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  • TCA Summer Reading Program

    Posted by Tisha Harris on 6/3/2024

    TCA’s summer reading program is an effective way to encourage academic enrichment. It offers a range of benefits to students of all ages. These programs are not just about keeping children occupied during the long break. The reading lists are a strategic approach to combating the summer slide, fostering a love for reading, and developing critical thinking skills. Below, we explore the general advantages of summer reading programs before exploring the specific benefits they offer to elementary, middle school, and high school students.

    General Benefits of Summer Reading Programs

    Combating the Summer Slide

    The "summer slide" or “summer setback” refers to the loss of knowledge and academic skills over the summer break. Summer reading programs effectively mitigate this phenomenon by keeping students engaged with learning. Regular reading during the break ensures that skills acquired during the school year are maintained and even enhanced.

    Enhancing Reading Skills

    Consistent reading practice improves vocabulary, comprehension, and speed. These programs offer a structured environment for this practice, often tailored to each student's reading level, which maximizes progress and boosts confidence. A survey of parents was conducted by the Colorado State Library. 59% of families participating in a summer reading program for the first time reported an increase in their child’s reading skills. 49% of all families reported an increase in reading skills.

    Cultivating a Lifelong Love for Reading

    By introducing students to a wide range of genres and topics, summer reading programs can ignite a passion for reading that lasts a lifetime. This love for reading is not only beneficial academically but also for personal development, providing a means for continuous learning and escape. The study cited above found that 61% of first-time families reported an increase in their child’s enjoyment of reading and a 60% increase in the child's reading by choice.

    Benefits for Elementary Students

    Building a Strong Foundation

    “It is in the lap of the parent that a child first explores the universe of the printed page.  Children of all ages must be immersed in the world of literature.”- Charlotte Mason

    For young learners, summer reading programs lay the groundwork for strong literacy skills. Through engaging activities and stories, they develop phonemic awareness, vocabulary, and comprehension skills - the pillars of reading proficiency.

    Boosting Confidence

    At this formative stage, gaining confidence in their reading abilities can have a significant impact on children's overall academic performance and attitude toward learning. Positive reinforcement and achievements in reading during the summer can lead to a more confident start to the new school year. 59% of families reported an increase in reading skills in children ages 4-6.

    Encouraging Creativity and Imagination

    The imaginative worlds found in books for young readers stimulate creativity and expand their understanding of the world. This exposure to diverse settings, characters, and scenarios fosters a creative mindset and empathy.

    The TCA reading lists are carefully cultivated to be the most advantageous to the student, not only at their current level but for the upcoming academic year. Many years provide some latitude in book selection to keep students engaged. Elementary-level books can range from classics by A.A. Milne and Beatrix Potter for rising first-grade students to Anne of Green Gables or Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry for older students approaching middle school.

    Benefits for Middle School Students

    Advancing Critical Thinking Skills

    Middle school students are at a crucial juncture where reading can significantly enhance their analytical skills. Summer reading programs that include discussions and activities related to the books read promote critical thinking and comprehension.

    Preparing for Higher Academic Demands

    The transition from elementary to middle school comes with increased academic expectations. Summer reading keeps students academically engaged, helping to smooth this transition and prepare them for the challenges ahead.

    Promoting Independence and Responsibility

    Middle schoolers are encouraged to take more responsibility for their learning in summer reading programs. Choosing their books and managing their reading schedule fosters a sense of independence and self-discipline. To that end, rising 7th and 8th  graders are given 1 mandatory book to read and a list from which they choose the 2nd book.

    Benefits for High School Students

    Enhancing Academic and College Preparation

    For high school students, summer reading can be directly aligned with their academic goals, such as SAT preparation or exploring potential majors. This targeted reading helps build the advanced literacy skills required for college and beyond. We also have a separate reading list for 11th-grade students taking Honors American Literature and 12th-grade students taking AP Literature.

    Expanding Worldviews and Empathy

    Books have the power to transport readers to different cultures, historical periods, and perspectives. High school students, standing on the precipice of adulthood, benefit greatly from this expanded understanding, which cultivates empathy and a more nuanced view of the world. Summer reading program selections in high school can range from Homer’s classic “The Odyssey” to Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi”

    Supporting Career Exploration

    High school students are beginning to consider their future careers, and summer reading can play a pivotal role in this exploration. Reading about various professions and industries can inspire career aspirations and inform future educational choices.

    Summer reading programs offer invaluable benefits across all educational stages. From laying a solid foundation in elementary school to preparing for college and a career in high school, these programs play a pivotal role in student's academic journey and personal growth. By engaging in summer reading, students not only prevent the summer slide but also embark on a lifelong journey of learning and discovery.

