Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mid-year break

The holidays are a time when we want to allow our students to take a break from school. The reality is that their brains do need to rest a bit from the more difficult course work of 6th grade. Another reality is that we don’t want their brains to turn to mush, sitting idle during the holidays.
One way to keep your child’s brain engaged during the holiday break, without forcing her to do actual school work is to have her engage in creative endeavors that reflect the time of year.
There are many crafts that can be done, from making Christmas ornaments to cooking. The holiday season is a great time to get your 6th grader in the kitchen, following directions, using math to figure out recipes, understanding the science behind leavening agents, and elapsed time between putting an item in the oven and taking it out. The great part about this is a lot of great tasting results come from these learning…err…fun projects!
Other learning/fun projects might be photography, scrap booking, or music in the form of singing or listening to recorded music. All of these things can be exciting, and engaging. And they will prevent your child’s brain from turning to mush, while giving them time off from their academic subjects. This type of learning period will help your child come back fresh and ready for regular school subjects after the holiday break.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Economics, budgets, and planning

Economics, supply and demand, and budgets are ideas that are taught in middle school social studies. Again, this is one of those combination lessons, math and social studies. It is not too early for your 6th grader to begin learning that there is a limited amount of money to go around, that things have value, and that a budget can help make dreams come true.
While we try to protect our children from the real world, some things are hard and true facts. There is a limited amount of money to go around. While it would be great for your child to give her best friend a new laptop for Christmas, the reality is that it is out of the budget.
Sixth graders need to learn to have a budget, and how to spend the money the earn or are given. With the holiday season approaching, gift giving needs to be carefully planned. We helped my daughter with this by having her make a list of who she wanted to buy gifts for, how much she had to spend, and how much she money she wanted to put aside for savings and charitable giving.
We then got her a prepaid credit card containing the amount she decided to spend. We had her keep the receipts, do the math of how much was spent and how much was left after each transaction. When the card hit zero, she knew that there was no more money in her budget. Learning to live within her means was a painful lesson, but one that was much less painful as a 6th grader than it would be as an adult.