion of your presentation if you are confident with your public speaking delivery.

3. Do a brave activity that will put you outside of your comfort zone

While public speaking opportunities get a handful of folks’ energy running, there remains a handful of others that would rather run away from public speaking engagements. If you have a fear of public speaking, doing one or two things that you consider to be brave may help boost your confidence a week or a few days before a big presentation. This brave activity must have two results: 

a) you overcome an obstacle or accomplish a task and 
b) you relieve feelings of stress or anxiety. 

Why these two results? Because these are the same two results one experiences after finishing a speech or presentation! Brave activities may include picking up an old hobby and going hardcore (e.g. basketball, boxing, video gaming) for one or two hours or simply running a reachable but challenging distance.

4. Recite a speech by one of your role models

What’s a better way to practice public speaking than performing a speech given by one of your very own role models? Watch and listen to one of their speeches and pay attention to the many aspects of their speaking ability, including delivery, clarity, and body language. After you finished examining your role model speak, find and grab a transcript of the speech and emulate his/her performance. If you really want a challenge, try incorporating your own elements while attempting to deliver the speech in your role model’s style. This activity should help you notice speaking styles and emphasize tone and delivery, and hopefully inspire and motivate you for your next big speaking engagement!

5. Pay attention to your hand gestures and body language

Incorporating body language creates an exciting and theatrical element into your speaking. This helps amplify your performance by making you, as the speaker, more visually appealing and active to the audience. Some tips include taking notice of and using the space provided by your speaking platform (e.g. move around on the stage) and do not let both of your hands rest by your side at the hips at any given time for more than 5 seconds. Some speakers even find it more energizing and motivating to walk throughout the stage and increase their heart rate, while periodically and purposefully engaging different sections of the audience.

Thank you to Mr. Larry Thi for submitting these tips! You can meet Larry and practice your public speaking at SpiderSmart of Tysons Corner's Public Speaking Workshop on July 16!

All ages are welcome, but space is limited! Register online here: https://tysonscornerpublicspeakingworkshop.eventbrite.com