    Bookshelf with books

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  • Overcoming Performance Anxiety: Tips for Students and Parents

    Posted by Tisha Harris on 5/1/2024

    If you've ever felt your heart race, palms sweat, and knees wobble at the mere thought of a final test or public speaking, don't worry – you're not alone! The fear of public speaking, known as glossophobia, is very common. It’s estimated that 75% of people have this fear to one degree or another. Test Anxiety affects between 10% and 40% of students. Performance anxiety affects people of all ages, but it's particularly common among high school and college students or young adults in the workplace. We’re here to share some fantastic tips to help you conquer those nerves and shine on stage or in class.

    Embrace the Butterflies

    It's normal to feel anxious before speaking in front of others. The same goes for test preparation. Instead of seeing it as a weakness, view it as a sign that you care about doing well. Embrace those butterflies in your stomach; they are your body's way of preparing for a great performance!

    Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

    Preparation is key to reducing anxiety. Familiarize yourself with the content and practice regularly. Rehearse in front of a mirror, with friends, or family. Study with friends and challenge each other. The more prepared you are, the more confident you'll feel, and confidence is the opposite of fear.

    Know Your Audience

    When it comes to public speaking or classroom presentations, understanding your audience is important. Tailor your message to resonate with them. This connection can make you feel more at ease and feel like you're speaking to friends rather than strangers.

    Start Small

    If you're new to public speaking, don't start with a massive crowd. Practice with a couple of friends. If you can, increase the number gradually. As you increase the audience size, you’ll gain confidence. The same principle applies to testing. Take practice quizzes, then move into full practice tests. This allows you to experience the feel of ‘the real thing’ before it happens.

    Visualization Techniques

    Athletes have been using visualization to overcome performance anxiety for decades. Picture yourself acing the exam or presentation. Imagine positive feedback, maybe even applause. Visualization can help build self-assurance and reduce anxiety.

    Breathe and Relax

    When the nerves start to kick in, breathing exercises can help. The 4-7-8 breathing exercise is a commonly recommended one. Harvard University published a blog to help their students understand how to use breathing to ease anxiety. Incorporating breathing exercises into daily routines serves as an invaluable coping mechanism. This practice fosters a heightened awareness of the present moment, facilitating emotional regulation and stress reduction. Deep breathing, as a relaxation technique, can be effortlessly integrated into moments of heightened stress, providing immediate relief.

    Focus on Your Mission, Not Yourself

    Shift your internal focus away from yourself and towards your mission. For speaking, concentrate on delivering value to your audience. When you care about what you're saying, anxiety tends to take a backseat. As it applies to testing, focus on understanding the question fully, then applying the learning you have already done in preparation.

    Engage with Your Audience

    During presentations, interact with your audience to create a more dynamic atmosphere. Ask questions, encourage participation, or share relatable anecdotes. Engaging with others can ease tension and make the experience enjoyable for everyone. Not only does it help with your anxiety, but it makes your audience feel more interested.

    Make Mistakes Gracefully

    No one is perfect, and that's okay! If you stumble or make a mistake, don't let it derail you. Acknowledge it, laugh it off, and keep going. Remember, your audience is on your side and wants you to succeed.

    Re-frame Negative Thoughts

    Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Instead of thinking, "What if I mess up?" say to yourself, "I've prepared well, and I can do this!" Here is a guide to cognitive reframing exercises that can help you apply one to your situation.

    Celebrate Your Successes

    Each time you conquer performance anxiety and deliver a successful presentation or ace an exam, pat yourself on the back! Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. It's all part of your growth journey.

    Remember, public speaking and taking exams are skills that can be developed with time and practice. Be patient with yourself, and don't be too hard on your first few attempts. Embrace the learning process and know that everyone deals with anxiety. So, go out there and nail that presentation or test!

    Hand holding pencil to fill in test

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  • Curriculum Days at TCA

    Posted by Tisha Harris on 4/1/2024

    At The Classical Academy (TCA), our elementary students enjoy a series of events called Curriculum Days. Each grade level has its own unique Days that match the subjects they are studying during the year. These events help students reinforce their learning in a fun and immersive way. 

    How Do Curriculum Days Work?

    Curriculum days are special, hands-on learning events that serve as a culmination of key units of study. These days provide opportunities for students to immerse themselves in the history they have been studying and to experience the culture, the people, and the traditions of that period. Students dress as people from the time period and participate in activities that provide an authentic look at the people, places, and events.

    Kindergarten

    In kindergarten, the focus is on laying a solid foundation for future learning. Our kindergarten students enjoy multiple Curriculum Days during the year.  Mother Goose and Dr. Seuss Days celebrate amazing literature and characters.  The thanksgiving feast and Mother’s Day tea help kindergarten students learn about current holidays and share those times with family. Kindergarten students spend their 100th day of school discovering numbers and their importance. Through engaging activities and stories, students are not just taught, but they actively participate in their learning, making connections between the classroom and the world around them.

