The Superintendent's Report: Educational Gifts

Posted by Daniel Seamans on 12/10/2019 10:00:00 AM

Dr. Jerry L. Oates, Superintendent of Schools


The Superintendent's Report


Recently I was asked by a parent what educational gifts do you think would be appropriate for my child? I responded that it depends on the age of the child. Is he or she an elementary, middle or high school student? Then, I got to thinking about my response. There are some criteria that can be used to assist in gift selection for students that are universal. They are the keys to unlocking learning regardless of the grade level or age. The criteria listed below relate to the skills that students need to possess and demonstrate to be successful in the next decade of this 21st century. They are:


Sensory Learning Gifts

            Students learn with all of their senses. Gifts that require active, hands on development that utilize all of our senses are great learning enhancers. Studies have shown that multi-sensory learning activates a larger number of cognitive connections. Gifts that encourage students to touch, build, measure, follow, run and skip increase neural connections that result in enhanced long-term experiential recall.


Socialization Gifts

            Social learning is nothing new. Research by Albert Bandura revealed that people can learn from each other through observation, imitation and modeling. This line of thinking holds true today. Communication and collaboration are critical skills that are essential to preparing young people for the world outside the classroom doors. Gifts of games can develop skills that result in students learning how to evaluate alternative perspectives.


Higher Order Thinking Gifts

            Jobs both now and in the future will require students to both think and apply knowledge. Gifts that enhance a student’s ability to demonstrate innovative thinking, applications, products and inventions--regardless of age--will help them perform at the highest levels of thinking. Most importantly, they will build thinking skills essential for future academic and work success.


Gifts of Time

            Probably the most important gift for a child, however, is that of time. In our fast-paced lives, sometimes all of us need a reminder of how important it is that we give our children and other family members the gift of time. One of my leadership philosophies is to “take time for yourself and your family”. Time is such a precious commodity, and by gifting it to children, adults can convey other learning experiences such as face to face conversation. Conversations with our children indicate to them that their points of view are important. However, more importantly, it is also a time in which adults can teach the importance of education to his or her future.


            While there is absolutely nothing wrong with the traditional or latest “toys”, we could consider also looking gifts that have an affect on cognitive development. A combination of hearts, minds and bodies has always contributed to the betterment of our world. Sensory learning, socialization, and higher order thinking gifts are the gifts that keep on giving not only at the holiday season, but throughout life. Please consider these criteria when selecting gifts for children. I think you will see the benefits of this approach!