Listado de la etiqueta: waldorf curriculum

Reading Recommendations

This is a great list of stories to tell your children! 

You may think that some stories in this list can be scary for your children, but remember, as Miss Marcie says in her article about the importance of storytelling, «What is important to know is that a child will only imagine a picture in his mind that’s as scary as he can handle. For example: if we tell the story of The Three Billy Goats Gruff a three-year-old might imagine a troll that’s not much more than a blob, whereas a six-year-old might imagine a hairy, ugly troll with big teeth and ears. A Waldorf teacher will tell a fairy tale to young children with a gentle, pleasant voice, without over-dramatization. Again this leaves the child’s imagination free to picture the story to be as scary or as benign as he can handle.»

The following list has been compiled by Megan Young from Carnegie Rudolf Steiner Pre-School Centre Inc. and they appear in You Are Your Child`s First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin. Her section on Fairy tales and the Young Child is well worth reading (pp. 172-181) Most of the stories are from the Grimm Brothers.

Fairy Tales 

Key to age suitability

  • Kinder (4 to 7 years old)
  • Class (7-8 years old)

Simple or sequential stories

Kinder

  • Sweet Porridge  (Grimm)
  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • Little Tuppen.
  • Little Louse and Little Flee
  • The Turnip 
  • The Mitten
  • Little Madam
  • Gingerbread Man
  • The Jonny Cake
  • The Hungry Cat

Slightly more complex stories

Kinder

  • Billy Goats Gruff
  • Three Little Pigs
  • The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids (Grimm)
  • Masenka and the Bear
  • The Shoemaker and the Elves (Grimm)

More Challenge and More Detail

Kinder

  • Star Money (Grimm)
  • The Frog Prince (Grimm)
  • Mother Holle (Grimm)
  • Little Red Cap (Grimm)
  • The Bremen Town Musicians (Grimm)
  • Little- Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty) (Grimm)
  • The Donkey (Grimm)
  • The Queen Bee (Grimm)
  • The Snow Maiden 
  • The Seven Ravens (Grimm)
  • Rumpelstiltskin (Grimm)
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Grimm)

Class 1

  • The Golden Goose (Grimm)
  • Spindle, Shuttle, and Needle (Grimm)
  • The Hut in the Forest (Grimm)
  • Snow White and Rose Red (Grimm)

Classes 1 and 2 

  • Hansel and Gretel (Grimm)

Tales that have a personal experience of suffering or sorrow

Six years old in Kindergarten or Class 1- to match their sense of departure from the heart of early childhood

Kinder and Class 1

Rapunzel

Class 1

  • Jordina and Joringa (Grimm)    
  • Brother and Sister (Grimm)   

Class 1 and 2

  • Cinderella

Waldorf School Project in Year Four

By Miss Charity Muli

One unique rite of passage in a student’s experience is working on a project at the end of at least one block. This usually starts in grade 4 depending on the culture of the school. The students can work on this kind of assignment during any of the breaks, especially during the summer or spring break. Independent projects are very special, in that each student has the chance to study more or deepen their knowledge on any topic. They have a chance to experience something of his/her own choosing. This stretches the students to plan ahead, follow individual due dates, and sharpen their executive functioning—all skills that are only just beginning to bloom in the middle grades. In fact, many aspects of the project are challenging and call upon the students’ developing faculties. The result of this work is growth and achievement in many areas.

Throughout the project, the requirement provides a beautiful opportunity for students to begin reaching out to other adults in the world. This could be other students or family members or even other special people such as artists. One of my students approached his extra curriculum Teacher to help out in painting a red panda which was his choice of animal in zoology studies.

While much of the research work takes place during school hours and during school breaks, the culmination of the student’s accomplishments are shared with the wider community during a celebratory event, at which each student displays his or her work and does a short formal presentation for a large audience. Therefore, students learn about presentation skills and how to create a display to showcase the highlights of their project experience. Students are asked to present the project as a learning experience for the audience.

While these projects are sometimes challenging to most students in many ways, the experience allows students to draw upon and further develop many skills and talents, such as aesthetic sense, creativity, organizational skills, interpersonal skills, and public speaking, to name only a few. They are proud of their accomplishments, as are we—the adults and members of the school community surrounding them. These projects are proof of the creativity, skills, enthusiasm, and care that our students bring to their work. Through the process of completing their tasks, the students learned much about themselves, gained confidence, and are now ready to move on to new challenges that await them in the next grade.

¿Cómo funciona una escuela Waldorf de Primaria?

Muchas personas, por lo general padres de familia que conocen la pedagogía Waldorf y tienen a sus hijos en un colegio inspirado en esta pedagogía, como el nuestro, se preguntan sobre el paso que dan los niños cuando llegan a la primaria. ¿Los niños siguen teniendo juego libre tanto como en preescolar? ¿Cómo aprenderán a leer y escribir? ¿Cómo es el currículo cuando los alumnos pasan a Grado Uno?

Nos hemos basado en un artículo de aguamarina, psicóloga y terapeuta del habla, ya que lo expresa de una forma idónea y bastante acertiva.

