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  Santa Cruz Parent Santa Cruz, CA

March 20, 2014
Welcome Spring!

Is Kindergarten Too Hard? Or Not Hard Enough?

Suki: Firmament

Christine: Pink Fairy Armadillo
This Week
The Little Mermaid
Click to view our Business Directory
  Welcome Spring!

(Special Event Images / Graphics) OhloneAtlatl.jpgIt's no secret that children thrive on imagination and adventure.  They can easily enter an imaginary world of "What if you were an Indian 300 years ago? Where would you get your food?" 

This Saturday you can learn about foraging food from the sea with expert Dennis Judson, owner of Adventure Sports Unlimited(Photos General) AdventureSportsForage.jpgWhile Dennis is passionate about kayaking and diving in exotic locales, he's equally enchanted with helping children and their families acquire a love for "all things water".  The next foraging class is this coming Saturday.  To get in, you need to call right away!

Or on the same day you can take A Walk in the Past at Big Basin and discover how the Ohlone Indians survived.  Docent Eva Fewel talks about some of the plants the Ohlones used for food, tools and medicine. This is a 4-mile, 2.5-hour walk.

Next week at The Discovery Learning Center is a discussion on feminism/homeschooling.  Feminism is a big movement, which has impacted our American culture significantly and has engendered passionate opinions from the time of suffragettes.  Homeschooling is both an ancient and young movement.  Join homeschooling moms (mostly) and dads in a discussion of homeschooling and feminism on Wednesday, March 26. How do they intersect?

(Photos General) PinkFairyArmadillo.jpgThere are creatures on this earth whose roles are mysterious to me.  For a long time I disliked skunks.  Now I think they exist to provide us with funny skunk stories.  Two weeks ago we had a chance to learn more about newts at Rancho del Oso.  Now Christine has come up with a real, rare, miniature creature --a pink fairy armadillo. Why are they on this earth?

"Everyone" has an opinion on what kind of kindergarten program is good for children.  Annie cites some research that sheds some light on what is happening in kindergartens.

It's a pleasure to share the writings of several caring, local bloggers who think and write about their experiences in the hopes of sharing a nugget of wisdom that inspires us to parent consciously. Thank you Suki, Viva, Lorraine, Christine, Annie and Steve.  We never know which phrase may turn a life in a different path.

Happy Spring! Parmalee

 

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  Is Kindergarten Too Hard? Or Not Hard Enough?

Is kindergarten getting to be too academically challenging-or not challenging enough?

Here on the Brilliant Blog, I've written about concerns that many kindergarten classes are becoming too academically oriented, with too little time allocated for imaginative and unstructured play.

But I've also written about concerns that kindergarteners are being taught material that they already know.

Building on that last point, I was intrigued to read this commentary by Camilla Benbow, a professor of education and human development at Vanderbilt University's Peabody College. Research by her Vanderbilt colleague Mimi Engel (working with Amy Claessens of the University of Chicago) suggests that kindergarteners are being taught material that is too easy, Benbow writes:

"Students who had attended preschool simply did not benefit from continued exposure in kindergarten to basic content. Instead, the researchers found that the students did better in reading and math when they were taught more advanced content. Importantly, the learning gains from exposure to advanced content also held up for students from families with low incomes.

The study classified math or reading content as basic or advanced by whether a majority of children had mastered it at the start of kindergarten. Basic math included items like counting out loud, recognizing numbers and corresponding quantities, recognizing shapes, and sorting and ordering objects. Advanced math included activities like recognizing two-digit numbers, understanding place value or adding and subtracting single digits.

Basic reading items included alphabet and letter recognition, learning the names of the letters, and practicing writing letters and writing one's own name. Advanced reading included matching letters to sounds, phonics, learning common prepositions, using context cues for comprehension and reading aloud or silently.

Simply put, more challenging kindergarten content did not seem to hold anyone back. Even children who had not mastered basic material by the start of kindergarten nevertheless improved their learning when more advanced concepts were taught in the classroom."

Benbow does address the worries of some parents and educators that kindergarten is becoming too rigorous:

"Parents and others concerned that kindergarten should include generous portions of play and time to build classroom social skills would not have to see that valuable time sacrificed. Based on their findings, the authors write, "Time on advanced content could be increased while time on basic content is reduced without the need to increase overall instructional time.'"