    First Grade

    As students progress to first grade, they continue to expand their horizons. First-grade students have three Curriculum Days:  Egyptian Day, Colonial Day, and an Archeological dig. Learning becomes an adventure as students don their archaeological clothing and embark on a dig, bringing history and science to life. Past cultures are explored, and their history becomes more vivid through various crafts and activities that were common in those time periods.  

    Second Grade

    The four Curriculum Days for second grade cover topics in US and world history. This helps students deepen their understanding of the world around them. They explore major world religions, gaining insights into different cultures and belief systems. Ancient civilizations such as Greece and China are explored. Students also delve into the history of their own country, learning about the foundation of the U.S. government and the pioneers who shaped its expansion westward. Curriculum days for 2nd grade include Constitution Day, Pioneer Day, Immigration Day and A Trip Around the World.

    Third Grade

    Third-grade students study Ancient Rome and the Vikings, learning about the challenges faced by these civilizations and how they overcame them. Each unit ends with a trip through Roman and Viking curriculum days. Through the study of history, students gain valuable insights into the human experience, discovering the importance of resilience in the face of adversity. They also explore the age of exploration, uncovering the stories of adventurers like Columbus and the spirit of discovery that drove them forward. This period of exploration serves as a reminder that challenges are an inherent part of life, but with resilience and determination, they can be overcome.

    Fourth Grade

    In fourth grade, students delve into the Middle Ages, a time of knights, castles, and feudalism. This creates a deeper understanding of medieval society. They also explore colonial America, learning about the early settlers and the foundations of the United States government. Students choose one historical figure, learn in-depth information, and bring that person to life through costumes, reports, and a living museum. Fourth graders continue to deepen their understanding of human biology, exploring concepts such as digestion and the importance of organs like the heart and lungs. Three curriculum days include Medieval Day, Patriots Day, and Science Share Day.

    Fifth Grade

    Fifth grade dives into the Renaissance period, exploring the rebirth of art, science, and humanism in Europe. Through the study of influential figures like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Galileo, students gain insights into the transformative power of ideas and innovation. They also examine the impact of the Renaissance on society, politics, and philosophy, recognizing its enduring legacy in the modern world. Fifth graders also explore the wonders of the universe, studying astronomy and the discoveries of Copernicus and Galileo. This exploration of the cosmos inspires awe and curiosity, encouraging students to question, wonder, and seek truth in the world around them. Fifth Grade Curriculum Days are Explorer and Renaissance Day.

    Sixth Grade

    The final year of elementary school prepares for the transition to secondary education. Students revisit myths and legends from earlier grades, deepening their understanding and appreciation of ancient storytelling traditions. Journeying with Odysseus and his men, students explore themes of heroism, adventure, and the human condition. Students also learn about the importance of Spanish language and culture in our society. As they prepare to move forward, students are equipped with a solid foundation of knowledge, critical thinking skills, and a passion for learning. The sixth grade has two days that include Olympics and Viva Spanish Day.

    The educators at TCA view guiding students through this educational journey as both a privilege and a responsibility. Our teachers strive to create an environment where curiosity is nurtured, questions are encouraged, and knowledge is actively constructed. We recognize the importance of fostering a love for learning in each student, inspiring them to explore, inquire, and discover.

    If you would like to know more about the Curriculum Days or how you can be an active partner in your student’s education, please contact us.

     

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  • The Timeless Skill of Cursive Writing

    Posted by Tisha Harris on 3/1/2024

    The art of cursive writing may seem like a relic of the past to some people. However, the importance of cursive extends beyond penmanship. Cursive writing is taught at TCA in second grade.

    In today's digital age, where typing and texting dominate communication, the art of cursive writing may seem like a relic of the past to some people. However, the importance of children learning cursive extends far beyond mere penmanship. This timeless skill not only fosters a connection to history but also plays an important role in cognitive development, enhancing various aspects of a student's learning journey.

    Historical Continuity

    Cursive writing is a form of artistic expression that has stood the test of time. Learning this skill provides children with a unique connection to historical documents, enabling them to decipher handwritten letters and documents from the past. By mastering cursive, children gain the ability to read historical artifacts, fostering an appreciation for the evolution of language and communication.

    Personal Identity

    Cursive writing also carries a personal touch that distinguishes one's identity. A handwritten signature, for instance, is a hallmark of individuality. Encouraging children to learn cursive ensures they can craft their distinctive signatures, contributing to a sense of personal identity and pride in their abilities.

