Friday, February 22, 2013

Can SNACKademics Save The World?



Well, what would happen if kids learned academic, speech, language, vocabulary, spelling, reading, writing, science, math and social skills 

         Every Day 

                      Quickly & Easily 

                                   During Snack Times & Meal Times?  

What exactly would happen?

Think about it...
It seems that we'd use less paper.  Children wouldn't need so much practice and drill, because they would know all their mathematics concepts before they ever took a formal mathematics class.

We'd have stronger family units, because children would be so competent that they wouldn't need to spend so many hours on homework each day trying to master academic skills. Families could spend more enjoyable quality time together.

We'd have more successful students with flexible divergent thinking skills...(real problem solvers and scientists) graduating into the work force, and discovering ways to put into effect increased productivity and efficiency, for both private and public businesses and agencies.

We'd have more capable, content communicators...happy members in our society, who had learned to articulate well and appropriately verbalize their joys and accomplishments, as well as their frustrations, fears and concerns.  

They would be able to acknowledge and process negative feelings, instead of internalizing them and harboring resentment or anger.


Exposing Young Children To "Difficult" Material

I was still a child myself when a question occurred to me: 

"How can little kids learn the word 'elephant,' if it's such a big word?  For goodness sake, it even has a ph in the middle of it!" 

Over the years that question returned to my mind over and over again. 

Eventually, I realized that it didn't matter how big the word was.   

If it was something a child liked then he would learn it.

I stand by that realization to this day, and that's exactly why I try to make learning exciting and enjoyable.  

The child gets invested, motivation is inherent, and the rest is matter how advanced the material seems to be to an adult.

Isn't it amazing how kids are running rings around most adults when it comes to technology?  It's something that interests them, therefore, they can learn it easily (without stress) from an early age.


Back to saving the world...

Less Stress = Less Disease

And Less Disease Would Be Wonderful

(& could actually lead to lower costs for health care)

Using advanced vocabulary with young children is helpful to them.  It saves them stress and heartache in the end.  They won't need to spend so much time studying for the PSAT, SAT or GRE. 

Some people (who are good students) go along without a hitch, until there comes a day...

maybe in elementary school...maybe in high school or college...when all of a sudden school becomes stressful that you wonder if you're going to be able to handle it. (This could be in an academic context or a social context - [bullying]).

Maybe you can remember a class (and most of us have had at least one) where you became lost and felt helpless as the class moved on and you lagged behind, barely passing quizzes, or feeling like the teacher was speaking a foreign language?  

Perhaps, the teacher was saying things that just didn't make any sense to you.

Perhaps you understood the material theory, but were struck with fear when you had to prove your knowledge in a concrete way by building a model, doing a presentation or teaching that same material to someone else.

I can remember at least 3 different classes, and these 3 happened in college.

The first was Physics 1 (the professor had an accent, and I sat in the class for weeks before realizing that the word he kept repeating that made no sense to me was "angle.").

Calculus 4 - it amazed me that I could get an A+ in Calculus 3 and then walk into Calculus 4 and be lost from day one.

Sailing 101 - On the first day someone capsized a boat.  
The tip of the mast became lodged in the muck on the bottom of the sound in the Flushing, Queens area.  It was February and I saw two of my classmates struggling to get out of the freezing water.  

I had taken Sailing as an "easy" elective course.  The fear that gripped me each time I entered the sailboat was tremendous.  I finished the course, but only because I always went into the boat that the instructor was in.  As an A student, it was disappointing getting a B in a course that was supposed to be a breeze.  That grade ended up bringing down my average quite a bit.

Now, imagine what would have been different if my parents had discussed starboard, port, jib, tacking and other boating terms with me during lunch or dinner over the years.  

What would have happened if I had rolled my Oreos down a cardboard ramp and learned the term "inclined plane," when I was knee high to a grasshopper? 

I might have earned A's in those courses and my stress level would have been less during my undergraduate studies...less stress...a healthier life and less medical costs over the years. 

---------------------------------------------------------------- it or hate it?

I believe that we adults think of some subjects as "difficult," only because we were older when we were first introduced to that particular subject, material or related concepts. 

I always did well at math, but in the 11th grade, I struggled like crazy with geometry.  I had never been introduced to geometrical concepts until that time.  Of course I learned some shapes, but that was about it.  I got through geometry in the strangest way...I would make marks with my nail into my pencil and fashion it into a make-shift ruler so that I could measure the illustrations (which were usually in scale and proportionate) and figure out lengths of sides.  For a person who likes and does well in math, it was a terrible feeling to suddenly be lost.

Well, now I'm on a mission.  I do whatever I can to introduce the common sense aspect of geometry to young children whenever the opportunity arises.

Using my SNACKademics attitude and techniques, I'll say:

"Hey.  Look at this!  If I take my square napkin and fold it from corner to corner...right in half...if I bisect it just like this...I can turn the square into a triangle!  It's like magic!"

"When I open up the triangle napkin I can see the two triangles that make up the square.  Wow!  Two triangles make a square!  Cool!"

I don't give definitions or try too hard to explain it.  The object we are looking at, playing with or eating gives the concrete example of an abstract concept.  Math becomes real... common sense...not so scary.


Yes, math can be frightening and anxiety producing to some people.  Ask a group of adults what their worst subject was in school, and you'd be surprised how many will say, "Math." 

I have found that many teachers (of very young children) have what some might call a math phobia.  They are very uncertain of their own math skills, and will say, "I always hated math" or "Give me anything else and I'll do it, just not math."

These teachers are dependent on using textbooks, word-for-word, in order to teach mathematics to their students.  In fact, it may be why some of them chose to teach the youngest of the that they don't have to teach division, fractions or algebraic concepts.

SNACKademics Can Help Teachers

I believe that using SNACKademics (every day in their own classes) would give teachers with math phobias the confidence that they lack when teaching math.  

They, themselves would learn the common sense aspects of math and be less stressed when writing their lesson plans or getting unexpected questions from students.


The Lasting Affect Of Learning "Difficult" Things, 

             At A Young Age, 

                              In A NON-Stressful Way

During one year, when I was teaching kindergarten, I began using more advanced geometric terms with my students.

One day the school secretary told me that a boy named Frankie had been walking near her desk when he stopped and stared at the Christmas display.  He took one of the round ornaments off the tree and brought it to her.  He held it out to her in the palm of his hand and asked her, 

"Miss Rosemary, did you know that this is a sphere?"

She couldn't wait to tell me what he had said to her when she saw me at lunch time in the teacher's lounge.

I was very proud of Frankie that day, and I'm sure that when he was in high school and the geometry teacher mentioned the word sphere, he smiled and thought back to that shiny Christmas ornament.  A positive memory was tightly tied to the word sphere, because he learned it early-on in a stress-free way.

Happier, more academically-successful children populating the world has to have positive, wide-reaching ramifications.

I'm Noelle Michaels, the creator of SNACKademics, and the author of the book entitled, SNACKademics: Turning Snacks And Meals Into Phenomenal Learning Experiences 

I am convinced that doing SNACKademics with young children from the age of 1 or 2 would change our world in a good way.   

If there is a school or district that would like to see if SNACKademics could raise test scores...give me a call!  

I believe that it would! (201-919-4805)

Just the thought of all the positive changes that would come out of more children having the opportunity to enjoy and learn from SNACKademics makes me smile, feel proud and admit wholeheartedly, that I truly love my job!

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Noelle Michaels, MA, CCC-SLP, LDT-C
Bilingual Speech Language Pathologist
Special Educator & Learning Specialist
Text: 201-919-4805




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