STEAM IN THE LIBRARY AND IN HOMESCHOOLING

It’s been a little while since I’ve made a post. Here’s what I’ve been up to…

For the past few months I’ve been gathering information, doing research, attending webinars, and working vigorously toward starting a non-profit Homeschool Group for families in need in my community. And I’m happy to announce, it has been a great success!

I’m so excited to share this news with you, so let’s dive right in!

What is Homeschool Group?

Homeschool Group is a place where families can come together and socialize, and kids can engage in self-paced, hands-on learning in a relaxed and creative environment. Right now, my group is open to ages 7-10, but I may look at expanding those age brackets as time goes on and I get a better feel for the specific needs of my community.

Where and when is Homeschool Group hosted? How can I attend?

Great question! Homeschool Group is being hosted in the Hendersonville Public Library in Tennessee. This group is held on the first Monday of each month at 2 PM. Sign-up sheets can be found in the Children’s area. For other cool events we have going on, check out our Facebook page or Instagram feed for updates and calendar info!

My personal goal with Homeschool Group is to inspire creativity and encourage social emotional learning while exposing children to the five elements of STEAM education; science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

Around the room I have activity tables set up for kids to visit, imagine, and explore the wonders of reading, science, building, writing, creating, socializing, inventing, and playing!


Each of our tables is inspired by STEAM concepts, and is designed to encourage creative thinking and problem solving, enhance motor skills and social-emotional learning, and inspire children to find connections and explore the realm of imagination in a safe and fun environment.

DISCOVERING THE SCIENCE BEHIND A RAINCLOUD

Throughout the building process of this project, I was able to get some fabulous inspiration and ideas from several webinars, a few that I will mention here.

The two that stood out among the rest were STEAM in the Public Library: Programs & Services for Children and Creative Spaces and Family Engagement in Libraries, both available on Webjunction. Now, for those of you who may not know this, in addition to being a children’s book writer, I am also a Children’s Librarian. And, being homeschooled for the majority of my childhood, I have extensive knowledge of what it’s like to be in that position. How hard it can be to make connections within the community. Finding the right resources. Finding places to go. And forget about costs! You can’t find a “cheap” homeschooling program or event to participate in, and free? Free is unheard of. Everything costs something, and most often, it’s a higher price than the average family is looking to spend. Especially when you have more than one child. And that’s not a slight at pricing. It’s very possible that the price is justified and appropriate for whatever services are being offered, but nonetheless, many families simply can’t afford it.

Prepping our activities!

So naturally, coming from a place of understanding, I wanted to offer a service to these families that wouldn’t dip into their pockets. And after some well thought out planning and a trial run, we were finally up and running!

Back to the wonderful Webinars I was able to enjoy. Here are a few of the notes I took from Creative Spaces and Family Engagement in Libraries, that really made me think about why art is such an important role in a child’s life.

The arts are not just expressive and effective. They are deeply cognitive. The arts develop essential thinking tools:

Pattern recognition and development.

Mental representations of the observed/imagined.

Symbolic and metaphorical representations.

Abstraction from complexity.

Cross wiring of brain areas.

Engagement with an art trains the brain to FOCUS, improving learning

* Interest in an art form leads to sustained attention when practicing that art form.

* Engaging in art involves resolving conflicts among competing possible responses.

* The ability to resolve conflict among competing responses is also a crucial aspect of attention training.

Arts integration improves learning

Studies consistently show:

* Greater emotional investment in classes.

* Work more diligently and learn from each other.

* Parents become more involved.

* Teachers collaborate more.

* Increased cross-curricular learning.

* Curriculum becomes more authentic, hands-on and project-based.

https://learn.webjunction.org/mod/page/view.php?id=448

Whew! That was a lot to type up. But, well worth it. In fact, I loved it so much, I printed it all out and laminated copies for personal inspiration and reminders as I plan each group.

A few other points I took from this seminar that I really appreciated; I want to share with you below.

Art is a form of self-expression.

Art experiences should not invite sameness. Art should not require an instruction sheet. Art should not have a deadline. Art should encourage creativity, not conformity.

Think of setting up an art experience in the same way you would think of setting up a science experiment.

Encourage tinkering. Invite inventiveness.

Art is not a team sport.