    Fine Motor Skills and Hand-Eye Coordination

    One of the undeniable benefits of cursive writing is its positive impact on fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. The intricate loops and curves inherent in cursive letters demand precision and control. As children practice forming these elaborate shapes, they refine their fine motor skills, enhancing their dexterity.

    Cursive writing requires a smooth coordination between the hand and the eye. As children engage in the fluid movements required to connect cursive letters, they develop a heightened sense of spatial awareness and refine their hand-eye coordination. These foundational skills are crucial for future academic pursuits and everyday tasks.

    Enhanced Reading and Academic Proficiency

    Studies have shown a positive correlation between cursive writing and improved reading skills. The rhythmic flow of cursive letters aids in the development of letter recognition and retention. When children practice connecting letters in cursive, it reinforces their understanding of letter sequences, leading to increased reading fluency.

    Furthermore, the act of writing in cursive engages different parts of the brain compared to typing or printing. This unique cognitive engagement has been linked to improved information processing and retention. As children navigate the intricacies of cursive, they stimulate brain regions associated with language and memory, laying a robust foundation for academic success.

    Boosting Creativity and Self-Expression

    Beyond the confines of standardized testing and structured curricula, cursive writing provides an avenue for self-expression. It is, in some respects, an art form. Encouraging children to experiment with different styles of cursive enhances their creative abilities.

    Children can use cursive to bring their thoughts and ideas to life, creating a tangible representation of their unique voice. The freedom to infuse personal flair into their writing fosters a sense of ownership and pride in their work. This not only boosts confidence but also nurtures a lifelong appreciation for the art of written expression.

    Encouraging Patience and Perseverance

    Learning cursive is a journey that requires patience and perseverance. The intricacies of mastering each cursive letter and connecting them into words demand practice and dedication. In an era of instant gratification, instilling the value of persistence through cursive writing is a valuable life lesson.

    As children navigate the challenges of learning cursive, they develop resilience in the face of difficulties. Overcoming the initial hurdles of forming unfamiliar shapes instills a sense of accomplishment, reinforcing the idea that perseverance leads to mastery. These lessons extend beyond the realm of writing, shaping a mindset that embraces challenges with confidence.

    Embracing the Timeless Craft

    The importance of children learning cursive writing extends well beyond the confines of traditional penmanship. It is a gateway to historical continuity, a catalyst for cognitive development, and a canvas for self-expression. Encouraging children to embrace the timeless craft of cursive not only equips them with essential skills but also encourages a love for the art of writing that will accompany them throughout their academic careers and beyond.

    We’re always here to help our TCA parents. If you need more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 719-484-0091.

    Cursive Writing example

     

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  • A Symphony of Benefits: Music and Fine Arts Education for Your Child

    Posted by Tisha Harris on 2/1/2024

    A Symphony of Benefits: Music and Fine Arts Education for Your Child

    In the pursuit of nurturing well-rounded, exemplary citizens, the importance of music and fine arts education for students cannot be overstated. Let's explore the myriad ways in which these creative disciplines contribute to your child's holistic development.

    Cultivating Cognitive Development Through Music

    Academic Performance: Numerous studies consistently affirm the positive correlation between music education and academic success. Engaging in the intricacies of musical composition sharpens critical thinking, problem-solving, and mathematical skills. Some studies have indicated that students who have several years of musical education are as much as a year ahead of their nonmusical peers by 12th grade.

    Memory Mastery: Learning to play an instrument is like a workout for the brain's memory centers. The repetition and memorization involved not only enhance information retention but also boost overall cognitive capacity. Studies have shown that children who undergo musical training have better verbal memory.

    Tune into Language Skills: The world of music involves decoding notes, rhythms, and lyrics. This intricate process cultivates a heightened sensitivity to language nuances, leading to improved reading and verbal communication skills. This includes learning a second language.

    Fine Arts: A Palette of Emotional Intelligence

    Expressive Freedom: Art, be it through painting, drawing, or sculpting, provides a canvas for emotional expression. In a world where emotions can be complex, fine arts offer a safe way for your child to communicate and process feelings.

    Confidence Unleashed: Engaging in visual arts encourages experimentation and risk-taking. As your child explores different artistic mediums, they learn to embrace their unique perspectives and build confidence in their abilities. This newfound self-assurance benefits them in almost every aspect of their developing lives.

    Cultural Mosaic: Visual arts expose students to diverse cultures and perspectives, fostering empathy and cultural awareness. This exposure to a rich variety of artistic traditions contributes to a broader understanding of the world. Your child becomes a global citizen, appreciating the beauty in diversity.

    A Symphony of Social Skills

    Collaboration: Both music and fine arts education often involve collaborative projects, ensemble performances, and group exhibitions. These experiences instill essential teamwork and collaboration skills, teaching your child the value of working towards a common goal. The stage becomes a training ground for life's collaborative endeavors.

