Monthly Archives: October 2011

Build Your Wild Self

Today’s posting is totally for fun! I don’t know about your first grader or Kindergartner, but where I am, the first graders and Kindergartners are ready for Halloween.  Really ready! Not to mention the weatherman is predicting snow for tomorrow, in Virginia, in October! The children are full of energy and very much out of sorts. I found this fun website from the New York Zoos and Aquarium.  Children can create a ‘wild’ version of themselves by adding animal body parts to a girl or boy cartoon.  Endless fun for a weekend when your child will need to expend lots of energy as they wait for trick or treating on Monday night.  I hope your child enjoys this site.


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Filed under Computer Skills, First Grade, Kindergarten

Skip Counting

I found out in Math class this week that many of our first graders are missing key foundational pieces of math skills. Skills that should have been mastered in Kindergarten and now are missing.  What are they? Skip counting and counting backwards.  A Kindergartner SHOULD be able to successfully do the following skills by the end of Kindergarten:

  • Count backwards from 30
  • Skip count by 2’s to 100
  • Skip count by 5’s to 100
  • Skip count by 10’s to 100

These skills are used daily in math and should be practiced frequently at home as well. Your child should be able to see the pattern of the missing numbers. If your child is in Kindergarten, you have time to ensure that these skills are mastered by the end of Kindergarten.  However, if your child is in first grade, check your child and these skills are not mastered it is time to practice them now!

  • Your first grader should be able to count backwards from 30 AND write the numbers backwards from 30 to 1.
  • Your first grader should be able to look at a sequence of any numbers up to 100 and be able to tell which numbers are missing:
    • 22,  24,  26, _____, _____, _____, 34
    • 55, 60, _____, _____, _____, _____,85
    • 40, 50, _____, _____, ______, _____, 100

Take a moment to check out your child and if there are weak areas….practice.

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Filed under Math

Grades in First Grade

I have been mentioning that we will be conducting parent teacher conferences soon.  Many of my children are the oldest child or only child in their family, making this, the first conference of first grade, an anxious time for the many parents.  What is causing most of the anxiety is the worry about grades.  Our school grades first graders using the following scale.

O = Outstanding = 90 – 100 %

G = Good = 80 – 89 %

S = Satisfactory = 70 – 79%

N= Needs Improvement =  Below 70%

I can tell you that parents do not want any N’s or S’s on their child’s report card.  Why not parents?  This is valuable information.  It will help you to understand not only your child’s strengths in school but his/her weak areas that need work as well.  I feel badly for these young children.  I would not want to be in a new job (for the children their job is first grade) and after 7 short weeks be in an evaluation cycle by a new supervisor.  We don’t stress out adults by assessing their work when they are new on the job, but we do it to children! Hmmm, something is wrong here.  Your children have worked hard to adjust to a new grade, new teacher, new friends, new curriculum, new schedule, for some a new school, etc. and it is OK if they receive some N’s or S’s on their report card.  I will be the first to tell you that this report card from first grade does not go with your child to Middle School, High School, and it definitely won’t be asked for in your child’s college application.  You think I am joking.  I am not.  Parents worry about these grades and all I want to say is don’t worry.  Just take the grades for what they are…information about this moment in your child’s life and how he/she is doing at school.  If you are not happy about your child’s grades, discuss with the teacher how you, the parent, can help the teacher and how you will work together to make your child stronger in his/her weak skill areas.  Sometimes it is just developmental and the grades will change as your child becomes more mature and understands more of the academic and social world around him/her.

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Filed under First Grade, Parent Teacher Conferences

Class Ranking

Parent Teacher conferences are coming soon and first grade parents will want lots of information.  It always amazes me at the amount of first grade parents who want to know where their child stands in the ranking of the class.  Well, first grade teachers do not rank their classes…ever!  The developmental levels of the children fluctuate on a daily basis, and the child who has a handle on writing on Monday, might be behind all of the other children on Friday.  That is just how it is.  Besides, do you parents really want to hear that your child is the lowest achieving child in the class today? What if your child is the highest achieving child in the class today –  tomorrow will bring about different information. Parents, please do not ask where your child falls in the ranking of his/her class.  You will leave the parent teacher conference disappointed because we don’t have that answer.  Instead, ask about your child’s strengths and weaknesses…yes, he/she does have weaknesses.  Find out what you can do at home to strengthen those weaknesses so that your child will continue to mature and develop at an appropriate pace in order to be academically and socially successful and don’t bother asking about class rankings until senior year in high school when rankings do count and a high achiever could be the class valedictorian.  Until then, let your 6 year old be a 6 year old and lighten up on the pressures that you are putting on your child.