El currículum en las escuelas Waldorf

Si la pedagogía Waldorf parte de la premisa que la forma de entender, sentir y vivir el mundo de las personas va evolucionando a lo largo de la vida, y muy especialmente durante la infancia, el currículum de las escuelas Waldorf trata entonces de dar respuesta a las necesidades que presentan los niños en todos los niveles (su cuerpo físico, sus facultades psíquicas, su individualidad).

Para los maestros/as Waldorf lo más importante no es lo que se enseña, sino cómo se enseña. Por tanto el programa educativo Waldorf se basa en el niño, en ejercitar las capacidades del ser humano: pensar, sentir y actuar. Así el maestro a través de la observación de las necesidades de los niños les va introduciendo en los contenidos, pero en el momento oportuno y de la forma adecuada a su etapa evolutiva.

Por eso se dice que el método Waldorf es un método integral, porque implica el conocimiento de la naturaleza individual de cada niño, y utiliza una metodología y contenidos adecuados a cada momento, logrando de esa manera un equilibrio de las aptitudes intelectuales, artísticas y manuales. Se trata de seguir un proceso, un camino de experiencia que llene de sentido todo lo que encontrará el niño una vez que sea adulto.

Esto implica que después de haber experimentado con el movimiento y el juego libre en la época de infantil, en el primer curso de primaria conozcan las letras y las palabras, los números y las operaciones básicas, así como los dibujos de formas, que permiten estructurar el dominio del tiempo y del espacio de una manera progresiva y asequible para los pequeños, teniendo como hilo conductor las narraciones de los cuentos de hadas. (Lee más información sobre los cuentos de hadas aquí).

El paso de Infantil a Primaria

El hecho de poder iniciar una nueva etapa vital es tan importante como cerrar bien la anterior.

Es por eso que el primer día de escuela para los niños de primero de primaria se realiza una celebración en la cual, simbólicamente, dejan atrás el mundo de los pequeños para entrar en otro mundo de niños más mayores, mostrando que ya están preparados para realizar otro tipo de actividades en la escuela. Cada niño pasa por un bonito arco hecho de flores, entregando al maestro que le llama una flor que confeccionará el ramo de la nueva clase.

Tras este primer día, el niño entra en un ritmo de actividad que le permite desarrollar una respiración entre concentración y relajación, trabajo mental y práctico, movimiento y reposo, escucha y participación, observar y hacer.

La clase principal y los periodos

Durante las dos primeras horas del día aparece muy claramente esta respiración en la clase. Se desarrolla una parte rítmica, con una serie de actividades en las que aparece el movimiento ordenado, el arte de la palabra y la poesía, la música, el juego…muchas veces combinados. Este espacio permite sincronizar los ritmos individuales en uno colectivo, haciendo que niños y niñas estén dispuestos a un trabajo más vinculado a la concentración.

Después de este momento, hay un tiempo para los aprendizajes más académicos, siempre presentados de una manera asequible para los niños, es lo que se denomina la clase principal. Estos aprendizajes también están asociados a un ritmo, así, durante un tiempo de unas cuatro semanas, se desarrolla una misma área, es lo que se conoce como un período.

Al  final de la clase principal se destina a escuchar la narración, un momento en el que aparece un gesto de relajación, pero al mismo tiempo de una cierta concentración al seguir el hilo de la historia.

Los periodos en la clase de primero

Durante los tres trimestres del primer curso se mantiene una estructura similar, en la cual se empieza con un periodo (unas cuatro semanas) de dibujo de formas, después uno de letras, y se acaba con el de números.

EL DIBUJO DE FORMAS

El dibujo de formas trabaja con el movimiento del cuerpo, organizando el espacio en líneas rectas y curvas.

Poco a poco los niños van llevando este movimiento desde el cuerpo a las manos, llegando a convertir un dibujo sobre el cual se ha caminado en el suelo en una línea sobre el papel. De esta manera se hace que la experiencia del dibujo sea no sólo mental sino también vivida en el hacer con el cuerpo. Es gracias al dibujo de formas que los niños y niñas se preparan para el trazado de letras y números.

LAS LETRAS

El periodo llamado de las “letras” acerca a los niños al proceso de lectoescritura realizando un recorrido por todo el alfabeto mediante una historia narrada por el maestro/a. Así, cada letra tiene un sentido de ser en la palabra, y la palabra se torna viva en la conciencia del niño.

Las letras y las palabras se escuchan, se dibujan y se escriben y finalmente, se leen.

LOS NÚMEROS

Las matemáticas tienen, en la pedagogía Waldorf, un tratamiento muy especial. Los primeros aprendizajes, los números, son mostrados como elementos no sólo cuantitativos sino también cualitativos. Cada número representa una cualidad: el uno representa la unidad, lo que forma un todo; el dos, la dualidad, los opuestos; el tres, la trinidad, el elemento neutralizante, etc. siempre mostrando estos conceptos en forma de imagen, en un lenguaje poético.

El movimiento en el espacio es indispensable para desarrollar un buen pensamiento matemático, de esta manera se realizan una gran cantidad de ejercicios que impliquen el movimiento de todo el cuerpo. Las matemáticas dejan de ser de dominio exclusivo de la cabeza, llegando a formar parte de todo el cuerpo, hasta la punta de los dedos de los pies.

El resto de materias: las especialidades

Las actividades artísticas así como la lengua extranjera o los trabajos manuales son los otros elementos que completan el día a día en la primera clase.

