Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Helping Young Children’s Development Through Reading

By Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent

Adults expend a lot of energy feeding, clothing, sheltering, and completing other basic duties when caring for a child. It becomes easy to forget that children are also developing their own minds.

Rather than just thinking of a child as an individual with needs, treat them as an individual with a mind. Children are constantly learning about the world, and as adults in their lives perform fundamental tasks, children’s minds are seeking to understand what everyone already knows!

Reading is a process that assists children as they learn to communicate and make sense of what they experience. It also provides great fun for both the adult and the child. The most important aspect of the reading process is to remember to read with your child, as opposed to reading to your child. Reading with your child is a collaborative process that engages you and your child in navigating the book’s story, characters, and your own ideas about what is happening.

There are a variety of approaches that can be utilized when reading and learning with your child. Each has a place in the adult-child interaction, but relying on any single approach will not lead to positive results. When these approaches are diversely incorporated into a child’s learning experiences they have proven effective in building cognitive and social-emotional skills.

Mindfulness — Mindfulness is a way of thinking about things not as they are, but as they could be. It recognizes the potential for many different outcomes. Mindfulness is an active and intentional way of being in the moment with your child by following their imagination to extend thinking and learning.

Questioning — Assessment questions are a beginning step in an adult-child interaction because they are used to help determine where a child is in his or her thinking. For example, “Do you know what color that it?” Many times these questions can be answered with a single word response like “yes”, “no”, or “blue”. These questions help you determine where to go next with learning.

Assistance questions are used to get the child thinking about what they are experiencing and often what others are thinking. These are open-ended and usually require an explanation with the reply. These questions are the who, what, why, and how. An example is, “What do you think is going to happen next in the story?”

Explaining and Instructing — Sometimes children need just a single piece of information to make a leap into full understanding. Other times, they just want to know some more information. It is important to follow the child’s lead in order to determine when and where to incorporate explanation because you don’t want to get in a habit of answering before you examine the teachable moment.

Modeling — Teens and adults are always modeling human behavior and interaction for children. Learning through observation is one of the primary learning strategies for children. They watch how people interact, how to behave in different situations, and how to treat others. Another type of modeling is imitating what you see. By physically acting out what is read, children can learn about their bodies and voices.

Feedback — Commenting on a child’s performance can be an effective means of assistance, but it must be relative to a standard. Saying “good job” is not beneficial feedback because it doesn’t help a child determine the importance of what they are doing. “You did a good job, because...” helps children understand the why behind thoughts and actions.

Maintaining Focus — Sometimes it is hard to maintain a child’s focus. Children have to learn skills to maintain their focus and follow the story of a book. Rather than using authority to manage distractions, try to offer choices such as finishing a page and then doing something else, stopping now, or skipping ahead. You can also regain focus by asking the child to tell the story or discussing the pictures.

Source: Emergent Literacy: Helping Young Children's Development Through Reading; A publication made available by K-State Research and Extension; Available at: http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore/pubs/MF3161.pdf

Monday, September 29, 2014

Downs Producer Exhibited Grand Champion Soybean at the Kansas State Fair

By Sandra Wick, Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent

You just never know how your crop will turn out when you plant it. But for Monika and Brent Harzman, Downs, one part of their soybean crop turned out a winner so far! There soybean plant entries in the 2014 Kansas State Fair earned top honors.

Brent and Monika Harzman, Downs, captured the Grand Champion 
Soybean Plant entry at the 2014 Kansas State Fair along with 2nd and 5th place.

The Harzman’s had three entries in the 2014 Kansas State Fair Soybean Plant Show. All three entries received awards including the overall Grand Champion Soybean Plant with variety Mycogen 5N385. Their other two entries in Maturity Class III were Phillips 375 which received 2nd place and Producer Hybrids 3801 that received 5th place.

The Kansas State Fair soybean plant classes were divided into different maturity classes that included II through V. The plants were evaluated on maturity, pod or soybean production, free from insect or disease damage along with root development and nodulation. 

The K-State Research and Extension, Post Rock District, Soybean 
Demonstration plot, with cooperator, Brent and Monika Harzman,
 located west of Downs.

Not only did the Harzman’s exhibit entries in the Kansas State Fair, but they were also a cooperator of a soybean demonstration test plot for the Post Rock Extension District. The plot is located just west of Downs on County Road 685. Go north on County Road 685 for 1 ½ miles and the plot is on the east side of the road. All the varieties are signed so you can take a look to see how they are progressing. The plot includes 22 varieties and will be harvested separately with the yield reports distributed to producers in helping them determine the best adapted varieties for this area.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Six Innovative Minds Changing the Face of the 4-H Community

By Abbye Hendrich, 4-H Program Coordinator

On Sunday, October 21st, six 4-H Council members went to work on their 4-H native grass plot along the Home on the Range nature trail. They also went to work on implementing ways to improve their 4-H community. 

Pictured are Vice President- Nolan Billings; Secretary- Katelyn Ifland;
 Kendra Billings; Treasurer- Jayden Meyer; Ken Wagner; Not Pictured- Talyn McKenzie  
“This is such a great group of kids to work with”, stated 4-H Program Coordinator, Abbye Hendrich. “They are always ready to try new things and think outside the box.”

Smith County 4-H Council is comprised of elected delegates from each 4-H Club. They meet on a regular basis to discuss innovative ideas, program improvements, and county-wide initiatives. 

“We are always brainstorming in an attempt to do what is best for each 4-H member, 4-H family, 4-H club, and ultimately the 4-H community as a whole” continued Abbye Hendrich.

Keep a lookout for what these ground-breaking kids are planning next as we all strive “To Make the Best Better.”