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Archives - June 2016

Tips to Help Your Preschooler Increase Attention Span

June 30, 2016
By Tate's School

by Jane Cowan

Many times as I am going over the results of a preschool screening, the parents will
ask if their preschooler's seemingly short attention span is normal. One father recently
stated that he thought it would be easier to get the family cat to focus on a given activity!

While it certainly seems that our youngest students have a brief attention span at
best, in fact, they are typically right on target for their developmental stage. A good rule
of thumb to calculate how long your child should be able to focus on an activity, without
adult interaction or direction, is to add the chronological year + 1 minute. (For example a 2
year old would be 2 + 1 minute = 3 minutes. Remember, a chosen activity, one the child
picks out, is much more likely to be attended to longer than one chosen for him by a parent
or other adult!

Good news! Just because this may be the "typical" length of time a youngster can
focus, it certainly doesn't mean that one cannot increase their attention span! Our
teachers often have the children in our preschool attending to a given task for 10 to 15
minutes or more. Many factors come into play, and there are many things you can do to
help this development along.

  • Present your child with fewer items and choices. Too many toys to play with and choices to make are extremely distracting to this age group.
  • Don't hover. Get your child stated by getting him excited about the activity or toy, and then back off. Too many times, adults interact too much and try to lead the child's play. Allow your child to play and explore on their own and thus increase not only their attention span, but also their creativity.
  • Busy yourself close by while your little one is playing. Often they just want to be near you, they don't necessarily want your input into their play. Children of this age will usually be much more content to play for longer stretches if they are not expected to play away from you - such as in a playroom or their bedroom while you work in the kitchen or home off ice.
  • This applies to clean up time too! Often the child simply doesn't know where to begin. You can help by asking them to pick up all of one item and then come and get you. (''It's time to tidy up. Start by putting all of the super heroes in this bin, and then come and get me, and we will figure out what to do next!") Offer plenty of praise for their effort.
  • Read to your child daily. If she gets tired of the book before it's finished, say "Let's keep reading another couple of pages to see what happens to ",or "What do you think is going to happen next?, Let's find out!" Ask questions along the way and talk about the pictures with your child as you go.
  • Limit screen time. Yes, little ones are naturally drawn to computers, phones, iPads, etc., but realize that these wonderful items of technology teach not only educational content, but also the need for instant gratification and feedback. They can be fantastic teaching tools, but they should be utilized in very short spans, and always with adult interaction.
  • Take note of the environment. Children are easily distracted and overstimulated by excess visuals and sounds. Turn the TV off and allow the child to play in a calm environment when possible. While complete quiet isn't necessary, neither is a constant party atmosphere!
  • Refrain from over programming your child's day. Quite simply, let your child have time in their day where they are looking for something to do. If we constantly provide a new activity as soon as another ends, it is no wonder that they are always rushing from one activity to the next and constantly looking for the next best thing. Remember a child can always come up with something to hold their attention if no one fills the void. Sit back and observe from a distance, and you may just be surprised at what they will come up with! And, as stated before, if it is a chosen activity - one they have come up with- they will attend MUCH longer!
  • And remember, young toddlers and preschoolers often lose interest when they become frustrated with an activity because it is too challenging. If this seems to be the case, step in and help them figure out the part that is difficult. Often, with just a tiny bit of direction and teaching - not to be confused with doing it for them - they will pick it up and continue doing it repeatedly until mastery!
  • Above all, remember that all children develop at their own pace. Not all will walk, talk, tie their shoes, or read at the same age; and you can rest assured that they won't develop their attention spans at the same pace either! Whether your child attends for great lengths of time or flits from one activity to another, they can all increase the attention span they currently possess. Enjoy them at whatever stage they are in - it won't last long!

Summer Learning Tip: Melissa Carey

June 23, 2016
By Tate's School

Melissa Carey, 5th Grade

Math and science are all around us! A fun and super simple way to keep our student’s math and science skills sharp during the summer months is to challenge them to point out and discuss things in our surroundings which remind them of math or science. We can make it a game by taking turns and asking each other questions. Seeing how we view math and science in the world around us will encourage our students.

This activity can be adjusted to any skill level! Preschoolers might begin by finding simple shapes and discussing their characteristics. (a tire is a circle, it’s round and has no edges or corners) Older students might notice the ice maker works due to unseen engineering and physical changes in the states of matter of water due to temperature. These conversations can lead to lots of fun and an engaging appreciation of math and science.

Tate’s Students Excel at Tate’s Regional Elementary Science Fair

June 13, 2016
By Tate's School

As the first elementary school in the state of Tennessee to become a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) campus, Tate’s School has long believed in fostering science in the community. On Monday, April 11, 2016 elementary school students from schools in the Knoxville area gathered for the 16th Annual Tate’s Regional Science Fair. Tate’s Foundation and TN Bank hosted the 16th Regional Elementary Science Fair. Judges from Science, Technology, and Engineering professions judged entries from 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students throughout the day to determine the winners. Students submitted their projects in one of three categories (Earth, Life or Physical Science) and completed an in-depth interview with a panel of judges. “Tate’s Science Fair can show even the youngest students that science can be fun. As a judge I most enjoy meeting these students, because they are excited about their experiments and have, so clearly, put forth their best effort, “said Mary Halley, a Tate’s School parent, judge and water resources engineer with Amec Foster Wheeler.