La música facilita al niño el ordenar su mundo interior. En primero todavía se usan melodías pentatónicas que ayudan al niño a mantener un estado de calma y armonía. Los instrumentos utilizados en este curso son la lira pentatónica y, desde el segundo trimestre, la flauta pentatónica. (Si te interesa saber más sobre la música pentatónica lee este artículo de Tamara Chubarovsky: Música que calma a los niños, música pentatónica).

La pintura con acuarela aporta unos elementos que favorecen la salud anímica de los niños. El trabajo con el color, usando el papel mojado, sigue un largo camino durante toda la primaria.  (Puedes descubrir un cuento vivenciado para utilizar las acuarelas con niños aquí)

Al principio se trata más de jugar con las cualidades del color que buscar hacer representaciones pictóricas y, poco a poco, este jugar se convierte en un dominio del agua y la pintura en las clases superiores.

La Euritmia es otra de las artes trabajadas en la escuela Waldorf. A través del movimiento, se despierta y se fortalece la capacidad expresiva de los niños, y no solamente en el aspecto puramente físico.

Mediante los sonidos de las palabras y la música se busca agilidad, movilidad, plasticidad y actividad en su mundo interior.

Las lenguas extranjeras empiezan a formar parte de la vida de los niños mediante juegos, canciones y poesías.

Se busca acercar al niño a la musicalidad del lenguaje, a adentrarse de forma natural en ella, de la misma manera que se hace con la lengua materna.

Los trabajos manuales son muy importantes para el desarrollo intelectual del niño. Una cita de Rudolf Steiner dice “Dedos ágiles nos llevarán más adelante a un pensamiento ágil”. Y cada vez más neurólogos están descubriendo y mostrando de qué manera el movimiento físico se convierte en un desarrollo de las conexiones neuronales.

Así, se realizan actividades como seguir todo el proceso de la lana: desde que está sucia, recién esquilada, hasta poder tejer con ella, pasando por el lavado, cardado, hilado y ovillado, lo que acerca al niño a una manera viva de entender el mundo.

Creo que con todo esto has podido hacerte una idea de cómo funciona una escuela Waldorf de primaria, faltaría añadir que no hay exámenes, ni tampoco libros de texto convencionales, sino que cada alumno va trabajando y elaborando sus propios cuadernos.

Preparing for Life

The New York Times sparked national media coverage with its front page story on why Silicon Valley parents are turning to Waldorf education. This film, created by the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, picks up where that story left off. «Preparing for Life» takes viewers inside the School where the focus is on developing the capacities for creativity, resilience, innovative thinking, and social and emotional intelligence over rote learning. Entrepreneurs, Stanford researchers, investment bankers, and parents who run some of the largest hi-tech companies in the world, weigh-in on what children need to navigate the challenges of the 21st Century in order to find success, purpose, and joy in their lives.

This film provides an overview of the focus of Waldorf education in the different stages from preschool to high school and the abilities the children develop in each stage.

Tips para fortalecer la inteligencia emocional en los niños

Escrito por Gabriela de Erichsen

El pasado jueves tuvimos nuestro segundo “Growing Up Together” del año. Este programa está diseñado para nuestros papás Trinus y su objetivo principal es proveer herramientas y conocimiento que apoyen el crecimiento y formación en la tarea de primeros educadores. Para contribuir al desarrollo de personas creativas y libres que actúen con integridad y por consiguiente continuar transformando “pequeños en gigantes.” 

El tema para este mes fue impartido por nuestra psicopedagoga Lic. Sharlyn Dieguez.

A continuación puedes ver la plática completa y un resumen del tema impartido.

El tema de inteligencia emocional se ha convertido en una necesidad para todo ser humano, especialmente para los niños. Estamos acostumbrados a enfocar nuestra energía y recursos en desarrollar la parte intelectual de nuestros hijos, dejando en segundo plano incluso a un lado la parte emocional. Daniel Goleman, dice que al menos 80% del éxito en la edad adulta proviene de la inteligencia emocional. En Trinus le damos importancia al desarrollo integral de nuestros alumnos y nuestro enfoque es que todas las áreas del alumno sean nutridas y fortalecidas. Esto abarca la parte intelectual, la emocional y la educación de la voluntad. Encontrar el equilibrio en estas tres áreas es lo que nuestros educadores trabajan a lo largo del año. 

Empecemos por definir ¿qué es inteligencia emocional?, se define como la habilidad para gestionar bien las emociones, ya sean las nuestras como las de los demás. 

Como cualquier otra habilidad, la inteligencia emocional se puede enseñar o potenciar. Y esto nos debe motivar como padres y educadores a apoyar a los más pequeños a fortalecer esta área en sus vidas. 

¿Cómo podemos fortalecerla? 