Most often, artistic creation is solitary. Group art WILL leave some kids feeling rushed and compared.

https://learn.webjunction.org/mod/page/view.php?id=448

Yes, yes, YES, to all of the above! If you don’t believe this to be true, I suggest taking a look at my book, ADHD and Me. Yep, shameless self-promo. But I wouldn’t try to sell you if I didn’t think it’s true. And I happen to know it is because it was inspired by a real young lady, who went through the same everyday challenges as Malory. Who was that young lady? Me.

About the book: ADHD and Me is an SEL (social-emotional learning) book about a young girl named Malory who has ADHD. Throughout her neurodiverse journey, she is encouraged to express herself using art, by her art teacher Ms. Julie, who was diagnosed as a young girl with Autism. With the help of her fabulous support system, including friends and family, Malory is able to find the joys in life and embrace her differences.

Now for my notes on STEAM in the Public Library: Programs & Services for Children with guest speaker Amy Koester and blogger, “THE SHOW ME LIBRARIAN.”

A little bit about Amy. Amy is a Learning Experiences Manager of a Public Library. She serves as a vice president of ASLC, and she’s a big supporter of her library and community. To see more about her click here.

Amy is a kindred spirit and fellow supporter of all things STEAM. And, her blog is simply AMAZING. Here is a link to visit her blog, THE SHOW ME LIBRARIAN.

So, a few things that I took away from this webinar are listed below.

  • American children are lagging behind other countries when it comes to creative thinking.
  • School and life success isn’t just about reading.
  • Creativity is a top work skill. Today, big companies are looking for outside-of-the box thinkers and problem solvers. It is a highly valued and sought after trait in today’s workforce. And understandably so. Children who are adept learners and creative problem solvers statistically fair better in all avenues of life.

Now, a few of the suggestions that Amy gives are:

  • Set up activity stations (check!)
  • Observation station (check-check!)
  • Sensory lights (FUN!)
  • Sand (PERFECT!)
  • Rocks (LOVE!)
  • Glow in the dark (Who doesn’t love glow in the dark stuff?)
  • Grow plants (Check!)
  • Root gardens (Fantastic idea)
  • Incorporate living things (100%)
  • Butterflies/ant farms- and tie in books that fit your experiment! (yes!) While we are on that topic, see if you can sprinkle in non-fiction books too!
  • Snails/worms (yes)
  • Use recyclables (ALWAYS!)

A few other helpful tips to make your programming fun and engaging for your young participants:

Ask Questions!

Encourage them to make something.

Get your hands dirty!

Include things that will involve motor skills.

Make STEAM displays fun: one suggestion Amy gave was a globe! A globe is great because kids can both look at it AND play with it. It spins!

And last but not least, give children the tools to succeed!

November 2021 Mental Health Expo for Families and Children, Hendersonville TN Public Library

If you live in Hendersonville, TN, or a surrounding area, we warmly welcome you to attend our upcoming mental health event! This event will be held on November 20th, 2021, from 10:00, am- 12:00 pm.

Join us on Saturday, November 20th, 2021, at the Hendersonville TN Public Library in celebrating our differences and supporting those around us in the community who are dealing with mental health problems.

Our speakers will be sharing a little bit of hope, comfort, and understanding, as well as providing resources to help aid children and families.

Local children’s book authors Chelsea Radojcic-DiCicco and Mary Elizabeth Jackson will be sharing topics on how to empower your children today as well as how to help children in school and within the family.

Chelsea’s picture book entitled ADHD and Me follows eight-year-old Malory, who has ADHD and shows life through her eyes. It describes her daily interactions with her family and tells her perceptions of school life from the teachers, students, and herself. Throughout the story, Malory shared her observations of others around her while also navigating her own feelings.

Mary’s *newly released* middle-grade book, Cheers From Heaven, navigates the emotions of five students who bullied a boy with cancer. After his death, the five students befriend one another and journey to find the boy’s notes that he left behind. This story handles grief, forgiveness, and healing.

Crisis Counselor Jason Scruggs will be addressing the acknowledgment, assessment, and addressing of your child’s emotional well-being.

And Cary Massey, President of Next-Level Consulting, will be discussing how to build healthy relationships. If you’re in the area, stop by! We would love to have you.

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GUEST SPEAKERS & DISCUSSION TITLES:

Mary Elizabeth Jackson

Empowering Our Kids Today

Chelsea Radojcic-DiCicco

Helping Children at School and Within the Family

Jason Scruggs

Acknowledging, Assessing, & Addressing the Emotional Well-Being of Your Child

Cary Massey

Building Healthy Relationships

Mental Health Matters, September 18th 2021, Gallatin Public Library Event for children, family, and community.