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Filed under First Grade, Parent Teacher Conferences

Read To Your Child EVERY DAY!

I came across an article that listed the top 10 ways to improve Reading Skills.  I have attached the link to the site here but I find it very rewarding that the NUMBER ONE way to improve reading skills is to:

Set aside a regular time to read to your child EVERY day!! No excuses, parents, every day!!

Year after year, I have told parents the same thing.  Children learn by example.  Parents, your children MUST see and listen to you reading to them every day.  You are a positive role model for your child’s success with reading.  When they see/hear their parents reading, the children want to become better readers as well.  I believe that I have heard every possible excuse about why a parent cannot read to his/her child.  No time, got home late, child had homework to do, dinner was late, child/or parent is tired…and the list goes on.  The number one excuse that most parents give is ‘my child can already read and they don’t need me anymore’.  Chances are they cannot read as well as you think that they can (but that is a topic for another blog).  Your child needs you at the end of a busy day and you need him/her.  Reading together is a perfect way to relax and enjoy time together before the lights go out and all too soon it will be the start of another busy day.

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Filed under Improving Reading Skills

Parent Teacher Conferences

Parent Teacher Conferences are coming soon to my school.  They will be here at the end of the first 8 weeks of school.  8 weeks! I don’t know too many adults who would like to have an evaluation with their new boss after 8 short weeks yet we do it to small children when their parents and teachers come together to discuss them.  I would prefer to have the conference mid-year, as I will have so much more information to discuss but this is when our school system requires the conference.  Many of the teachers at my school send out a questionnaire for parents to fill out prior to the conference so that we know what issues the parents have on their minds and we can gauge our conference time accordingly. Many times the teachers get so busy talking about Reading Test Scores, class behavior, goals for the second quarter, etc. that we run out of time to answer any questions that the parents might have.  The questionnaire helps us to prepare.

Here are the questions that our parents answer:

  1. How does your child feel about school?
  2. What subject does your child enjoy the most?
  3. What are your feelings about your child’s homework?
  4. What kind of homework assistance do you give?
  5. What schoolwork, if any, has your child expressed concerns about?
  6. What concerns, if any, do you have about your child’s interaction with teachers and or other students?
  7. In what ways, can I help your child?
  8. What other questions would you like to have answered at our conference?

This questionnaire lets my parents know that I want to hear their concerns and am willing to work with them in order for their children to have the most successful year possible. You might see if your child’s school has anything similar and if they don’t you could contact the teacher PRIOR to the scheduled conference and give him/her some topics that you would like to discuss at the conference.

I also have previously written a blog about Kindergarten parent teacher conferences:

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Filed under Parent Teacher Conferences

First Grade Math

Most of you know that I write mostly about Language Arts: reading, comprehension, story retelling, writing, nursery rhymes etc.  That isn’t to say that I don’t think that math is an equally important academic goal in the life of a first grader, it is just that if a child can’t read, then he/she can’t read the math word problems, write down their reasoning in their math journals or read the directions on simple math worksheets.  Now having that, I have found a great onine site for Math.  In the state of Virginia we are required to teach a certain Math curriculum with a set of particular skills that need to be learned in that grade level.  I did find a site where you can find out precisely what you are required to learn in math for your state and grade level and then practice those skills on the same site.  After your child practices a math skill, you will be able to get a breakdown of how your child is progressing.

First, click below and then click on your state:

You will be brought to the page where you can click on your child’s grade to view your state’s standards, find appropriate math skills practice for your child and then track his/her progress. How neat is that!  (The only catch is that your child gets to do about 20 free problems a day and to do more problems you have to be a member for a minimal monthly fee.)

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Filed under Math