Sharlyn nos compartió 10 tips prácticos que podemos implementar: 

  1. Reconocer mis emociones – ¿Qué estoy sintiendo? 
  2. Nombrar las emociones – al identificar por nombre la emociones podemos trabajarlas y regularlas.
  3. Dar el ejemplo – los niños aprenden por imitación, por lo tanto reaccionarán, hablarán de la misma manera que nosotros los adultos lo hacemos.
  4. Mantener la calma, recordar quién es el adulto de la situación.
  5. Desarrollar empatía – “Entiendo que cuando pasa esto… te molestas mucho, yo también me enojaría…” 
  6. Brindar opciones de cómo reaccionar – “Entiendo que estabas muy molesto, la próxima vez podríamos respirar y esperar 10 minutos antes de actuar”. 
  7. Fomentar el diálogo democrático – aprender a escuchar y que ellos nos escuchen, así como tener esos espacios donde podemos expresar lo que sentimos y dejarlos expresarse también. 
  8. Establecer límites claros – Los niños necesitan saber qué es lo que esperamos de ellos, no podemos asumir que ellos saben sin haberles modelado las reglas y normas. 
  9. Aceptar cuando hemos cometido un error 
  10. No forzar las disculpas 

“El cerebro emocional responde a un evento más rápidamente que el cerebro pensante.” Dr. Goleman 

Un aspecto importante es que la comunicación efectiva, mantiene la puerta de la comunicación abierta para que los chicos no sientan miedo de expresarse. 

Como padres y educadores tenemos esa labor hermosa de formar y brindar las herramientas a nuestros niños para que puedan desarrollarse de la mejor forma posible. Esta labor requiere de constancia, paciencia y mucho amor. 

Los resultados tal vez no los veremos tan rápido como quisiéramos, pero como un día me dijo mi hermano mayor: “algún día verás el resultado de todo esfuerzo y constancia en educar un buen hábito ó corregir determinada actitud, y dirás valió la pena”. 

No te des por vencido, sigue intentando y repitiendo cuantas veces sea necesario lo que quieres formar y educar en tus hijos o alumnos. ¡Te aseguro que verás los resultados! 

Por lo que nosotros como adultos somos los primeros que debemos fortalecer nuestra inteligencia emocional porque al final del día nuestros hijos son nuestro espejo. 

“Los niños emocionalmente inteligentes, son adultos exitosos”.

Transitioning to the Waldorf System

Written by Miss Petersen

A question we get asked a lot at Trinus is: “How will my child cope with the move from a traditional system to Trinus?”

In answer to this question, I would like to share:

  1. A picture of what your child will be transitioning to
  2. Some of my experiences with my class who all came to Trinus from other traditional systems
  3. Some thoughts around ‘transition’

1. A picture of what your child will be transitioning to

The Waldorf environment is a warm, welcoming, and safe space where children are taught using a responsive curriculum that is based on child development. This means that children are taught content that is age-appropriate and brought forth in a way that is healthy and stimulating for the child. We believe that children must be taught in a way that touches the head, heart, and hand. In this way we help children unfold more than only academically; we educate them to help them reveal and unfold their potential and be healthy human beings. Our kindergarten classes are bursting with children busy at play whilst being guided by someone who knows that play is where they learn and grow! Without the confines of desks, chairs, and formal learning children are free to also strengthen and develop their physical bodies. A strong body is needed when they move on to the grades to be able to sit up straight and listen to the educator and work for a full day without getting tired as well as for writing. Language is acquired through songs, stories, puppet shows, and rhymes which stimulate rather than tire children. Our Grades classrooms are full of smiling, happy children who love being at Trinus! Children who are curious to learn and feel free to ask questions. Where children are taught math through movement and learn history through stories, making paintings, acting out a story, and even reading fiction! It is a space where each child is accepted for who they are and respected at whichever level they are. We also understand that overloading a child with homework is unhealthy and places extra stress not only on the child but on the family too. Formal homework is only introduced in the upper grades once children are ready for greater responsibility. It is also a space where educators, administrators, and parents seek to grow healthy relationships through open communication, respect, trust, and professionalism. 

Math Waldorf

2. Experiences with my class

My class and I started together when Trinus opened its doors in August 2017. They were aged between 7-8 years old and had all come from other traditional systems around Guatemala. In the beginning, they found it strange that their day now included singing sitting, and listening to stories. I asked them questions and wanted to hear their opinions. That all of a sudden games and drama classes became part of the day. And once they started to relax into our rhythms magic happened in the classroom. They began to smile more and grow more confident. They began to ask questions and feel less embarrassed when they made a mistake. They started singing louder and begging to be given parts in whatever drama we did. I think they started to see that class can be fun and that learning is a joy. Of course, I have very different children so some took longer than others, some needed time to adapt but each definitely started claiming their space! Academically there were children at various levels with multiple learning styles and the Waldorf curriculum finds ways to reach and appeal to all of them. From week 2 I had parents sharing changes they had already seen in their children. And some were big changes. And they all told me they were so relieved to have found Trinus. I would like to share some testimonials: 

«We have seen a radical change in our daughters. Not just emotionally, but also academically. In addition, they now handle English perfectly, which was previously an obstacle. It is impressive how they have grown in their security. They have managed to face their obstacles, and they achieve their goals. We are happy because Trinus really feels like family. We are confident that we have made the best decision in the education of our daughters.»

– Familia Sagastume Morataya

«I am happy that we had the courage to be part of this new family. 😉 Many believe that, in non-traditional methods, such as Waldorf, children do not learn as much or are not well prepared for University, life, etc. but the more I learn about this method, the more I understand its structure and its solid foundations. Trinus educators are the most passionate and connected I have ever met. They really believe in what they do and they do it with passion, with love, and with a lot of preparation.»

