Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Too Cold for school? Create memories!


Too cold for school? Make it Memorable!

       Remember “Snow days” as a child?  Growing up on the east coast, snow days were few and far between.  Certainly it never got cold enough to close school on account of the temperature but the few snow days we had were almost magical. 
     My brothers and I were already at the bus stop when my mother would call us home with the big news!  We changed our clothes as quickly as we could and were outside again in minutes.  It was a free day. No chores, no homework, no responsibility. Just fun! Snow forts, sledding, snowman contests and snowball fights filled those days with memorable fun. We built a snow tunnel one year with the neighborhood kids that lasted well into the spring thaw.  We would only go home to change out of wet mittens or wet socks and be outside again in minutes, telling our parents that we were not cold at all and hoped they believed us.  We did not want the fun of those days to end.  They were magical!
    It makes me smile to think of my students and what they did or thought when that robocall came in last night.  I hope they were excited as I was when my mom called me back from the bus stop. While I will admit it is too cold to be playing outside, I hope they are making happy memories this day. There are so many things they can be doing inside. Maybe they can build that Gingerbread house there was no time to make during the holiday rush.  Forget about the New Year’s resolution for that diet and make ‘magic’ cookies (It’s a free day).  Trace young children’s bodies on left over wrapping or brown packaging paper, cut them out and let them decorate their “future selves”.  Build a fort with pillow and blankets in the living room. Invite friends over to play conventional board games or card games.  As a speech pathologist my favorites for children are Outburst Jr. or Tribond Jr.  They are great for building both semantic and pragmatic language skills.  
     It is my hope that our students are having a vacation from technology today. Too many of our children are attached to their tablets, smart phones, PCs and game systems.  It saddens me when I see a family dining in a restaurant and all members are staring at their phones or tablets and no one is talking to each other. I am amazed when my students tell me about the vacations they've taken with their families and their favorite memory of that time was getting to the “next level” of a game on their tablet or game system. 
     Our tablets, Smart devices, etc. can be wonderful learning tools. Their usefulness is immeasurable but they need to be used with caution especially with children. Time limits, parental controls and adult supervision are a must when using these devices.  As a speech/language pathologist I am becoming increasingly more concerned with children’s inability to use social language.  Many of our children have difficulty reading non-linguistic cues (e.g.: facial expressions, body language), show little empathy for others or simply do not know the social conventions necessary for joining in a game at recess.  I fear we are losing the art of conversation. Many of our children do not know how to initiate or sustain a conversation with their peers.  It worries me to think about the implications of these skill deficits as they grow older.  So I challenge you to put away your tablets this day and enjoy each other. 
       Whatever you do this day, I hope Goodrich families are making memories that our students will remember 30, 40 or even 50 years from now as a “magical day”.    That is what snow/cold days are all about!  Stay safe and keep warm.

Linda Costigan
Speech/Language Pathologist


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