Numerous Tate’s students took home awards and top honors. Tate’s fourth grade student, June Jung, won first place in the fourth grade Physical Science category and also took overall 1st Place Grand Prize winner with her project “Fantastic Plastic From Milk”! Tate’s fifth grade student, Alex Choi, also took top honors winning first place in the fifth grade Physical Science category and also winning 2nd Place Grand Prize! In Earth Science Jack Ryan won first place for “A Force To Be Reckoned With”. Second place honors went to Kolbe Pick for “Pineapple Project” and third place went to Pete Clark for “Dirty Business”. Stephen Chase received an Honorable Mention for “Boaring Bots”. Tate’s third grade students made a strong showing in Life and Physical Science. Taking second place was Christian Reynolds for “Gotta Grow Fast” followed by Grace Page winning third place for “Ant ISweet”. In third grade Physical Science, Miles Iverson took first place with his project “Keep Your Cool”. Jackson White’s “May the Force Be With You” was awarded second place and Samuel Sluder won third place for “Tractor Factor”. It was a fantastic night for Tate’s third grade students! Tate’s 4th grade students also excelled! Following in first place Physical Science winner June Jung’s footsteps, Alisa Apostoaei took second place honors in the Physical Science category with her multi-award winning project, “Satisfying Siege”. Three Tate’s students won in the Life Science category. Arial Lapsa won second place for “Cool Egg Substitutes”, Keylor Piers won third place for “Taste De-Cider”, and James Robert Long won Honorable mention for “Test Your Memory”. In the Earth Science category, Evan Lyke took top honors with her first place project “Sand Secrets” while Charley Edgemon won third place for “Cook’n It Up”. Way to go 4th grade students! Tate’s 5th grade students rounded out the night by taking home honors in both the Earth and Physical Science categories. In Earth Science, Emma Cabbage won Honorable

Mention for “Will Winter Work Wonderfully?” In the Physical Science category Alex Choi was awarded first place for “Leaf Me Some Energy”, Andrew Catchpole won third place for “Sonorous Science” followed by Marlee Jenkins winning Honorable Mention for “The Two Ply Test”. Tate’s School is proud of these students and their hard work!

Other Awards Included:

  • Alisa Apostoaei: Sir Issac Newton Award for Motion
  • Jacob Tyo: Pac- Man Award for Outstanding Video Game Project
  • Bree Melhorn: Charles E. Pellow Award for Outstanding Project Related to Color
  • Cole Chiles and Jonah Uphoff: The Bill Nye Award for Best / Inventive Question
  • Andrew Catchpole: Benjamin Franklin Award for Outstanding Music Project
  • Ashlyn Rohlander: George Lucas Award for Vision
  • Nina Theis: Hedy Lamarr Award for Energy
  • Haley Yager & Ryann Winterbotham: The Sir Francis Bacon Award for Food Science
  • Erin Ryan: Scott Carpenter Award for a project that is “Out of This World”
  • Jackson White: 3rd Grade Mesa Engineering Award for Excellence
  • Emma Cabage: 5th Grade Mesa Engineering Award for Excellence

Summer Learning Tip: Kaye Simmons

June 08, 2016
By Tate's School

Kaye Simmons, Principal

One of the best things you can do over the summer to encourage children in their learning is to spend time in the great outdoors! Research has proven again and again that experiences gained through outdoor activities are beneficial to children academically, emotionally, and physically.

Time spent outdoors engaging in exploration and physically challenging activities fosters children’s confidence, creativity, independence, and ability to be resilient. That is why Tate’s School has dedicated much of its 52 acres as outdoor learning space, incorporating the teaching garden, apple orchard, pond, and forest areas into lessons daily.

Here in Knoxville we are so blessed to have many resources for outdoor learning, from hiking in the Smoky Mountains, to summer sports like golf, tennis, and swimming, and of course, Tate’s Day Camp with zip lining, ropes course, boating, fishing, and archery, just to name a few.

If you’re planning on staying closer to home this summer, create some DIY projects for the children outdoors. Organic gardening is a great activity and can be done in planter boxes or large pots. Children can help select the seeds and soil, help with the digging and planting, and help care for the plants as they grow. You can have such wonderful discussions about the science of plants, where fruits and vegetables come from and how they help us grow, or how the children can positively impact the environment through growing plants free of chemical fertilizers. The best part of gardening is that it will be time spent with you, their parents, and that is what children want more than anything.

Take care and enjoy your summer!!

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