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Artistic Assistance

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A recent publication by the non-profit organization Americans for the Arts entitled “Arts Education Navigator” documents two truths about arts in education.

The first truth detailed in the publication is about the great benefits that students receive if they have a high level of involvement in the Arts as part of their education.

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Dare to be Creative

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When asked the question “who was your favorite teacher and why?”, chances are you have someone special in mind who impacted your life beyond the classroom. This person could have challenged you, nurtured you and gave you an outlet for creative expression. Creativity has become an important factor in how a student learns and a teacher communicates to reach their collective goals.

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Walking for Water

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My morning rituals are simple but important to get me and my family ready for the day. I get up, brew a pot of coffee, take a shower, brush my teeth, make oatmeal for the family, feed the dog and leave the house. I perform these feats without ever thinking how different my morning would be if I did not have clean water. I even take it for granted that my pets have clean water.

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Children’s Digital World

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PBS recently published an article for parents that encourages the use computers and states some of the benefits that they can bring to young learners. The site encourages children to use technology as a learning tool, especially when it becomes an extension of their creativity and play time.

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Our Global Initiative

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At FasTracKids, we have long wanted to foster more collaboration among our centers and schools worldwide. We also have had an ongoing devotion to bringing ecological awareness to children in our programs. In an effort to bring these two desires into alignment, in 2013 we are launching the first annual FasTracKids Global Initiative, with this year’s focus being “Water Wise”.

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The Human Factor

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One of the key responsibilities for primary early education is developing the student as a whole. Many early childhood institutions focus on brain development because during the early years most brain connections are formed; which means stimulating those connections is essential.

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The Art of Possibility

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Last August, FasTracKids employees from the corporate office participated in Mexico’s Congreso de Maestros, a countrywide FasTracKids teacher workshop. FasTracKids was asked to create a presentation on how children can find a passion for learning and what to do about challenging behaviors in students.

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The Economics of ECE

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In a recent speech made by the head of the United States central banking system, the importance of early childhood education’s effects on the economy came into focus.

Ben Bernanke, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve stated: “The research shows that effective educations lead to lower rates of poverty, higher lifetime earnings, and greater satisfaction on the job and at home. And specialists in economic development have identified educational attainment as a key source of economic growth and rising incomes in many countries around the world.”

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Are We Having Fun Yet?

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“The highest-level executive thinking, making of connections, and “aha” moments are more likely to occur in an atmosphere of “exuberant discovery,” where students of all ages retain that kindergarten enthusiasm of embracing each day with the joy of learning.”

- An excerpt from Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher by Judy Willis (2006)

Learning should be fun, but traditional education sometimes doesn’t view it that way. Valerie Strauss is the mind behind “The Answer Sheet”, an educational blog in The Washington Post that discussed “Why fun is important in learning”. Judy Willis’ excerpt made an appearance in the blog post, along with other sources that support the idea of making learning an exciting experience helps information processing and long-term memory.

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Amplify Education

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Developing children’s communication skills is one of the cornerstones of FasTracKids’ curriculum. The goal is if communication improves in the classroom, then the chance of making children even better students increases. Research shows that the average child misses 25% of what is being said in a normal classroom setting. That number can go as high as 40% in lost communication, depending on the classroom environment.

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The Sal Khan Experience

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Have you ever come across a child saying “Math isn’t fun, I don’t understand this?” Maybe you have uttered some variation of that sentiment about a particular subject in your academic career. A man named Sal Khan is trying to change that.

This month, several FasTracKids employees had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Khan speak at the University of Denver in Colorado, USA. Mr. Khan founded the Khan Academy, which is a non-profit organization aimed at providing access to good online education completely free of charge. He has posted educational videos on a wide-range of subjects, including Algebra, Economics and Advanced Calculus.

