Thursday, August 25, 2011

Take Time To Teach

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

Take Time To Teach

Have you ever looked at your kids and thought, “Where has the time gone? They are growing-up so fast.” Then you have that “I’ve lost something” feeling in the pit of your stomach. Don’t worry, you’ve always got time.

I read the interview in the Daily Advance last week about home schooling, and I thought to myself, “Everybody should be ‘home schooling’ their kids.” Subjects like responsibility, organizational skills, critical thinking, time management, self-sufficiency, independence, and other so called ‘soft skills’ can best be taught at home. How many parents take time to teach?

In today’s world where budget-cuts have affected so many educational extras like field trips, arts programs, and science lab experiences, just to name a few, parents will have to step up to the plate and get in the education game themselves. No longer can schools of any kind be expected to do everything they used to do.

That’s not necessarily a bad situation, and parents should view it as an opportunity to interact with their children on a valuable level. There are so many experiences in the home and in daily life that provide the perfect teachable moment that all good teachers seek. A parent is the child’s first teacher.

One of my favorite Christmas books is THE PRECIOUS PRESENT which says that the best gift you can give is to be present in the moment. As I watch visitors to Port Discover, I delight in seeing the parents and grandparents that truly connect with their kids while explaining something to them in an exhibit. They aren’t talking on their cell phone, texting, or making their grocery list. They are fully engaged with the child, and the experience is made more valuable for both of them.

Our area has a wealth of resources to assist families with the enrichment of kids’ education. Parents are accessing the Museum of the Albemarle, Arts of the Albemarle, Port Discover, the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center and Park, the public library, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, church groups and other organizations which supplement children’s education.

Life presents so many opportunities to teach kids. Our threatened visit from hurricane Irene provided the perfect time to teach emergency preparedness and the science of weather. Many sites ( and on the internet featured information for kids about earthquakes.

Books like 100 THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR KID... and others present suggestions from “sail over your house in a hot air balloon” to “be on the lookout for a double rainbow.” As you do these things, help your child study the science background of the event.

Modeling the behavior you want your child to develop is the most important thing you can do. I once read that kid’s seeing their parents read to themselves is just as important as their being read to by their parents. Supporting your child’s education comes in many forms which all require your participation.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer Bucket List

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

Summer Bucket List

Some of my neighbors are moving south, to South America in fact, and I’m going to miss them. The twenty- two avian acrobats who live in the house in my front yard are flying to spend the winter in warmer lands.

After many years of trying, we finally were able to attract a colony of purple martins. They made our summer delightful with their music, family life, and soaring antics. We spent hours watching them and trying to figure out what they were doing and why.

Now the martins are leaving, and that is one more sign of the season’s changing. Soon the humming birds will be gone too. It reminds us all of our summer bucket lists which need to be completed. Have you checked yours lately?

If you have not been to the new Jennette’s Pier at the beach, you are in for a real treat. For a donation, you can walk out on the pier and feel like you are in the lap of the natural world. Leaning over the railing and watching the fish, jelly fish, skates, sting rays and other ocean life in their habitat is a glorious experience.

Other activities not to be missed, if it has been a while since you’ve enjoyed them, are going to the Wright Brothers Memorial and attending the Lost Colony Drama. Climb up to the memorial and survey the landscape. At the drama, be sure and take the backstage tour to learn all the behind the scenes secrets. Hear how DNA testing may soon alter the legend of the lost English colonists.

An afternoon at Port Discover and the Museum of the Albemarle will please both young and old. A new inhabitant and a new exhibit are soon to be unveiled at the science center. Go to the Downtown Waterfront Market on Saturday morning and enjoy the products that are grown locally.

Get out with your children and view the summer constellations which differ from the winter sky. Start planning your fall garden, and let the kids help with the preparation.

If you are a teacher, I know that turning the calendar to August directed your mind to your plans for the new school year. Look into taking you class on the H.A.S. IT Tour to the Art Center, Port Discover, and the Museum of the Albemarle. For a small fee, your students can spend a day exploring new exhibits and activities at all three places. Go on line to see the hands-on outreach programs that Port Discover offers.

Reading the story of the Wright brothers’ childhood and how they liked to experiment and build and had their mother’s encouragement reminded me how important it is that kids have a variety of experiences which will open doors for them. As William Wordsworth said, “the child is the father of the man.” Work on that summer bucket list.
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