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Nipissing-Parry Sound Catholic

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Index

1. Language Learning and the Developing Brain

The child's brain is different from the adult brain in that it is a very dynamic structure that is evolving. A two-year-old child has twice as many synapses (connections) in the brain as an adult. The young brain must use these connections or lose them. Thus, failure to learn a skill during a critical or sensitive period has important significance. According to Dr. Michael Phelps, Chairman of the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology of the UCLA School of Medicine, the learning experiences of the child determine which connections are developed and which will no longer function.

Dr. Patricia Kuhl, a Speech Scientist at the University of Washington, reports that babies are born "citizens of the world" in that they can distinguish differences among sounds (temporal, spectral, and duration cues) borrowed from all languages. They are ready to learn any language they hear, but by six months of age, they start to specialize in their native language.

Dr. Susan Curtiss, Professor of Linguistics at UCLA, who studies the way children learn languages, notes that in language development there is a window of opportunity in which the child learns that first language normally. After this period, the brain becomes slowly less plastic and by the time the child reaches adolescence, the brain cannot develop "richly and normally any real cognitive system, including language. "The four- or five-year old learning a second language is a "perfect model for the idea of the critical period." According to Dr. Curtis ...the power to learn language is so great in the young child that it doesn't seem to matter how many languages you seem to throw their way...They can learn as many spoken languages as you can allow them to hear systematically and regularly at the same time. Children just have this capacity. Their brain is just ripe to do this...there doesn't seem to be any detriment to...develop(ing) several languages at the same time.

When children wait until high school to start studying a foreign language, the job is much harder. The task now involves learning the rules of grammar, translating, reading, and trying to develop language learning strategies. The task is a different one than it was for the young child in the sensitive period for language learning. Brain plasticity has been lost, the number of synapses has greatly reduced, and the brain no longer has the same facility to restructure itself that it had when the child was young.

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2. Make Writing an Everyday Activity

Here are some everyday activities which can engage your child in writing. Encourage your child to:

  • Help you to prepare a grocery list or shopping list. Use newspaper flyers or package labels to help with spelling
  • Write thank you notes for birthday and Christmas presents
  • Make his/her own greeting cards for special occasions
  • Prepare invitations for a family get-together
  • Add a note at the bottom of a letter or email to a relative

Make writing fun by providing a variety of tools: paper of different sizes or colours, index cards, paper bags, stick-on notes, pencils, gel pens, markers and stencils. The list is endless!

Yes You Can Help! Information and Inspiration for French Immersion Parents. Alberta Education, 1997.

3. Will a Second Language Interfere With My Child's English Ability?

In most cases, learning another language enhances a child's English ability. Children can learn much about English by learning the structure of other languages. Common vocabulary also helps children learn the meaning of new words in English. Experimental studies have shown that no long-term delay in native English language development occurs between children participating in second language immersion classes and those schooled exclusively in English.

If My Child Is Enrolled in a Language Program in Her School, What Can I Do To Help Her Learn and Practice?

Most importantly, encourage your child's interest in the language and in other cultures. Show your child that you value the ability to speak a second language. Attend cultural events that feature music, dance, or food from the country or countries where the language is spoken. If possible, provide some books, videos, or other materials in the second language. If you are familiar with the language yourself, read to her. Summer programs offering international exchange are suitable for older children and offer valuable opportunities to speak the second language and explore a different culture firsthand. Children normally live with a host family, which provides them with a safe and sheltered environment where they can practice their language skills.

Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics.

4. Homework Tips

Children need to know that their parents and adults close to them think homework is important. If they know their parents care, children have a good reason to complete assignments and turn them in on time. There is a lot that you can do to show that you value education and homework.

  • Set a Regular Time.
  • Pick a Good Study Area.
  • Remove Distractions.
  • Provide Supplies and Identify Resources.
  • Set a Good Example.

Helping Your Child with Homework - September 1995
OFFICE OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH AND IMPROVEMENT

5. Share the Joys of Reading

Sometimes an article is so good, it bears repeating. This article by Francine Frisson was first printed in the "CPF National Newsletter" in 1989. Francine was a vice-principal in West Vancouver , B.C.

Parents of French Immersion students often realize the importance of reading to their children but feel at a loss when they cannot do so in French. They are concerned about their children's education and want to help. How can they help their child in reading when they themselves do not read French?

First of all, I am pleased with the interest parents take in the children's reading development. They can be congratulated! Then I let them know the most important thing is indeed to read to their children even though the language they have in common is not French. Reading is not simply being able to decode words, it is so much more.

It is really a positive attitude towards reading that we want to foster. The language used to encourage reading is not important. However, it is important for parents to be good models. It is often difficult to convince someone of the benefits of something if we cannot ourselves show an interest in it. Parents should spend time not only reading for themselves, but in front of their children.

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6. Helpful Websites

Here are a few websites that may assist with your child's learning

~ School News ~

Remembrance Day Celebration(Posted:11/8/2017)

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Join us for our Remembrance Day celebration,

 

Wednesday, November 8th at 1:30

Parent-Teacher Meetings(Posted:11/8/2017)

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Thursday, November 23rd: 3:30-7:20

Friday, November 24th: 8:30-11:20

 

 

 

 

 

Bullying Awareness week(Posted:11/8/2017)

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Bullying Awareness Week

November 13th-November 17th 2017

 

 

Picture Day(s)(Posted:10/4/2017)

 

Picture Retakes: November 16th, 2017

 

 

CSAC Meeting(Posted:9/7/2017)

Elections for the school year: September 19th, 2017

~ Board News ~

SJSH Student and Parent Information Night(Posted:11/9/2017)

All grade 8 students and their parents are invited to join us Tuesday, December 5 at 6:00pm for a high school Information Night at St. Joseph-Scollard Hall. Students and their parents will have the opportunity to tour the school, meet future teachers and ask questions. Find out why it's great to be a bear! We look forward to seeing you on December 5! 

Support Catholic Education(Posted:10/30/2017)

DID YOU KNOW?  Your school support defaults to English Public each time you move residences. You must re-declare yourself as English Separate.    

By ensuring that you are accurately recorded as a Separate School Supporter, you will be able to cast a vote for Catholic trustees in the October 22, 2018 Municipal Election and you are helping to deliver a powerful message to the Ontario government about the level of support for publicly funded Catholic education in our province.

Learn more here: http://www.npsc.ca/support-catholic-education/