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Celebrate Teachers

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Teacher Appreciation Week (May 7-11th) is almost upon us and as I reflect on what makes a good teacher, I recall 7th grade with Mrs. Popick as my Social Studies teacher.  Just typing her name brings a smile to my face.  She was, without a doubt, the most challenging, knowledgeable, dedicated and committed teacher that I had ever met.

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Nancy’s Book Club

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When FasTracKids conducts training for new franchisees and reiterates the importance of the programs, we share insights from The Global Achievement Gap book. Author and education expert, Tony Wagner, conducted interviews with business leaders asking them what skills are necessary when hiring young employees today.

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Bilingual Benefits

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There are many benefits for children who learn more than one language. Bilingual students are exposed to different perspectives, ideas and cultures. A second language can offer a child new opportunities for self-expression. For students who speak a different language at home than the primary language spoken at their school, bilingual education can be a source for increased self-esteem. In the long term, speaking more than one language may mitigate the effects, or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

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Together, We Create!

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Sharing, listening, belonging, communicating. These actions and feelings can all be associated with how a child learns an important life skill called socialization. During the critical developmental period of a child’s life, from birth to 8 years old, relationships are created with his or her parents, siblings and friends. These relationships require a bond, whether it’s reading a book, sharing a toy or playing a game. The more social interaction a child can experience, the easier it is for them to achieve shared goals.

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The Why of Learning

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This past weekend I was at my local store buying groceries for the week. I did not have my child with me, so I could casually listen as other parents interacted with their children. I overheard one conversation between a mom and her 2-year-old daughter that brought a smile to my face.

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Creativity Takes Courage

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It is fascinating to watch a preschooler at play. Their energy, focus and imagination cannot be duplicated in the adult world. A four year old does not understand the courage it takes to create a work of art or produce a sculpture out of playdough; those fears and inhibitions only come with age. Sara Gable, a State Extension Specialist at The University of Missouri writes about the importance of encouraging creativity in children and ideas for promoting creativity in young children.

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Growth and Language

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As our world has become more of a global economy, there are many things to learn outside of the local culture. One of the more important skill sets in understanding other cultures and communities is by learning their language.

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International Education Week

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Educational opportunities are not limited to just your child’s school, town, state or country. Since 2000, International Education Week has been promoting the benefits of education worldwide. A joint initiative by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, International Education Week serves as a platform to prepare American students to live and work in a global environment while encouraging those outside of the US to study abroad.

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Make a Reading Promise

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Educational opportunities are not limited to just your child’s school, town, state or country. Since 2000, International Education Week has been promoting the benefits of education worldwide. A joint initiative by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, International Education Week serves as a platform to prepare American students to live and work in a global environment while encouraging those outside of the US to study abroad.

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Serving Education

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Four Grand Slam singles titles, a #1 world ranking and the first Serbian player to win a Major singles title, Novak Djokovic has achieved much so far in his professional tennis career. Now Djokovic can add early childhood education advocate to his accomplishments as he joins UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) as an ambassador.

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Happy Returns

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Now that mid September has arrived, students throughout the world who had a break from school are welcomed back. Some of these children are attending school for the first time or are attending a new school.

Back-to-school can be a stressful time for families. An article published in the Family & Parenting section of USA Today outlines several strategies that parents can employ to alleviate some of the stress facing their children.

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FasTracKids PSA for RFTR

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FasTracKids’ CEO and President Nancy Faunce released a Public Service Announcement on becoming an official Reading Partner in Jumpstart’s Read for the Record campaign.

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What’s in a Game?

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Now more than ever, children have a multitude of ways to access the Internet. Through a parent’s smart phone, at school, at home and with newer devices called tablets, children are curious to see what entertainment is instantly available.

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Ready to Read

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It’s difficult to believe that the school holidays will soon come to an end. Within weeks, children will return to the routine of school with a more rigid and controlled schedule. You still have time to enjoy the holidays, and the best way to do that is sharing a good book with your child. Reading over the school break enhances your child’s ability to reenter school without the typical learning loss and the need for extensive review of content covered prior to the holidays.

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