The Mental Health Matters Event inside of Gallatin Public Library was featured this afternoon on Special Needs TV, hosted by Bridgetti Lim Banda, and was streamed live from Cape Town, South Africa. Bridgetti interviewed participants of the event, Mary Elizabeth Jackson, (Chelsea Radojcic-DiCicco) Chelsea’s World of Books, and Jason Scruggs, on who they are and why they came out today.

The presenters’ common goal in joining together today was to provide mental health aid and support to the community, families, children, and educators. Despite the heavy rains, the group was able to band together and find creative ways to reach their audiences at home. Thanks to Mary’s quick thinking and resourcefulness, she was able to get ahold of her co-host of her Special Needs TV show, and Bridgetti, the show producer, was gracious enough to bring us on live to share our message with viewers.

The rainclouds were filled with silver linings today! Thank you to everyone who came out to support the effort, and if you weren’t able to make it out, you can see our our interviews on Facebook > Special Needs TV > Mental Health Awareness EXPO > posted 09/18/2021.

Thank you for visiting! 🙂

Awareness & Support Expo May 8th 2021

Saturday morning, faces shined as we gathered into the Hendersonville Public Library of Sumner county for a special event: The Awareness and Support Expo “for families and friends caring for individuals with special concerns.” To mention a few among the groups that joined were The Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Borderless Arts Tennessee, Rainbow Mosho, Mary Elizabeth Jackson, Susan Bailey Moss, and myself, Chelsea Radojcic-DiCicco.

Families and children cozied up in the warmth of this charming library while the piano played in the background. Also hosted on May 8th was a book sale. Usually this is held semi-annually, however, due to covid precautions and safety guidelines for the state and protection of patrons, the library had held off on hosting over the past year. Both events were put together by the Director of the Library, Diane Johnson, as well as the rest of the Library staff members.

ABOUT THE ATTENDEES

Borderless Arts Tennessee is a non-profit organization run by the state of Tennessee, committed to presenting programs for individuals with disabilities. Through the aids it provides, it adds to the enjoyment and empowerment of the community. For more information, visit their website here.

The Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities has a Facebook page, hosted by the DIDD Communications Department. Their mission is to support all people statewide in “living the lives they envision for themselves.” Their page aims to promote an informative and community-focused online experience. 

Mary Elizabeth Jackson is an author and advocate for Autism TN. She co-hosted the interview conducted on Amazon Live with Bridgetti Lim Banda, May 8th 2021, on Autism and special needs.

Rainbow Mosho is a twelve-year-old artist and author with Autism, working her way towards empowering other children and families with special needs through her inspirational work. Her goal is to “give hope to all the kids in the world” with her book and words.

Chelsea Radojcic-DiCicco is a local children’s author living just outside of Nashville TN, currently seeking representation. Her memoir, ADHD and Me, was inspired by events in her own childhood and deals with the day-to-day challenges and triumphs as seen through the eyes of an eight-year-old little girl named Malory.

Throughout the story, “Malory” expresses her feelings and observations towards others around her and describes the challenges presented not only for herself, but for her parents and teachers as they strive to best care for her needs. The story lightly touches on real life topics such as trips to the Principal’s office as well as the decision whether or not to take medication. Malory identifies her support system, consisting of her family and one particularly gifted art teacher by the name of Ms. Julie. Ms. Julie, diagnosed with Autism at a young age, “understands what it’s like to do things a little bit differently,” and now uses art to help guide children like Malory to find their own inner calm. The story ends on a positive note of hope that “maybe one day” her story will be read by someone else who struggles with something and it will “help them and remind them that they too are beautiful and loved.” The closing line reads, “Your differences are precious gifts… embrace them.” ADHD and Me is a beautiful celebration of neurodiverse learning. It is currently being hosted for free download on NetGalley. For more about the author, please check out the ABOUT THE AUTHOR tab of this website.

Purchase links: paperback, hardcover, audiobook.

Purchase links: here and here. For more about Mary Jackson, press here to visit her website.

Purchase links here and here. For more information on the author/artist, press here to visit her website.

CLICK HERE to watch live interviews with the authors recorded on May 8th 2021.