– Carla Egurrola

3. Some thoughts around ‘transition’

Transition means change. And for us humans change is always scary- especially as we get older. We must remember that children are way more resilient than us adults. They are more flexible, they adapt quicker, and they accept things without question. So instead of asking the question: “How will my child cope?” rather ask: “How will I cope?” Trinus classrooms look totally different from the traditional structures we know and were educated in. And it can be difficult to let go of those rigid structures in our minds. At Trinus we welcome the child in reverence, get to know that child, and then work to help the child grow and unfold in a healthy, safe, and loving space. With transition, there is always an adjustment phase and that’s when we hold the child most to help and guide them through.

Come and experience for yourself what could be possible for your child. We can share more of our stories with you.

Inclusion in Education in Guatemala, is it Lacking?

Written by Rocío Colina, President of 502 Down Syndrome

In Guatemala, we lack of options for schools with inclusive education. There are only a few schools that are open to inclusion, even though education is a human right of every child, regardless of his or her capacities.

In some cases, schools are willing to open to inappropriate inclusion, such as “accepting” children but in a “special needs class”. A true inclusive learning environment is not a place where students with a disability learn in isolation from their peers. In other cases, they accept children and have them form part of the same class as other students, but only with a shadow teacher or by attending the class simply as listeners, only occupying a space, but without learning or without a code from the Ministry of Education, which means that the institution does not have an educational commitment towards the student. In other words, it doesn’t matter to the institution if the student with a disability learns or not, because there isn’t a commitment.

Real inclusion means regular schools welcome the child, permitting him or her to form part of the same class as regular children, with pairs of the same age, learning the same contents with pedagogical adjustments, based on an educational commitment. Inclusive education is about how we develop and design our schools, classrooms, programs, and activities so that all students learn and participate together, in which the student has an educational curriculum that is adapted based on his or her needs.

For children with Down syndrome, it is especially important for them not to have a shadow teacher because the purpose is to make them independent for adequate development. In some extremely rare cases, they might need a shadow teacher only if a multidisciplinary team determines it would be better for the student.

In Guatemala, the Ministry of Education has already a special education department, enabling all students to attend regular schools with pedagogical adjustments. The majority of educational institutions in Guatemala ignore the fact that they can count on this department.

A lot of times, because of the lack of information, they perceive it as something complicated to implement, or they might think that it can get difficult to deal with the Ministry of Education, which might lead to cause fear to be opening up for inclusion. Other times this openness is denied due to the absence of attitude, information, or will.

It is significant for schools to inform themselves and prepare their teachers to initiate a real inclusion in order to have a successful inclusion. An excellent teacher who is skilled in inclusion becomes an extraordinary teacher.

Parents need to also be informed, learn, and empower themselves to help their children on this path, inclusion requires teamwork, and the most valuable members are the parents. Parents need to focus on learning to help their children, and that means also recognizing things that need to be worked on and being persistent on these things without guilt.

It is also important to recognize that inclusion is a human right, not charity. A lot of associations are working towards inclusion, respect, and equal opportunities. There are a lot of myths, preconceptions, or lack of information that make this task harder. These associations work to create awareness and educate about equality, including avoiding name-calling and labeling people with Down Syndrome or disabilities. When we use names to describe a person with Down syndrome or a disability, we are making them different and not part of it, which makes inclusion more difficult.

Inclusion has to be a commitment between the parents, the teacher, and the educational institution, that needs to put in the same effort to every student that becomes part of their school. In spite of that, the Ministry of Education of Guatemala already has a department that can help schools with inclusion.

Another problem in Guatemala is that there isn´t any educational degree for special education, or some other therapeutic degree, leading to the lack of professionals that may manage or follow up on the work of inclusion. We need to have these university degrees and start to, not only have inclusion, but a social culture of inclusion.

Inclusion does not only benefit students with disabilities but also regular students, because they develop into more humane individuals, with a higher degree of tolerance, solidarity, and respect for others.  With the rejection of children with disabilities in regular schools we are teaching our future generations to refuse to include people who make an effort to succeed and who want to learn to form part of a society and be productive; we teach them instead to be competitive rather than humanistic.

Benefits For Kids Learning A Second Language

Author Bio: Cristin Howard runs Smart Parent Advice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. Cristin writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase.

It can be challenging to help your child learn a second language. So here’s a list of great reasons why it’s worthwhile. If you find your enthusiasm for language learning flagging, you can review this list to recover your motivation. We’ve identified the benefits your child will experience, right now, as well as in the future.

Immediate Benefits

Improved Ability to Focus

A study done at the Cornell Language Acquisition Lab showed that children who learn a second language are better able to focus. Even in the face of distractions, children who have a second language can block them out and keep their attention on a single thing. 

This ability to focus is believed to be because learning a second language exercises the part of the brain responsible for selective cognitive processes. In other words, because they have learned to choose a language selectively, then can apply this selectivity to other aspects of their lives.

Faster Learning With More Fluency

While children are young, their brains are hardwired for language learning. The older they get, the harder it is to pick up new languages. So the earlier you start them learning a second language, the more quickly they will pick it up. This is in part because they have less to learn while they’re young. They can focus on the vocabulary that they need. The older they get, the more they have to learn to get started.

Ultimately they are likely to reach a higher level of fluency than if they started to learn that language later. Starting with a small vocabulary makes it easier to get comfortable with the building blocks of a language.