    Communication: Whether playing in an orchestra, acting in a play, or participating in an art exhibition, students involved in the arts develop robust communication skills. They learn to express themselves effectively and listen attentively. They also learn to both provide and accept constructive feedback—a skill set that extends beyond creative pursuits into all aspects of life.

    Discipline and Tempo: Mastering an instrument or honing an artistic technique demands discipline and time management. Students immersed in music and fine arts education naturally develop these crucial life skills, laying the foundation for future academic and professional triumphs.

    Embrace the Artistic Journey

    As parents, actively supporting and embracing your child's involvement in music and fine arts education is a gift that keeps on giving. Beyond notes and brushstrokes, they are creating a future rich in cognitive advancements, emotional intelligence, and invaluable social skills. The benefits derived from these creative pursuits resonate not only in the classroom but throughout their entire lives.

    Let their artistic journey unfold. Encourage your student to dance to the rhythm of their creative heartbeat. In the world of music and fine arts, they are not merely students—they are the composers of their own development symphony.

    If you would like to know more about our values and approach to education, please explore our website or contact our offices at 719-484-0091. We look forward to meeting you.

     

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  • Supporting Your Child's Literacy Development: Tips for Reading at Home

    Posted by Tisha Harris on 1/19/2024

    Many elements make up your child's education. Among those elements, literacy holds a pivotal role. In your position as a parent, you are key in shaping your child's academic journey. Here are some practical tips and insights on how you can nurture your child’s love for reading at home. Instilling a passion for reading early on not only propels academic success but often starts a lifelong love affair with learning. The love of learning is part of our Titan’s Creed.

    Creating a Space for Reading

    Begin by crafting a reading-friendly area at home. It doesn’t have to be an entire room. It could be a cozy corner dedicated to reading. Ensure there are no electronic screens, just a diverse array of age-appropriate books. The goal is to make books not just accessible but irresistible.

    Weaving Reading into Routine

    We have talked about the importance of routine before. Consistency is a great way to build solid reading habits. Whether it's a pre-bedtime ritual, a breakfast book journey, or a post-school escape into a world of words, having a routine adds structure and excitement to reading time. And remember, your active participation can make a big difference.

    Diverse Books for a Diverse World

    Expand your child's literary horizon by introducing a variety of books that introduce different cultures, perspectives, and genres. Letting your child handpick stories that capture their imagination can transform a trip to the library into a thrilling adventure. Variety not only enriches the reading experience but also broadens your student’s understanding of the world. This understanding aids in development as exemplary citizens.

    Reading Together, Growing Together

    You can make reading at home into more than a solitary activity. It can become an interactive journey. Dive into the story with your child, asking questions, dissecting plots, and delving into the characters. This not only boosts comprehension but also transforms reading into a shared, enjoyable experience. Share your thoughts and encourage your child to express theirs. You may be amazed at how insightful they can be.

    Be a Reading Role Model

    Children imitate those around them. Demonstrate your love for reading by incorporating it into your daily life. It doesn’t matter whether it's a novel, a magazine, or the morning newspaper, let your child witness your excitement for acquiring new knowledge. Modeling a positive reading attitude is a powerful influence.

    Celebrate Milestones, Big and Small

    Every reading achievement, no matter how small, deserves to be celebrated. From conquering a challenging book to mastering a set of new words, acknowledging these victories boosts your child's confidence and fuels their motivation. Consider a reading chart or a simple reward system to infuse fun into the learning process. This doesn’t just encourage the child to read, but it also teaches them about setting and achieving goals.

    Writing: The Other Side of Literacy

    Remember, literacy excellence isn't confined to reading alone. Encourage your child to explore the world of writing—be it through journaling, creating short stories, or even writing letters to friends and family. Writing activities provide a unique avenue for expression, strengthening language skills, and nurturing creativity. Writing skills also help students excel throughout their academic careers and beyond.

    Empowering the Reader Within

    We’re honored to be your partner in your student’s academic journey. Together, we can nurture a generation of confident and enthusiastic readers. If you need ideas or tips to encourage reading at home, our education professionals would be happy to help. Just reach out to us. Our office number is 719-484-0091 or email us at tcacontact@asd20.org.

    Reading at Home

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  • Creating a Positive Learning Environment at Home: Tips for Parents

    Posted by Tisha Harris on 12/20/2023

    Creating a Positive Learning Environment at Home: Tips for Parents

    A positive learning environment is important to a successful education. Whether you are a parent involved in our Cottage School Program or our full time program, when student’s get home, the environment you create for them can help to move their learning ahead. Believe it or not, creating that environment isn’t difficult. Here are a few ideas and tips that can help you assist your student.

