As the days get warmer and the sun shines longer, it is often a challenge for children to focus on schoolwork and homework. This issue of Today’s Catholic Teacher is filled with useful suggestions to help parents and teachers navigate “spring fever.” These ideas are particularly useful as we prepare children to be mindful of their obligations during the Lenten season.
In Dr. Patricia M. McCormack’s article “Facing Spring Fever,” she highlights the importance of teaching children that school should be their primary vocation. As their first priority, schoolwork and homework must be central to a child’s daily experiences throughout the year. Dr. McCormack suggests setting up consistent daily routines throughout the academic year to provide structure for children and eliminate the need for reminders.
“From a Music Teacher: 10 things I wish every early childhood teacher knew” emphasizes integrating music during early childhood. Many of the strategies are consistent with the need for movement to beat spring fever. Kate Daneluk describes movement-based music strategies such as scarf dancing, moonwalking, and using parachutes.
On a similar note, “Spring Fever: 10 ways to use excess student energy to your advantage” highlights weaving art and music into learning. Our second-grade son recently participated in an after-school program focused on integrating art with STEM concepts. He was awed by the exploration of cells, movement and motion, and tornados, while practicing his artistic talents. Developing interdisciplinary connections are a novel way to refresh your teaching this spring.
Just as routines are useful for all children in and out of school, Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur’s article about working with children with high-functioning autism further emphasizes the importance of using routines for special populations. When I was a first-year teacher in 1999, I learned about Asperger’s Syndrome firsthand when I attended a meeting with a student’s psychiatrist. The doctor explained how high-functioning autism affected my student in school and shared strategies for supporting him. I realized that the key to successful learning for my student was supporting his behavior challenges through my classroom expectations. The author highlights what I believe to be the most important reminder for teachers working with students with high-functioning autism: The student’s behavior is not a result of poor parenting, and teachers must remember to emphasize the student’s strengths.
I hope you feel reinvigorated this Lenten season.
Dr. Lisa D’Souza