Better Problem-Solving Skills

Children who hear and speak two languages are getting much more cognitive exercise. There is much more processing going on inside their head. This extra work has benefits beyond the ability to speak a second language.

A study looking at preschoolers showed that even at that young age, they were experiencing benefits. The bilingual children were able to sort objects into groups based on shape more accurately. They could do this even when it meant matching against color: Eg, a round green shape into a blue bin. 

Future Benefits

Wider Vocabulary

Kids who speak a second language end up having a broader vocabulary in their first language. They discover that there are lots more words to know, and some begin to ‘collect’ them. Having a wide vocabulary in any language is an early indicator of academic success.

Higher Academic Performance

As we’ve noted, children who speak two or more languages have advantages in processing information. This is what lets them focus on one thing while ignoring distractions. Studies have shown that this applies to spoken language as well. So bilingual children can focus on verbal information, even when there is background noise.

It’s thought that this is responsible for an improvement in their academic performance. After all, it’s a lot easier to learn in class if you can tune out other kids chatting so you can listen to the teacher.

Encourages Creativity

The language that we speak can shape the way that we think about the world. Language is a tool that we use to describe everything around us. Each language does this in a slightly different way. So the more languages your child speaks, the more views they have on the world.

When a child is used to looking at the same things from slightly different viewpoints in their day-to-day life, it fosters creativity. They automatically look for more than one solution, more than one answer. This creativity can have all sorts of benefits as they grow older, especially when it comes time to find a job and perform in the world of work.

Can Protect Against Dementia

This one is a benefit that you’re probably not going to be around to witness. But, bilingual people have significantly lower rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s. The act of speaking more than one language is a great mental exercise. So you’re giving your child tools for success and health at all stages of their life by helping them to learn a second language while they’re still young.

There are plenty of reasons to persist and help your child pick up a second language while their brain is programmed to do so.

Does Music Make You Smarter?

By Amanda Jones, Trinus Educator

The long-contended phrase goes “Music makes you smarter.” Is this true to some degree? Is it true at all? It’s more easy to believe this about some types of music more than other types of music.  This is evidenced by the popularity of playing certain classical music for children before they are even born.  The image of headphones on a pregnant mother’s stomach comes to mind.  Does music really make you smarter?  What does research say? 

In a live Facebook event, we went deeper into these questions. You can watch the 30-minute talk below or read about the topic.

So, does music make you smarter? What do we mean by that? While some studies have reported that you can achieve a higher test score while listening to Mozart, more current research says that “believing listening to music raises test scores and IQ is an oversimplification of what music does for your brain” (Musacchia & Khalil, 2020).  

Music has been shown to do several things for your brain.  Music, especially actively participating in and making music:

  1. Increases your neuroplasticity, 
  2. Creates more active neurological pathways,
  3. Interweaves sensory input,  
  4. Makes a stronger bridge between the right and left hemispheres of your brain (Musacchia & Khalil, 2020).  

Let’s break each of those things down a little with examples.  

Neuroplasticity is your brain’s ability to change, adapt, learn, and grow. The more neuroplasticity your brain has, that’s like saying the better it is at “going with the flow”.  Your brain has more resources and tools to use for the things you experience, both in everyday events and traumatic events.  Benefits of neuroplasticity include, “enhanced memory abilities, a wide range of enhanced cognitive abilities, and more effective learning (Ackerman, 2020).”  For those who experience a stroke or other traumatic brain injury, having greater neuroplasticity means your brain is able to compensate and reroute functions away from the damaged part of the brain.  You’re able to relearn abilities lost in the damaged part of the brain. According to Harvard Medical School, patients with speech problems are “capable of singing words that they cannot speak (Harvard Health Letter, 2007).” I’d say that’s pretty amazing!

Because music uses so many parts of your brain simultaneously, you’re training multiple parts of your brain to work together in an organized and sensible way.  It’s like doing a full-body workout versus focusing on one part of your body.  If I’m someone who is a couch potato, certainly doing some hammer curls and push-ups every day will help. But, it’s like all the cardio exercise videos that are really serious; not only do they have you lifting weights with your arms, but you’re also in a plank position or balancing on one foot, or moving your legs at the same time.  Sometimes you wonder if the video is really trying to help you or give you a heart attack with how hard you’re working.  With music, you’re hearing things, having to pay attention to timing, and rhythm, creating the right words and pitch, and also using your sense of touch and sense of where you exist in the world all at the same time.  It’s a major brain workout, making all the parts of your brain work together for multi-faceted sensory input with more neurons firing simultaneously. Music is never a passive activity.  

In a very real and literal sense, it has been found that every part of the brain is bigger and more developed in those who participate in creating music (Musacchia & Khalil, 2020). Studies done on children who actively participate in music have found that even by the age of 7 the corpus callosum, also known as the “information superhighway” connecting the right and left side of the brain was 25% larger than the average child who did not participate in music (Miller, 2008). 

What are the benefits of a larger corpus callosum?  In certain instances, we like thinking of ourselves as either right-brained or left-brained.  That if we’re artistic and completely disorganized and terrible at spelling and math, well, “we’re just right-brained.”  It’s a nice spin on it. “That’s just the way I’m wired.” Right?  If we’re always correcting others’ grammar, a bookworm, and have trouble drawing stick figures well, “I’m just left-brained. I just am not artsy.”  Really, because music connects the right and left hemispheres of the brain, it means we can use both sides of our brain equally well.  