    1. Create a Dedicated Learning Space

    Designate an area in your home specifically for learning. Whether it's a corner in the living room, a desk in the kitchen, or a small separate room, having a dedicated space helps signal that it's time to focus and learn. That helps your learning environment be more effective.

    2. Organize Supplies

    Keep all learning materials handy. Whether it is books or art supplies, having everything in one place saves time and minimizes distractions. A tidy space leads to a clear mind.

    3. Establish a Routine

    Establishing a routine can be a powerful learning tool. Children thrive on predictability and a set schedule can do wonders for their progress. To that end, set a daily schedule. Design one that suits your family and the needs of your children. Consistency is key, so try to have expected times for lessons, breaks, and activities.

    It is worth noting that while routines are important, make sure to mix it up. Incorporate different subjects and activities to keep things fresh and exciting.

    4. Encourage Independence

    Empower your children to take charge of their learning. This fosters a sense of responsibility and ownership. It can help to sometimes allow choices. When you can, offer a list of subjects or topics and let them choose.

    Always celebrate success. At the same time, encourage self-assessment. When they reach a milestone, celebrate it! This can build their confidence and strengthen their motivation. It can also make learning feel more fun.

    5. Be Patient and Flexible

    Homeschooling can sometimes be an unpredictable journey. Some days will be smooth sailing, while others might have a few bumps. It’s completely natural.

    Learning often involves making mistakes. Teach your children that it's okay to get things wrong; it's a natural part of the process. When they see you admit mistakes and take ownership of them, you are giving them a powerful lesson that helps them develop into exemplary citizens.

    Also, don’t be afraid to be flexible. Different children learn in different ways, and adapting to their needs is a big part of homeschooling. That adaptation not only helps them learn more effectively, but it also helps you grow your skills in aiding them.

    6. Foster Curiosity

    Encourage your children to be inquisitive. Curiosity is the spark that fuels lifelong learning. There are a few ways you can do this. One is to ask open-ended questions. These encourage critical thinking. "What do you think will happen if..." or "Why do you think this works that way..."

    Another way is to follow your children’s interests. If your children are curious about a specific topic, dive deep into it. It's amazing how much learning can happen when it's something they're passionate about. As a bonus, you may end up learning some new things too.

    7. Be a Learning Role Model

    Your attitude towards learning sets the tone. Be the best example for your children. One way is to show enthusiasm. When you're excited about a topic, your children are more likely to be as well. Share your enthusiasm and curiosity. Another way is to make learning a family affair. Explore new topics together, whether it's a DIY project, cooking a new recipe, or picking up a musical instrument. For example, a woodworking project can not only teach life skills, but it also shows your students the practical applications of math, visualization, reading comprehension, and good old attention to detail.

    8. Stay Connected with the Outside World

    Homeschooling doesn't mean isolation. A good learning environment can be in more than one place. Keep your children connected with the world. There are easy ways to keep them connected. Your family could enroll in our Cottage School Program, or engage in extracurricular activities like sports or performing arts to facilitate social interaction and learning.

    You can also discuss current events with your students at an age-appropriate level. It's a great way to develop critical thinking skills and encourage them to approach issues with logic.

    Homeschooling or supporting your children academically can be an incredibly rewarding experience. We hope these tips from our professional educators help you in your journey as your children’s primary educator or if you are supporting their learning in one of our classrooms. We’re always here to help our TCA parents. If you need more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 719-484-0091.

    students reading

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  • Promoting Healthy Sleep Habits for School Success

    Posted by Tisha Harris on 11/1/2023

    Promoting Healthy Sleep Habits for School Success

    Healthy sleep habits play a significant role in your child's academic success and overall well-being. In this discussion, we'll delve into the importance of fostering healthy sleep habits and provide valuable tips on how to make it happen. Let's get started on the journey to ensure your student gets the rest they need for school success.

    The Importance of Healthy Sleep

    Before we dive into the practical tips, let's take a moment to review why healthy sleep habits are essential for your child's school success at TCA.

    • Enhanced Learning and Memory: Adequate sleep is like a mental recharge. During deep sleep, the brain consolidates information, making it easier for your child to remember what they've learned during the day. When well-rested, children can absorb new concepts more effectively, leading to better academic performance.
    • Improved Concentration and Attention: Sleep directly impacts your student's ability to focus and stay attentive in the classroom. Insufficient sleep can lead to distractibility and difficulty in retaining information.
    • Emotional Well-being: Quality sleep contributes to emotional resilience. Well-rested children are better equipped to manage stress and handle the challenges they encounter at school.
    • Physical Health: Healthy sleep habits are linked to better physical health. Poor sleep can weaken the immune system, making children more susceptible to illnesses, and potentially leading to missed school days.

    Now that we've established why healthy sleep is crucial, let's explore some practical strategies you can use to ensure your child gets the sleep they need.

