Back to School 2014

As summer winds down, children’s thoughts across Southwest Orlando will inevitably turn to the first day of school. The school year, which begins Aug. 18, is only a month away, and students and their families can get a head start by preparing now. The beginning of school is an exciting time, but some might worry about what the coming year may hold.
Southwest Orlando Bulletin’s 17th annual Back to School guide provides a comprehensive look at a variety of school-related
topics. In the following articles, area experts offer insights into different concerns often brought about by the start of a new school year. For students, there is an article about getting a new look. For parents, there is information about a child’s development, parental involvement in early education, classroom technology, developing schools into academic communities, and more.

Fashion Tips for Tweens

by Debbie Wisner, president & Debby Tapia, vice president
The Maile Image, Modeling & Acting School

In sixth grade, wear lip gloss, some mascara and a bit of pale eye shadow; don’t go too heavy or it will look bad. As for clothes, keep it comfortable. If you are wearing a short skirt, check to see if your stomach hangs out of the bottom. If so, wear something a little longer. Also, if your pants are likely to slip, wear a belt. Belts are really hip now!
In seventh grade, you are beginning to care about your appearance more; try different hairstyles rather than a ponytail. If you have acne, try a lightweight foundation. Try eyeliner, but not too much. You don’t want to have black eyes! Start putting outfits together with accessories. When you try new things, make sure they look good on you, not just in a picture or at a store. Ask your friends; they will tell you the truth.
In eighth grade, you are getting better at makeup, and you know what you like. Try establishing your own hairstyle. For example, if everyone has long, layered hair with no bangs, try light, wispy bangs and a shorter layered look. You are starting to care what your friends think about you, but stay true to who you are. Wear clothing that is your size and looks good on you.
In ninth grade, you are around a variety of ages. You are going to want to look like the rest of your peers. You should, by now, have your own personal makeup and hairstyle. Update this look a bit; no one wants to carry the same look they had in middle school. You can wear your usual makeup during the day (natural is always best), but if you go out at night, you can add a little darker shade. Try wearing heels. Add accessories and buy a bag that’s in style to carry your school books instead of a backpack.
Good luck, fashionistas!

Technology in the Classroom

by Neena Dhanji & Sandy Graf, principal
Central Florida Preparatory School

Online gaming, chatting and TV are all trends of this generation. It’s difficult to keep even the youngest child off an electronic device. So what can be done to focus young minds on education rather than games?
Many educators believe that marrying technology and education is the key. A digital learning platform is possibly the best solution, allowing educators to transform the distraction of technology into a tool for future scholars.
In this new paradigm, students continue to learn via class lectures, and yes, they still use paper and pencils. Technology is used to provide interactive and teacher-customized lessons for every age group, from kindergarten through high school. Imagine animated online tutoring of complex lessons, presentation of scientific materials direct from the experts, and voice recognition technology as a tool to teach foreign languages.
With digital courseware, textbooks become optional! Coursework, along with student planners and progress reports, is Web-accessible. Now students can submit their work online, mimicking real-world applications of technology in the workplace. And, as an added bonus, all that “online time” is educational!
Combining instruction with technology is the future of education. Blended learning environments provide the digital technology students crave and a best in-class education that parents desire.

Developing Schools Into Academic Communities

by Tom Marcy, headmaster
Windermere Preparatory School

There is a great deal of talk in education about engaging the “whole child.” But what does that mean? In short, the challenge is for schools to function as academic communities.
Schools should engage students in a visible “culture of thinking” that is clearly evident to the students, parents and teachers. Schools can provide students the opportunity to create beauty in many forms, utilizing self-expression and group initiatives in fine arts and the use of technology; and foster an environment that produces graduates who are “cultured young adults” engaged in the exploration, discovery and utilization of their unique talents and gifts.
Schools can establish and maintain meaningful, positive relationships within the school community and assemble a faculty that is collaborative, jointly supportive, collectively committed and mutually accountable.
A diverse student body enables children to learn, develop and practice leadership skills that will equip them for success as future citizens, parents and contributing team members in a global workplace. They gain confidence, persistence and creativity to take their ideas in directions not previously pursued by others and prepare for careers that have yet to be created.
Students can foster a culture of caring that promotes community service and the virtue of civic responsibility, as well as their role to contribute to sustainability efforts regarding the environment.

Parental Involvement in Early Education

by Yamileth Ramos
Kiddie U Learning Center

Educators play important roles in the lives of children, but more important is the role parents play in their child’s education and development. Gone are the days where education started and ended at school.
Parental involvement in early education and discipline is perhaps the most important factor in having academic and social success. These early years serve as the brickwork for successful patterns in learning and discipline. Parents who play an active role in their child’s education — i.e., reading to their child for 20 minutes every night, engaging in meaningful conversations, involving them in cooking routines — will develop a love for learning and build trusting relationships. Children will tend to have better self-esteem, be more self-disciplined and show higher aspirations and motivation toward school.
When it comes to discipline, flexibility is key. Parents must be prepared to modify their approach over time, using different techniques as their children develop greater independence and capacity for self-regulation and responsibility.
When parents and professionals are open with each other and work together, it can only provide the optimal environment for the child and their individual successes.

Performing Arts as an Outlet for Kids

by Katie Corrie, founder & director
In the Limelight

The performing arts offer an outlet for children and teens to experience, learn and hone a variety of life skills. With arts programs being cut from schools around the country, performing arts studios are rising to the challenge of providing the opportunities children and teens hunger for.
The following are the top-10 skills children learn from the performing arts:
1. Creativity — Being able to think on your feet, approach tasks from different perspectives, and think “outside of the box.”
2. Confidence — Convincingly delivering a message and taking command of the stage.
3. Problem-solving — Developing skills in reasoning and understanding.
4. Perseverance — Learning skills and techniques without giving up, which is essential to achieving success.
5. Focus — Keeping a balance between listening and contributing.
6. Nonverbal communication — Learning how to break down the mechanics of body language.
7. Receiving constructive feedback — Using evaluation and critique to improve your skills.
8. Collaboration — Working together, sharing responsibility and compromising with others to accomplish a common goal.
9. Dedication — Following through with artistic endeavors that result in a finished product or performance, which results in a feeling of accomplishment.
10. Accountability — Admitting you made a mistake and taking responsibility for it.

Sensitive Periods of Development

by Nora Yee, head of school
Montessori World School

Every child progresses through a series of quantum leaps in learning during their preschool years, ages 0-6. It is easier to acquire certain abilities when a child is particularly sensitive to certain types of stimuli or interactions. Once the sensitive period for a particular ability passes, the development of the brain progresses beyond the point at which information can be easily absorbed. The child must then be taught this ability, resulting in expenditure of conscious effort and producing results not as great as he could have achieved.
Each sensitive period refers to a predisposition compelling children to acquire specific characteristics or skills. From ages 0-1, random movements become coordinated and controlled, such as grasping, crawling and walking; ages 0-6, language acquisition takes place; ages 1-4, fixation on small objects and tiny details; ages 2-4, a keen sense for order characterized by a desire for consistency, repetition and established routines; ages 2-6, fascination with sensorial experiences; ages 3-4, writing and drawing; ages 3-5, spontaneous interest in letters and reading; and ages 4-6, spatial relationships and mathematical concepts.
These are important developmental stages, during which the foundation of future learning will be built. Wherever this solid foundation is lacking, children will experience difficulty in learning and reaching their full potential.

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