A personal experience from my life: In about 6th grade every student at our school was given an aptitude test.  This was supposed to help us plan which elective courses we could take in high school before we graduated.  I had chosen band as my first elective in 6th grade and was greatly enjoying it and made many friends in the band.  We all were eager to take our test and get some guidance because there seemed to be a lot of choices for which classes to take. Did I want to take more physical education classes, and some computer technology classes with programming? Maybe some hands-on classes with wood or metalworking? Should I focus on reading more, more art classes, animal or plant sciences, and languages?  The aptitude tests were supposed to measure what you’d be most successful at, and along those lines, they gave you a printout with a little graphic, showing you if you were more right-brained than left-brained, and by how much.  

If you received your aptitude test and it said you were very dominantly right-brained they might not have suggested you do some of the elective courses to learn what accountants do, for instance.  That doesn’t mean you couldn’t do that, but it’d probably be much harder for you.  Well, so we all took the test, and in a few weeks got our print-outs back that would tell us which side of our brains were used more and it also was supposed to suggest three classes we’d be good at, with a sentence or two about why.  Of course, we’re teenagers, so the first thing we all want to do is compare ourselves to everyone else and then probably just take whatever classes it said our friends were good at because we just wanted to be with our friends anyway.   

Well, we all brought our tests out at the end of band class, and we were all so terribly disappointed.  All of us looked at the image of the brain, with the line going down the middle, and for all of us, the “dot” that marked which part of our brains we used most, fell exactly on the middle line of our brain.  For suggested classes, all of our tests simply said something like, “No clear aptitudes emerged from this test.  You should choose classes from your own interests.  You have no clear strengths or weaknesses.”  What a downer of a test.  We all felt like it was saying, “You’re boring and completely normal and there’s nothing special about you.”  But really, when you look at that, that we all had the ability to use both sides of our brain equally, it was a bit like a golden ticket.  It was essentially saying, you’re going to be pretty successful at anything you try.  You don’t have anything holding you back that’s going to make anything inherently difficult for you.  

So, how can we have music work for us in education, outside of band and orchestra classes?  At Trinus educators establish structured learning spaces and routines that become safe environments for students to learn and grow. These routines include music in several ways. Students are immersed in a language-rich English setting full of stories, and narratives offering a more advanced approach to language acquisition and ownership.

At Trinus, educators are constantly singing.  Each day begins with a series of songs and movements that are age-appropriate and directly relate to what we’re learning in class.  Music sets the tone of the classroom and creates an inviting atmosphere.  Singing helps children really arrive and creates that sense of a safe environment.  This looks different depending on the age of the child, but singing very effectively and immediately creates a feeling of reverence, excitement, awe, quiet, focus, or energy in the classroom. 

Singing music and movement as a class is a regular part of the routine for each class at Trinus.  Singing as a class greatly improves and builds memory.  This is easily evidenced by thinking back on your own schooling and things you know because of songs.  I can still repeat mathematical equations in songs from 8th grade. I don’t even know what the equation is and haven’t used it since 8th grade, but I still know the song.  

Singing and movement as a class also builds social and emotional awareness and expressiveness.  You learn things like blending your voice with others, and being aware of and listening to others while simultaneously speaking yourself.  You have to share space and coordinate the song and movement with those around you.  This is not an easy thing to do, even for professional musicians.  

When you sing and move together in the classroom you are also working on impulse control, or the ability to stop and start together, on a cue.  This is very important to develop, especially in young children, and a very good way to do it that is less abrasive than telling the toddler, “It’s time to pick up your toys now.”  But, you’re working the same skills and the same parts of the brain when a child stops singing with their class as when you tell them it’s time to pick up your toys, and they listen and do so. Studies have also shown that students who play music together are more likely to interact positively with those they play music with (Musacchia & Khalil, 2020). The class that plays music together stays together!

Singing has also been shown to improve our ability to hear (Musacchia & Khalil, 2020). The more finely tuned ears are then better able to pick up the nuances of speech better.  Better hearing leads not only to better speech but also better reading.  Students who engage in music have been shown to be better, more advanced readers and have better reading comprehension (Musacchia & Khalil, 2020).  The benefits to reading and speech with musical participation have been shown to be true both in a person’s native language, as well as a foreign language.  When you participate in music activities you don’t just get better at reading or speaking one language, you get better at all languages (Hausen, Torppa, Salmela, Vainio, & Särkämö, 2013). 

By combining singing and movement in the classroom you activate the whole brain and have a whole physical, emotional, social, cognitive, and interactive experience.  At Trinus students connect and live what they learn in order to gain meaning. Experiencing learning through movement and music is a key way to do this.  Music is much more than a way to entertain.  Neuroscience has shown that music activates many parts of the brain simultaneously.  When we engage in music in the classroom we’re helping our brains grow in ways that will benefit us and our students for the rest of their lives. 

