At Peck, veteran faculty members embark on a robust professional development journey every four years called a "deep dive." These deep dives are self-directed yearlong processes that promote profound personal development, self-reflection, and a ‘ripple effect’ of innovation and energy in the classroom. This year I am embarking on a journey to explore the power of words that are portrayed in children’s picture books.
When you think of your child starting kindergarten, you likely think about children holding a pencil correctly to properly write their name, or drawing a picture with crayons, or painting on an easel. These all require fine motor skills.
After more than 20 years as a kindergarten teacher at The Peck School, I would argue gross motor skills are actually more important because they help promote a child’s fine motor skills and also set a child up for success in school.
What are gross motor skills? Gross motor skills are movements that use large body muscles that a child makes with their arms, legs, feet, or entire body, such as crawling, running, hopping, skipping, and jumping. Even something as simple as standing, walking, and sitting up straight are examples of gross motor skill development.
Gross motor skills are important in children’s everyday lives. Whether it is independently getting dressed, climbing on a playground, or riding a bike, gross motor skills can provide benefits when a child enters a classroom. Without adequate gross motor skills, a child may not be able to physically sit up straight, or hold their body upright to sit at a desk and write.
So how do we strengthen core muscles to improve gross motor skills? The key is physical activity. Here are four ways you can help foster these skills in your child:
Every spring, seventh-grade students immerse themselves in the world of Maycomb, Alabama as they parse the complexities and power of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Considered a foundational text through which to explore the damaging impact of Reconstruction-era white supremacy, segregation, and Jim Crow practices, To Kill a Mockingbird also has a great deal to say on the subject of gender. Scout, Lee’s young protagonist, subverts the expectations assigned to her gender in myriad ways through her attire, comportment, and values. Shirking the expectations of a “lady,” Scout faces numerous obstacles to the development of her authentic self, but none hit home quite so harshly as the pressure applied by her beloved brother, Jem.
Like most people, at any given time, I am achieving some of my goals and not achieving others. Part of the challenge is that goals come in different sizes. Some are small, tidy as an afternoon, things that you can just check off, like cleaning the garage. But others are large; they spread across the years, cast long shadows, and may be so big, so important, that you are reluctant even to say them aloud.
With so many educational options, how as parents do you evaluate the strength and fit of a school's program for your child?
In this free guide we explore five markers of a great school, including:
- Do the teachers and teaching style at the school connect with the way you learn best? Do you enjoy the Harkness-style, for example, or prefer a teacher-led classroom?
- Will you feel toward the head of the class, versus the middle or bottom? Will the challenge of the curriculum feel appropriate?
- How do you want to grow in the next four years? Think of yourself not just as a ninth-grader, but all the way through the next four years. Which environment and set of people will best help you achieve that vision you have for yourself?
- In which environment will you be able to most grow as a leader? Will you have the extracurricular opportunities you love and will you be able to grow and develop as a leader within your interest?