In general, I place myself in the camp of those who believe that young children need a lot of time to play and socialize-that's how they learn best. (See this excellent article by Alison Gopnik in Slate.) But if we are going to spend some time teaching math and reading to kindergarteners, it doesn't seem to make sense to go over stuff they've already learned. That sounds like a recipe for bored, unmotivated students.

Brilliant readers, what do you think? Is kindergarten too academically challenging for kids these days-or not challenging enough?  Annie Murphy Paul

 

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  Suki: Firmament

(Photos General) SukiWessling2013.jpgMost of life goes on as we plan. We make our to do lists and write events on our calendars, and for the most part we keep with the program. Occasionally I find myself deleting something from a to do list that I realize I am never actually going to do. And relatively often, usually late in the day, I beg off on something I'd wanted to do but is just one too many events for that day.

But then there are those hiccups in life that push everything else aside. Ours came in the middle of the night last week, when our phone rang with the caller ID displaying my husband's mother's name.

I was the one who picked up. I knew, as soon as I heard the tone of her home care provider, Pamela, what the news was going to be.  Continue>>>

 

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  Christine: Pink Fairy Armadillo

(Photos General) Pink-fairy-armadillo-burrowing.jpgI'm sure you woke up today wanting to see a Pink Fairy Armadillo. I'll admit that I didn't really believe that it was real. My husband feels that this would be a wonderful name for a heavy metal rock band. However, it is a real creature.

These seem to be really rare. We don't know how rare - I'll get to that. They live in the dry country of central Argentina. They have a head and body length of 84 to 117 mm (3.3 to 4.6 in) and a tail length of 27 to 35 mm (1.1 to 1.4 in). In other words, one can sit on the palm of your hand. They are the smallest armadillo and, like all armadillos, they are anteaters.

Now it gets interesting...   Read more>>>>

Christine is a local mom and scientist who makes the mysteries and complexities of science easier to understand.  You can read more of Christine's science explanations here!

  This Week

(BUILT IN) (Icons/Graphics) Text_Calendar.jpg(Ads) SantaCruzParentFacebook.jpgBelow is only a partial list of upcoming events and activities so be sure to click on our EVENT CALENDAR so you do not miss anything >>

Use the PARENT PLANNER to click on events and resources you are interested in and click PRINT MY PLANNER to print or email your list.

 

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School Corner

WPENS, Westside Parent Education Nursery School, Open House 3/24

 

 

Mount Madonna School Pre-K- 12, Cultural Awareness and Grandparents & Special Friends Recogntion Day 3/27

 

 

Orchard School K-6, CircOrchard, Children's Circus Performance 3/28 & 29

 

 

Santa Cruz Waldorf & 4/8School K-8, Quartetto Volare Concert, 3/24

 

 

Chartwell School and The New High School K-12 Two Open Houses, 4/5 & 4/8

 

 

Chartwell School and The New High School K-12. Free Workshop: "Emotional Literacy, Dealing with Stress in an Academic Setting"

 

 

All School Activities

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 For Parents!

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Parenting Workshops

 

Support Groups

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 The Little Mermaid

 

(Books/Movies/Products) TheLittleMermaid2.jpgSanta Cruz Performing Arts
SCPA presents The Little Mermaid
Every Th, Fri and Sa (Mar 21-Mar 30) from 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Journey "under the sea" with Ariel and her aquatic friends in Disney's THE LITTLE MERMAID JR., adapted from Disney's 2008 Broadway production. In a magical underwater kingdom, the beautiful young mermaid Ariel longs to leave her ocean home - and her fins - behind and live in the world above. But first she'll have to defy her father King Triton, make a deal with the evil sea witch Ursula, and convince the handsome Prince Eric that she's the girl whose enchanting voice he's been seeking.

Performances:

7:00 Friday, March 21
7:00 Saturday, March 22
2:00 Sunday, March 23
7:00 Friday, March 28
2:00 Saturday, March 29
7:00 Saturday, March 29
1:00 Sunday, March 30

Location: Bonita Building, 1940 Bonita Dr, Aptos Map
website Aptos

"Don't Duck, Look Up!"
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  "Don't Duck, Look Up!"
Hartnell College
Date: Every Fri (Mar 7-Mar 28) at 5:30pm
Details: Star shows for young children Pre-K - 3rd grade
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