How Can Families Help Meet Children’s Special Needs? (page 2)
More families are realizing the importance of science, and involving parents and caregivers helps to increase children’s success by:
- encouraging greater achievement in school;
- increasing family participation in school activities;
- supporting positive changes in school climate;
- improving student attendance;
- decreasing the school dropout rates;
- decreasing substance abuse, violence, and antisocial behavior; and
- increasing the collective efforts among school personnel, parents, and families toward greater productive partnerships. (Krueger & Sutton, 2001, p. 92)
Science skills develop over time, and development builds on older skills. “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it” applies here. The science foundation that is laid during childhood will increase each individual’s potential for later success. Also, science depends on mathematics. Students should be encouraged to study mathematics every school year.
All students learn science through hands-on, minds-on experiences. Children should be encouraged to handle physical objects, make measurements and direct comparisons, and ask frequent questions about what they observe and experience.
How Can Families Help Their Children Study and Prepare for Science?
Parents, caregivers, and other family members are invaluable when it comes to educating children. They are closest to the special needs their children may have. Families can help their children to succeed in science by following these suggestions:
- Stimulate interest in and foster feelings for science. Families can help their children to realize that science can be fun and help them to experience success, with its feelings of excitement, discovery, and mastery.
- Include science in the child’s everyday experiences. Children can be asked to count and form sets of utensils at dinnertime and can help to measure ingredients. Include children also in repairing broken appliances or building a model airplane.
- Establish a regular study time and provide a designated space for study away from distractions. Work with the teachers to develop effective ways to communicate with children who have vision and hearing disabilities. Equipment modifications can be developed for children who have physical disabilities, and these can be shared with the school.
- Check with children every day to make sure homework and special projects are completed. Families should ask to see completed homework and any tests or projects that have been graded or returned.
- Offer to read assignment questions. Even if a family member does not know the answers, the result will be a stronger bond. The child will benefit from an interested adult role model, forming the impression that school, homework, and effort are important.
- Ask whether children have any difficulties with science or mathematics. Families should talk often about any difficulties and then follow up if there appear to be continuing problems.
- Use a homework hotline if the school has one. This may be school-based or supported by individual teachers during designated hours.
What Are Some Ways in Which Families Can Help Their Children?
Some teachers, even entire schools, arrange home-based science activities to supplement school instruction. Family members become enthusiastic and develop a stronger bond with the school. They often say, “Let’s have parent involvement programs more often.” “It helps me keep in touch with my child.” “The activities didn’t take too much time, so it was simple to include them into our busy evening schedule.” “I think it’s great to get the parents involved. Each activity we did benefited our older child and our younger child who is not even in school!” (Williams-Norton, Reisdorf, & Spees, 1990, pp. 13–15). Meaningful activities can be found for young children in magazines such as Click and Dragonfly.
The rich variety of science teaching resources makes it easy to suggest home study extensions. Giving options help families to overcome limits of time and materials. When making suggestions for families, keep these criteria activities in mind (Williams-Norton et al., 1990, p. 14):
- The activities should be at grade level and developmentally appropriate for the child. Select options with the special needs of the children in mind.
- Activities should require materials that are available at home. No family will welcome traveling to gather together materials, and many cannot afford the expense.
- The activities should supplement what is taught in school, not duplicate it. Do not expect family teaching to be a substitute for your own responsibility.
- Provide complete and accurate instructions including instructions for safety. Try the activities yourself before sending them home. Can a child do the activity with minimal adult guidance?
- Select activities that emphasize simple and accurate concepts. Cross-check the concepts of the activity with those of your textbook or science program. Are they consistent? If they are different, modify them or select another activity. Choose activities that emphasize a main science idea, and encourage the family to continue emphasizing this main idea.
- The activities should be fun. Families will enjoy a special time together when the activity is fun. Encourage families to share the joys and mysteries of science. Positive attitudes toward science from families will benefit school science.
- Develop the concepts of sink or float and density by floating common objects such as straws and plastic buttons in plain water and in salt water. Because the density of salt water is greater, objects that sink in plain water often float in salt water. Try adding different amounts of salt to water to explore the effects of salt concentration on density and floating.
- Explore primary and secondary colors. Following the directions on food coloring packages, prepare different colors, and arrange them in glass jars. Dye macaroni or paper to represent the colors of a rainbow. Combine the three primary colors to produce every color.
- Demonstrate magnetism by having children compare the effects of magnets on different objects in the kitchen. Let the children predict which objects will and will not be attracted to the magnets.
- Use building blocks to develop the concepts of set and order. Lay a foundation of three blocks; then place two blocks on the next layer and one block on the top layer. Ask the children to count the blocks and to estimate how many blocks would be necessary to build towers six and ten blocks high.
© ______ 2009, Allyn & Bacon, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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