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Okotoks Success Helping students develop the skills, habits and attitudes for lifelong success

Drop Everything and Read Day! The month of April brings us several opportunities to celebrate and encourage a love of books and reading. Remember to visit your local library during National Library Week, April 10-16. This national observance, sponsored by the American Library Association, is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians. And don’t forget Drop Everything and Read Day (D.E.A.R. Day) on April 12. National D.E.A.R. Day is a special reading celebration to remind and encourage families to make reading together on a daily basis a family priority. Here are some reasons why every day could be a D.E.A.R. Day! A regular reading routine encourages kids to quiet down, focus on a subject of their own choosing, and build the habit of lifelong reading.  Reading lifts other language arts skills.  Language arts skills – reading, writing, listening, and speaking – improve when kids are exposed to the written word.  When reading is followed by some informal conversation, or even some writing in a personal journal, the experience deepens and spreads to others.  Reading creates routine. Reading time becomes an integral part of other routines that make children

APRIL 2011

feel safe and provide them with structure and clear expectations. Reading routines join bedtime, waking, playtime, family time, homework, and mealtime routines. Reading encourages learning.  Since kids get to choose their own reading material, they’ll feel free to explore new topics – sports, history, science fiction, science facts, the arts – and become experts.  They’ll enjoy feeling like an expert, and you’ll feel proud at their new knowledge.  Reading can help improve school grades.  When kids increase their reading skills, they become more self-assured and their willingness to participate in class discussions grows. Their teachers will notice and so will you. Reading builds confidence.  When kids get to take control of their reading, they learn about new topics of their own choosing, they assert their independence, and they become the family expert on a particular subject or skill. Reading is fun!  Make time each month for a few trips to the library with your children. You’ll get to spend quality time with them, and your kids in turn will have a ball exploring new books, new subjects, and new topics of interest!

In this issue: • Introduce Math to Your Children • A Message from Dr. Rick • Exercise Can Improve Grades

Introduce Math to your Children ...and make if fun! Mathematics Awareness Month is held each year in April and can be a perfect opportunity to encourage the love of math in your children. Traditional mathematics teaching relies on drilling and memorization, and can sometimes be a little overwhelming (even boring!) for children. Parents can help make math fun and approachable by linking it to real-world examples. Memorization of math facts and formulas is an important part of math instruction. In order for children to really understand even basic math facts, they must discover them in the world around them. Encourage your children to learn the value of math by using fun games and activities to help them apply what they’ve learned. Here are some examples to get you started. • Play popular board games that require basic math skills. Chutes and Ladders® and RackO® develop number sense. “24” and Yahtzee® help computation speed and accuracy. Problem solving skills are developed through games like TriOminos® and Connect Four®. • A deck of cards can be a valuable math tool. Card games begin to teach the lesson of probability. Using a deck of cards is also a great way to reinforce addition and subtraction memorization for children learning basic math facts.

• Relate math to your child’s favorite sport. Ask her to calculate the number of points needed for her favorite team to win. Encourage her to create multiple point combinations to reach that score. • Use driving time as math game time. Invite children to figure out how long it will take to get to your destination or estimate how much it will cost to fill up the gas tank. • Dominoes are a great game for children of all ages. Smaller children can use them to organize similar quantities, while older children can explore the concepts of probability. Families looking for additional math resources can access Sylvan Learning’s online Math Activity Book that provides 30 days of math writing topics, questions and puzzles. Families can download the booklet and answers by visiting the Parent Resources section of or at form_math_booklet.cfm

A Message From Dr. Rick Go Outside and Play! Ask just about any adult about favorite childhood memories and you’ll undoubtedly hear stories of play -- unstructured, free-wheeling, outdoor play with friends.   Do kids still do this?  Of course they do, but every busy parent, sometimes worried about neighborhood safety, wonders occasionally if we’re keeping our kids indoors too much.  There are lots of reasons why kids deserve and need plenty of free, unstructured time outdoors. Here are a few. Kids get physical benefits.  Kids need to blow off steam.  Outdoors, they can make noise, run, and burn calories.  They can get some necessary Vitamin D to build strong bones.  (Yes, they still need sunscreen.) All that running, jumping, playing tag, bike-riding, and chasing each other results in improved sleep.  Kids get emotional benefits.  Blowing off all that steam is more than physical.  Kids feel better after exercise, and are more likely to be ready for their homework.  After all, it takes a lot for a kid to hold in a cauldron of pent-up energy.  Read the rest at

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Exercise Can Improve Grades In an effort to boost test performance, many schools are taking time away from physical education and using it for more time in class. But studies now show that rigorous physical activity can actually lead to better grades. In Broward County, Florida, many schools are getting the message. Fourth grade teacher Katherine Bennett takes her students out for a five-minute walk after a long lesson. “I found that when my children start yawning and they start not paying attention, then one way I can refocus those children is to take them out for a brief, little fun walk,” she says. “And by the time we’ve got them back into the room again, they’re ready to study some more.” In fact, according to research from the Medical College of Georgia, kids who are active and play hard have higher levels of concentration, better organization skills and are less impulsive than kids who are sedentary. “The area of the brain that’s involved in cognitive learning is the same area that’s stimulated by physical activity, so the two seem to work hand in hand,” explains Jackie Lund, Ph.D, President of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

Former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. David Satcher agrees, “Children who are physically fit do better academically. They perform better on standardized examinations, they concentrate better, on the other hand, children who are obese are four times as likely to be depressed, very likely to be absent from school.” What’s more, many kids say it’s easy to get distracted if you have to sit still, all day long, in school. “After a while I just get antsy and I want to move around - cause I start to get stiff and it’s like, I want to get up and walk around,” complains 18-year-old Eric DeGreeff. “But in class you can’t really get up and walk around,” Tips for Parents How much exercise does your child need?  According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a “healthy level” of physical activity requires regular participation in activities that increase heart rates above resting levels.  An active child plays sports, participates in physical education classes, performs regular household chores, spends recreational time outdoors and regularly travels by foot or bicycle.

• Encourage regular walking, bicycling, outdoor play, the use of playgrounds and gymnasiums and interaction with other children. • Allow no more than two hours per day to watch television or videotapes. • Promote weekly participation in age-appropriate organized sports, lessons, clubs or sandlot games. • Provide opportunities for physical activities that are fun, increase confidence and involve friends and peers. • Organize regular family outings that involve walking, cycling, swimming or other recreational activities. • Engage in positive role modeling for a physically active lifestyle. Experts say it is important for parents to remember that physical activity doesn’t have to be strenuous to be beneficial.

The AHA offers the following guidelines for maintaining healthy physical activity in children:

For additional information and educational videos, visit

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Okotoks Success April 2011  

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Okotoks Success April 2011  

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