Education: Cool things my kids are learning

Tracy Chappell's daughters are benefitting from some outside-the-box thinkers.
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Photo: iStockphoto

Follow along as Today’s Parent senior editor Tracy Chappell shares her refreshingly positive take on parenting her two young daughters. She’s been blogging her relatable experiences for our publication since 2005.

“Can we do yoga, Mommy?” Avery is searching for my mat in my home office. “I want to show you my new moves.”
I’ve never actually done yoga, but have shown my kids some “moves” from Pilates classes, which have many similarities. Avery pulls me out to the living room and unrolls the mat. “This is the one I’m practising most,” she says, putting her palms down on the mat, and kicking her legs behind her, landing on her knees. She tells me that they do yoga in their classroom in the afternoons and how much she loves it.

Read more: 4 easy yoga poses to do at home in 15 minutes >

I love that she does yoga in kindergarten, too. Knowing that her teachers are showing the kids this great way to stretch and breathe and focus, in this era of far too much time spent sitting, makes me so happy and reminds me of the different ways teachers are trying to address the overall wellbeing of their students. I keep hearing about family yoga classes, and it makes me want to find one. What a great activity with so many benefits that we can all enjoy together.

Over in grade two, Anna is becoming a social media maven. She takes her turn writing (anonymously) on their classroom blog, they have a class Twitter account, and utilize Skype to communicate with other students all over the world. I was amazed when she started telling me the cool things they were doing (and I can also check some of it out for myself).

When they were studying parts of a story, they used Twitter to write one with a second grade class from Greeneville, Tennessee, each classroom taking a turn to further the tale, 140 characters at a time. They’ve Skyped with a class in New Zealand, and are about to embark on a “Mystery Skype” during which the students on each end of the call have to use good questions to try to guess the location of the other students. I love that Anna’s teacher is exposing her to social media in a kid-friendly, controlled way (which I’m not sure how to approach myself), helping the kids understand that there’s a big world out there, full of interesting people, places and opinions, and incorporating it into their classroom learning.

Read more: Maximizing your child’s learning potential >

Anna’s class has also participated in a financial literacy workshop, which helped explain how banks work, what ATMs are (how many of our kids believe that we can buy anything we want—just break out the bank card?), the importance of budgeting and the difference between needs and wants. Anna also told me one night at bedtime that they do “meditations” in class sometimes, and described how her teacher will get them to close their eyes and she’ll tell them a story with visualizations. Anna asked me if we could do them at home sometime. Such a great idea. I’m going to look up some guided meditations for us to do at bedtime, as she obviously feels the benefits.

They are doing other great stuff—digging for dinosaur bones, building things out of three-dimensional shapes, getting the chance to read things for morning announcements—but it’s great to see their enthusiasm for some of the less-expected lessons going on during their school days.

I know I’ve written recently complaining about all the things our kids aren’t learning at school these days, so I wanted to make a point of sharing some of the ways teachers are going out of their way to make school interesting and exciting for our kids, using creative ways to help prepare them for the road ahead, both academically and spiritually. If my kids are any indication, a great love of school is the natural consequence.

What cool things do your kids’ teachers do to make learning fun?

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