References
Ackerman, C. E. (2020, September 01). What is Neuroplasticity? A Psychologist Explains [ 14 Exercises]. Retrieved September 22, 2020, from https://positivepsychology.com/neuroplasticity/#:~:text=7 Benefits Neuroplasticity Has on the Brain,-Building on the&text=Recovery from brain events like,pick up the slack);
Harvard Health Letter. (2007, March). In Brief: Sing along for health. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/In_Brief_Sing_along_for_health
Hausen, M., Torppa, R., Salmela, V. R., Vainio, M., & Särkämö, T. (2013, September 02). Music and speech prosody: A common rhythm. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00566/full

Guatemala me da tanto

Escrito por  Gabriela de Erichsen

Queridos amigos guatemaltecos, 

Septiembre es el mes en que Guatemala se viste de azul y blanco, colores que representan nuestra bandera, la camiseta que nos identifica como chapines, nuestro orgullo. Mes donde recordamos los textiles coloridos que forman parte de nuestra identidad, donde repasamos nuestros únicos y emblemáticos símbolos patrios; sin mencionar el sabor de su comida y sus bellos y coloridos paisajes. Tanto nos da Guatemala que no sabríamos por dónde empezar para devolverle tanto. Por lo que propongo que le devolvamos todo el año felicidad, orgullo, respeto y amor. Septiembre se puede ir, pero el azul y blanco que nos identifica nunca se debe apartar de nuestros corazones.

Este 15 de Septiembre, me encontré con un escrito de una ex compañera de colegio, y me pareció que merecía ser leído por todo guatemalteco que ha recibido tanto de nuestro bello país. Les recomiendo leerlo en familia para que juntos podamos abrir nuestros ojos a todo lo bello que nos rodea. A apreciar y reconocer lo dichosos que somos por vivir en Guatemala. Se los comparto:

Guatemala me da tanto

Guatemala me da tanto, todos los días.

Me da un paisaje de montañas y volcanes siempre verdes, siempre cerca.

Selva enigmática y curiosa, fauna diversa, flora coqueta de la primavera eterna. 

Guatemala me da una bandera azul y blanca ondeando libre, bajo el cielo celeste que se viste de colores en cada atardecer.

Guatemala es color vibrante que vive en las artesanías de hilo y tejido, de cerámica, madera o jade. Es riqueza cultural que a veces parece querer esconderse pero al apreciarla sale imponente con sabiduría milenaria en cada rincón. 

Guatemala me da una oferta incalculable de sabores, desde la tortilla recién salida del comal, hasta platillos de recados elaborados y cocción lenta. Con sus dulces típicos, caldos, verduras coloridas, e infinidad de fruta fresca otorga día con día, un festín al paladar y una sonrisa interna.

Guatemala me da gente bella, chapines trabajadores, sonrientes y amables, valientes, curiosos, solidarios, jocosos y emprendedores. 

Guatemala me da notas de marimba que me hacen viajar en el tiempo, abrazar a mis abuelos y sacar a bailar a mi corazón. Me da escalofríos de orgullo cuando escucho “Luna de Xelajú” en el extranjero o la chirimía en el interior del país.

Guatemala me da pretextos para celebrar, con sus solemnes procesiones en las calles alfombradas con aserrín y flores, con fiambre de mil sabores, nacimientos multicolores y posadas que caminan al ritmo de la tortuga y “El niño del tambor”. Antorchas de independencia, luces pirotécnicas y árboles de Navidad. Ferias patronales, con churros y tamales, chocolate caliente, café y atol.

Guatemala me da tantas razones por las que amo saberme chapina. Pero Guatemala también me da dolor. Dolor al conocer las historias de los migrantes, desolación al ver los rostros del hambre, que la corrupción impide saciar. Guatemala me da contrastes, sus cielos abiertos me inspiran a soñar y a la vez me da pesadillas al vivir en carne propia los látigos de la delincuencia, de tanta agresividad colectiva que provoca muerte y maldad. Y entre su abundancia, Guatemala me muestra pobreza y tanta necesidad. Y el dolor que provoca sentirse impotente hace que muchos cerremos los ojos tratando de ignorar la realidad.

Guatemala me da tanto… porque más que sólo ser una extensión territorial, Guatemala es todo lo que vive y ha vivido, somos tú y yo junto a la historia de ayer y hoy.  Y si Guatemala es un intercambio y ella me da tanto, vale la pena preguntarse ¿qué le doy yo? 

A Guatemala yo le doy mi trabajo diario, le ofrezco mi cambio de mentalidad egoísta por uno que incluya el bien común. Le doy mis rezos, buenas palabras y energía positiva. Hoy a Guatemala le doy un abrazo de cumpleaños, honro lo que ha vivido, agradezco lo que a diario me da, lamento, pido perdón y perdono tanto dolor y me dispongo a aceptar y amar su realidad, con el objetivo de transformarla para que sea mejor. 

Guatemala reparte a diario innumerables bendiciones, muchas que quizás no sabemos del todo agradecer. Hoy es su cumpleaños… si escucháramos lo que dice al hablarnos… ¿qué crees que nos pediría de regalo?

Y a tí, ¿qué te pide Guatemala?
Por Anna Evelyn Valdez Meléndez 

Que nuestro mes patrio sea todos los meses, que nuestro orgullo por Guatemala sea todos los días. Que podamos esparcir por donde vayamos los colores de nuestros textiles que irradian alegría y vida por doquier. ¡Guatemala tu nombre inmortal!

Feliz cumpleaños a nuestra querida Guatemala.

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