Tag Archives: kindergarten

Three Ways the Oil Spill Affects Education

When the terms “oil spill” and “education” are mentioned in the same sentence, the first and most obvious connection most people make is likely to be to teaching children about the oil spill. How does one convey to them the importance and impact of the situation in an age appropriate way. I have made an attempt to help educators do this with a video “Thoughts on the Oil Spill—There Is Only One Water,” which uses clips of the oil spill combined with a song from my opera Kiravanu that talks in very simple terms about the water cycle, the problem that pollution in one spot affects everyone, and the importance of stewardship.

The copyrighted words are sung by children in Kindergarten through fourth grade who are playing the roles of the Elements—Fire, Earth, Water, Air, and Wood—asking humanity to steward resources thoughtfully:

There is only one water
Only one Earth and one air.
If people pollute, it spreads to others,
Though that really isn’t fair.

Only so much water.
Only so many trees.
If folks use them up, then the whole world has less,
So please pay attention, please!

We must be true to our natures:
We cannot act as we choose,
So while we burn or flow, erupt or blow
Please go give people the news:

There is only one water.

© 2008 James Humberstone and Mary Elizabeth For question, comments, republication, or performance permissions, please contact

There are several other important connections between the oil spill and education. One that has come to the forefront through a speech last week by the Alabama State Superintendent of Education Joe Morton is that when a state has an Education Trust Fund (ETF) funded by a variety of taxes, a catastrophe that impacts those taxes—whether through loss of general sales, loss of tourism, etc.—will impact education funding of public education in that state.

An interview in the Salt Lake Tribune with a Utah resident—formerly an Alaskan fisherman, whose career in that line of work was ended by the Exxon Valdez tanker incident in the 1980s—brings out another way in which the future of education is connected to the oil spill. This article points out that with the cap that Congress put on compensation in the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and the way that the award from the Exxon Valdez spill dragged through the courts, parents’ ability to finance their children’s college educations was impacted.

Brain Research

The brains most crucial development time is when you are a baby. The brain evolves rapidly and the environment in which it develops has a direct effect on the child emotional, social and intellectual development. We know that the years before preschool are vital to brain development.

Researchers once believed that a child’s brain was complete when they were born. It was a common belief that genetics were the sole determining factor on intelligence and brain capacity. Modern research has proven this wrong and shown that the environment in which a child is raised had a direct influence on the development of the brain.

There are many outside influences that are known to have a negative impact on the brains development. Toxins, infection, malnutrition, exposure during pregnancy to drugs and premature birth have all been shown to have a negative impact on the development of the brain. Additionally abuse and neglect are also major factors in the capacity of a brains development. Much more is known about what holds the brain back developmentally than we know about what to do to boost brain development.

The first three years of life are the most crucial. In a setting where they are exposed to negative developmental factors a child born with a normal IQ may never achieve their full potential. One that is exposed to negative factors but experiences and intervention may be able to catch up their peers though with property intervention. This ability of the brain to be able to recover is very promising for children in less than ideal environments and shows us the importance of a healthy, nurturing environment for children. This is great news for those with learning disabilities because we know that the brain is flexible and can overcome delays. This is also great news for those with brain injuries because we know that we can help the brain overcome a lot of the trauma.
By the time a child is in kindergarten a lot can be done to intervene in the development of the brain. This, when done properly and with care, can help a child in school. We all know that if the child gets a great start in elementary school, they have a foundation for life. This starts in the womb and carries on for a lifetime.

Policy makers are faced with a difficult task, they must translate how to make brain research policies beneficial to children. Scientist have much more knowledge on how the brain develops than how to change or enhance it. This would lead one to think that public policy should focus on helping to eliminate the factors that inhibit brain growth such as biological and social conditions.

They cannot over stress the importance of those first crucial years though, lest it lead to neglect of the necessary environment in other times of development. Such as the importance of prenatal care when the brain is particularly vulnerable while first developing or during adolescence which is another time of significant growth.

Kindergarten History

Depending on your state’s board of education your Kindergarten history curriculum could vary from state to state. The basic concept is teaching children how to connect the child to their world.

The Core Knowledge Curriculum gives lessons to help the child with spacial reasoning. The child is introduced to maps and shows where they live on the map in relation to other people and places. The child is taught the continents and can point to them and name them by the end of the year. The history of Christopher Columbus is taught and when the child grasps where the continents are then they can more readily realize how our continent was “discovered”.

The history curriculum is often put in place with geography lessons. The introduction of Native Americans can be taught. It is easy to overlap these subject and to even include art in the process.

Some Kindergarten history curriculum only wants to focus on the child and not branch out to where the child is in relation to the rest of the world. Because children at this age are so much more aware than we give them credit for it is not recommended to simplify things so much.

Teaching history to Kindergarten children can be delightful. The child can learn that what we have today is not how it always was. This can create a feeling of appreciation for the luxuries that we enjoy today thanks to modern science and the great thinkers we benefit from. It is never too young to teach children these things.

History can also take the form of asking children where their ancestors are from. This may help them feel connected to the rest of the world. They can see that not so many years ago they had family on other continents. This is a fun project for the child and the family.

First Day of Kindergarten

No matter what type of education (public school, private school, homeschool, charter school) you have chosen for your Kindergarten student it is an exciting time for the whole family. Here we will discuss things that you may want to go over with your child before they go into the big world of schooling. Also, we will go over a few things that are great rituals to do with your child that will be comforting to them, help them have a say in what happens and to help them get excited about going to school.

Have a routine!

You may want to make a chart or a cute list to post somewhere that the child will readily see it. Also, if your child is not reading yet, either teach them the sight words on the list or put pictures next to the words. Don’t just use pictures as the child should be getting used to learning sight words and learning to read.

On your list you may want to include the everyday things like brushing teeth, washing face, making the bed, taking laundry to where it goes, picking up the room, getting dressed, eating breakfast, getting the back pack ready, packing the lunch, combing hair. This will ease the stress of the early morning madness for you and the child. Children love to know what is expected of them, they find comfort in routine.


If you choose to make your own lunches let your child help you shop for the items that will be needed. Let them have as much input as possible as to what they eat for lunch. A great way to do this while still getting the nutrition that is needed is to offer two options and let them choose. If you don’t use a lunch box or don’t want to keep track of one you can let the child decorate some regular lunch sacks that will have their name on them and any other information the school requires. Children love to decorate things and to take ownership of things that adults take for granted. The child will find comfort in knowing that at lunch time they will be able to easily identify their individual lunch and that it will be satisfying because they chose the items in it and are excited about them.


More and more children are coming home with homework in Kindergarten. Homeschool families don’t have the same issue with homework but both types of families need a good study spot that is conducive to learning. Make sure that the area is free of distractions and well lit. Make it comfortable for the child. If they need extra cushions on the chair so that it is the right height make sure they have what they need. This will make homework a time that is comfortable and peaceful rather than distracting and miserable.

Before the first day of school!

Talk to you child about safety. Tell them what do should they be asked to leave the school with someone. Make sure they know where you will be when school is over and assure them that they are in good hands with their teacher. If they can meet the teacher ahead of time and see the classroom it will feel like a comfort zone to them and things will be better.