    Creating a Sleep-Conducive Environment

    • Consistent Bedtime Routine: Establish a regular bedtime routine and stick to it. Consistency signals to your child's body that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep. This routine could include activities like reading a book, taking a warm bath, or gentle stretching exercises.
    • Limit Screen Time: The blue light emitted by screens can disrupt sleep patterns. It can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. Encourage your child to turn off electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. Consider creating a charging station outside of their bedroom to eliminate the temptation to use screens late at night.
    • Comfortable Sleep Environment: Ensure your child's sleep space is comfortable. A comfortable mattress, suitable pillows, and proper room temperature can make a significant difference in their sleep quality.
    • Dim the Lights: In the hour leading up to bedtime, dim the lights in your home. This helps signal to your student's body that it's time to sleep. If your child is afraid of the dark, consider a nightlight with a soft, warm glow.
    • Dark Rooms: A dark room can increase the production of melatonin, enhance your child’s circadian rhythm, and promote a deeper, higher-quality sleeping time.

    Managing Sleep Schedule

    • Set a Consistent Wake-up Time: Just as important as a consistent bedtime is a regular wake-up time. Waking up at the same time each day helps regulate your child's internal clock.
    • Limit Naps: While naps are beneficial for younger children, they can interfere with nighttime sleep for older kids. If your student still needs a nap, keep it short (20-30 minutes) and earlier in the day.

    Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle

    • Limit Caffeine Intake: Caffeine, often found in sodas and energy drinks, can disrupt sleep. Limit your child's caffeine intake, especially in the afternoon and evening.
    • Encourage Physical Activity: Regular exercise can improve sleep quality. Encourage your student to engage in physical activities during the day but avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime.

    Monitor for Sleep Disorders

    • Keep an Eye on Sleep Quality: Pay attention to your child's sleep patterns and behaviors. If they consistently have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or exhibit symptoms like loud snoring or excessive daytime sleepiness, consider consulting your pediatrician. These could be signs of a sleep disorder that needs addressing.

    In conclusion, promoting healthy sleep habits is a crucial step in ensuring your child's success at school and overall well-being. By creating a sleep-conducive environment, managing sleep schedules, and promoting a healthy lifestyle, you can set your student on the path to academic excellence. Remember, consistency is key, and your guidance and support play a pivotal role in fostering these habits. You can find more information about healthy sleep habits from the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP)

    We hope you find these tips helpful in promoting healthy sleep habits for your child. If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. Together, we can ensure that your student is well-rested and ready to excel in their educational journey.

    Child Sleeping

     

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  • Embracing Focus: The Classical Academy's New Digital Health Policy

    Posted by Tisha Harris on 10/3/2023

    In the ever-evolving landscape of education, The Classical Academy takes pride in staying true to our founding values while embracing positive changes. This year, our updated cell phone policy reinforces our commitment to fostering an optimal learning environment for all our students.

    The Journey to Enhanced Focus

    Over the last decade, personal cell phones have been both a help and a challenge within our classrooms. While they have brought opportunities, they've also presented distractions that can impede the depth of learning and meaningful interactions. In light of this, the TCA Board, with valuable input from our school administration, has taken a countercultural stance. Starting this academic year, cell phones will not be permitted for use during school hours.

    A Philosophy that Shapes Change

    Our school's Core Values have always emphasized the mindful use of technology in education. Given the rising concerns highlighted by research regarding the impact of cell phones and social media on the learning process, we believe this policy change is a significant stride towards a more focused and enriched TCA experience.

    Positive Transformations Await

    The rationale behind this change is rooted in a deep understanding of the potential setbacks that excessive cell phone use can bring. While cell phones do provide benefits, we believe they are overshadowed by disruptions, reduced attention spans, and the impact on social and emotional well-being. Our new policy aims to address these concerns and offers numerous advantages:

    1. Diminished Distractions: By leaving cell phones secured and turned off during school hours, students can immerse themselves in their studies without the pull of digital distractions.
    2. Nurtured Relationships: Authentic connections thrive when students engage in face-to-face conversations, building meaningful relationships with peers and educators.
    3. Positive Mental Health: A break from constant screen exposure can contribute to healthier screen-time habits, reduce social media pressures, and support better mental well-being.
    4. Life Skills Cultivation: Learning to manage time and attention without relying on cell phones is a valuable life skill that prepares students for future success.

    Practical Implementation

    We understand that changes in our cell phone policy can raise questions. Starting from day one of the upcoming academic year, students are welcome to bring their cell phones to school. However, phones must be turned off and must be securely put away in lockers, backpacks, or bags during school hours. Students shall not access their phones from the start of classes until the student’s day is over (bell to bell). This policy ensures a focused and distraction-free classroom environment.

