Boulder Elementary Take Home Project Focuses on Foundational Skills
BOULDER – “When I grow up, I want to be President.” This ambitious statement is common among children. It has most likely started many a young person on a lifetime of learning and achievement, which can be a wonderful adventure for one’s life. Though only a few will ever attain such a high goal as President of a country, the learning and preparation for such a goal provides benefits for all children. The monthly Take Home Project for Boulder Elementary School students provides valuable life skills whether the child’s aspirations are towards President of the Senior Class, President of a company or President of the United States.
The skills necessary to become a president are varied, though some foundation skills are critical. Many successful people would put time management and organization skills, logical thinking skills and communication skills on the top of their list of foundation skills to learn. Research and oral presentations during early school years provides excellent opportunities for children to learn these skills. The children at Boulder Elementary School are given this opportunity every month in their Take Home Projects, during which the children research a topic, prepare a paper on the topic and present their topic with visual aids to an audience of students and members of the community. Starting the endeavor early in life builds habits that will increase a child’s probability of success in any ambitious path of life.
Time management and organization skills are valuable for efficient and effective use of one’s time. The time of a person in a leadership position is in constant demand. Without time management and organization skills a person can easily become mired in the constant pull for one’s attention. Time management and organization skills are also important for success in completing long-term projects. The Take Home project allows the students to explore the skills of time management and organization. The children have the competing interests of researching and preparing a report or going out to play, for which they must manage their time. They learn to organize a project from start to finish by learning to identify the steps of the project and estimating the time for each step and then organizing the steps into a sequence with a time line for completing each step. Since the Take Home project is a monthly activity, the students are able to learn from previous projects and apply the time management and organization lessons to future projects.
Logical thinking skills are valuable in getting a thought across to a group of people and to help people with opposing views come together. Communicating a thought to others requires the logical sequencing of components of the thought in a way that fosters understanding by the audience of the communication. The Take Home Project engages the child’s mind in this process. Since the project involves telling a story of one type or another, it requires that the students understand a logical sequence to the story. This logical sequence is expressed twice, first in the written report and then again in the oral presentation. As in all learning, understanding a concept comes though repetition of learning experiences related to the concept and through experiencing the concept in multiple ways.
Communication skills are critical for a leader of any organization. Communication, which is the process of transferring an idea or thought from one person to another either by verbal or non-verbal means, is not always easy and when the communicator is in front of a crowd, the process can be paralyzing. Children on a playground have little difficulty expressing their thoughts. However, a child with 30 sets of eyes focused intently on the child will have greater challenges in communication. The Take Home Project culminates in presentations of each child’s research topic. Each presentation takes 3- 5 minutes and is in front of an audience of peers and other members of the community, which is typically a gathering of 20-30 people of varied ages and backgrounds.
The Take Home Project addresses two types of communication lessons that our children need. The first is the content and grammar of the communication. The children must focus on the content of what they will say and how to say it with appropriate grammar and then practice this before the date of the presentation to allow for a smooth presentation. Then the students must make the presentation in front of an audience. As the school year progresses, the students are gaining confidence in public speaking skills. They have noticeable improvement in the fluidity of their speeches; they are facing the audience more and looking around the room more to connect with the audience. The visual aids have improved and they serve well to illustrate the child’s presentation. The opportunity to work on this level of communication from the earliest age of elementary education will prove to be invaluable as this younger generation moves forward in their education and eventually into careers.
The presentations provide opportunities more far reaching in life than mere presentation skills. The presentations provide everyone, students and adults, the opportunity to learn and practice the life skill of being supportive of another person’s efforts. Talking in front of a crowd is difficult for most people, yet it can be particularly challenging for some young children. Encouragement allows the children to relax and become comfortable during challenging a task.
The students of Boulder Elementary School have embraced the challenges of the monthly Take Home Project and through these challenges they are making positive strides in their abilities and in their life skills. These wonderfully energetic children from all grades are walking a path that will provide many opportunities and the skills they are learning will open many doors. Who knows, these youngsters, our future leaders, may be presidents of their senior class, they may become presidents of corporations or universities, they may become community leaders, state leaders or let us all be so proud if one of our own local children does become President of this amazing United States of America.
The next Take Home Project presentation is scheduled for Friday, January 26th at 10:15 in Boulder Elementary School, which is located at the East end of 300 North Street. The community is welcome and encouraged to attend. Please feel free to come and support our next generation.