    The full version of this policy can be found in JICJ-TCA-B Board Policy Regarding Student Use of Cell Phones.

    Any consideration for medical exemptions should follow the processes outlined in JICJ-TCA-E Medical Exemption Form for Student Use of Cell Phones.

    Navigating Disciplinary Measures

    To ensure a smooth transition, we've designed a graduated response for infractions of the cell phone policy:

    1. 1st Offense: The student's phone will be held at the office, retrievable by the student at the end of the day.
    2. 2nd Offense: The phone will again be kept at the office, requiring parental retrieval at the day's end.
    3. 3rd Offense: Defiance will result in a one-day suspension.
    4. 4th Offense: Continued defiance will lead to a minimum three-day suspension.

    Your school's administrator/principal may apply additional consequences based on individual circumstances.

    Unity in Action

    This policy underscores our commitment to classical, scholarly, and values-oriented education. It creates a daily "digital respite" that encourages emotional well-being, strong relationships, and unity among our students. These elements are essential for a wholesome educational experience that extends beyond the classroom.

    We believe parental support at home will make this policy change more effective as well.

    A Path to Growth

    We acknowledge that introducing this cell phone policy is a significant change for our community. To facilitate this transition, formal appeals will be paused for the first six months after implementation, allowing us to make prudent adjustments and gather feedback. As always, we welcome community concerns or disputes at our Board of Directors meetings during Audience Comment sessions.

    In closing, we extend our gratitude for your ongoing support and partnership. The Classical Academy is dedicated to nurturing a learning environment that uplifts our students, promotes growth, and fosters a genuine love for knowledge. As we embark on this journey together, we remain committed to providing a vibrant, distraction-free space where every student can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.

    Digital Health

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  • The Gift of Time: Understanding the Rationale Behind Age Requirements in Early Education

    Posted by Tisha Harris on 9/15/2023

    When should my child begin kindergarten or first grade? This is a question all parents ask when they start to consider enrolling their children in school. What seems like a simple question can have a somewhat nuanced answer. The Classical Academy has very specific age requirements for kindergarten and first-grade enrollment. These requirements differ a bit from the school district, so sometimes parents ask why. Here is a little about why TCA calls this practice, “the Gift of Time”.

    Age Requirements for Kindergarten and 1st Grade.

    The school district allows students to register for kindergarten if they turn 5 on or before October 1st. However, the Classic Academy has a different requirement that was put into place after thoughtful consideration of academic studies and years of classroom experience.

    To enroll at TCA, students must turn 5 years of age on or before June 1st of the intended enrollment year in order to start kindergarten. This means if a student’s birthday is June 12, that child will start kindergarten in the enrollment year that child turns 6.

    Similarly, a child must be 6 years of age on or before June 1 of the start of the school year to enroll in 1st grade.

    These deadlines and age requirements are applicable to both the Traditional and the Cottage School Programs. TCA does not make exceptions to this requirement.

    Why Give the Gift of Time

    This was not a decision we made lightly. After careful analysis and consideration of past performance, TCA has found that younger kindergarteners, specifically those who start before or barely turning 5, tend to face more challenges throughout their academic journey. So, in order to ensure the best possible educational outcome for all students, we have established the specific age requirements for enrollment in kindergarten and 1st grade.

    The Rationale for the Gift of Time

    Enrollment in Kindergarten is a significant milestone in a young person's life, and it is essential to consider each child's individual readiness for this important step. Research shows that children, especially boys, are often not developmentally prepared for the academic and social demands of a classroom setting until closer to age 6.

    At TCA, our kindergarten program is academically rigorous, encompassing real reading, math activities, history, science, music, art, and the beginning of writing and grammar activities. In fact, our kindergarten curriculum is comparable to what is typically taught in a first-grade classroom in other schools. Providing students with an additional year before starting formal academics facilitates a smoother transition from play to more structured learning.

    The ease of transition is beneficial. Students are more confident and develop a better sense of security. This benefits them as they are introduced into the classroom community.

    Moreover, studies from Stanford University have highlighted the benefits of delaying kindergarten for a year. Children who wait show lower levels of inattention and hyperactivity, leading to improved mental health that persists into later childhood, even up to age 11.

    It is also worth noting that being younger than their peers can have an impact on how students are perceived as they progress through school. Physically, socially, and academically, they may continue to lag behind their classmates.

    It is Important

    TCA firmly believes that these age requirements will contribute to something we all want for your student: a positive and successful educational journey. By ensuring that students are developmentally ready for the challenges ahead, we can foster a supportive environment that promotes growth and achievement.

    If you would like more information about our academic programs, please visit our website. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the age requirements or our school programs, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to support you and your child every step of the way.

    .Early Education

     

     

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