First graders are asked to write all throughout the first grade day, not just during ‘Writing’ time. Children are now writing during Reading, Math, Science and Social Studies in their journals for all of these subjects. It is all of this writing practice that makes them a better writer, or I should say that it should make them better writers. The problem is that 6 and 7 year olds just want to get finished. It doesn’t matter what they are working on, to them, finishing is the end product, not how well did they do the job. This is where the writing problem begins. Encouraging a first grader to write with details is challenging but it can be done. First grade teachers are teaching about writing with details. We do not want the sentence: I have a dog. We would rather see I have a large, brown and white dog that sleeps with me every night. The sentence may seem long, but they can do it. Just listen to a first grader talk. Do they ever stop talking? No! They have the vocabulary needed for longer sentences, just not the interest or stamina. That’s where all of the adults come in. When your child is writing his/her homework, or writing in his/her journal, or writing thank you notes, etc., please encourage your first grader to add details to his/her writing. It makes their writing much more interesting to read when details have been added. You could even give them a highlighter and ask them to highlight the details when they are done. First graders love highlighters! Come on parents, expect more from your child’s writing and you will see that you will start to get it.
Monthly Archives: November 2011
First graders are learning to add. Many of them think that they can add already. Sure they know, 1 + 1 = 2, 2 + 2= 4, etc, but that is about the limit of their knowledge of addition. At school, we add using counting manipulatives, play addition games using counting chips or dice but what it comes down to is memorization. Yes, children should understand the concept of adding, putting two groups together to find out how many in all, but counters may not always be available. Here is a link to addition flash cards that you can print out for your child to practice each and every day at home until these addition facts become second nature. At first the cards may seem difficult, but your child can sort them into two groups, the group that he/she is able to correctly add, and those that he/she cannot. Your child should concentrate on the group that he is struggling with until that group is also able to be mastered. Your first graders should be able to add successfully, perhaps he/she just needs a little practice.
First graders do a lot of paperwork every day. Teachers are trying very hard to do away with busy work papers and only give a paper as an assignment as a follow up to an activity or learning center. We are working on eliminating paperwork, but nonetheless, at the end of the day, your child has completed lots of papers at school. I found this site that allows your child to get away from paperwork and explore his/her creativity by way of creating a unique musical sound. This site that allows your child to create music! It is fun and all they have to do is click on a grid and a musical note is heard. Your child continues to click on squares and the musical notes repeat themselves always adding the new note. Your child will be entertained for quite some time while he/she continues to explore different ways to create a song. Check this out with your child and you will see how much fun he/she can have with music.
Responsibility. That word is one of my favorite first grade words. We work on responsible behavior every day in first grade, but we have a long way to go. Responsibility usually comes up when a mom/dad cannot decide if he/she is responsible for something or the child is…so parents usually just do it. For example:
- Whose job is it to see that the homework notebook is returned to school on time?
- Whose job is it to return library books on time?
- Whose job is it to remember to unpack your backpack both at home and when you return to school?
Most of my first graders think it is their mom or dad’s job to return homework to school when it is due or to return library books on time. The excuse when something is missing is always, “my mom/dad didn’t pack it for me”, “my mom/dad forgot to give it to me”. Not one first grader will own up to the fact that it is he/she that is in first grade, and that he/she, not mom or dad forgot the assignment. You can bet that the first graders who are doing the forgetting are not happy when everyone else is getting stickers for bringing in homework, or checking out new library books when books have been returned. Parents, your child is in first grade, not you. This responsibility of getting things home from school and back again should have begun in Kindergarten or earlier, but for many it isn’t even starting now. What is going on? Do you want to do everything for your child all through their school years? That is what you are setting your child and yourself up for if you continue to be responsible for homework, library books, notes for changes in dismissal etc. It is your child’s job to remember to bring these items from home AND to remember to unpack his/her backpack when asked to do so in order to be prepared for the day. At my school, first graders are assigned homework for the week on Monday and I stand there and tell the children exactly when to put their homework notebooks in their backpacks ….and yet there are still children every week who forget to bring home their homework. Why? It is not important to them, they are not responsibly mature enough to realize the importance of the homework and ultimately they know that mom/dad will come looking for it the next day. Parents, help your child mature. Encourage him/her to be more responsible, not only for homework, library books, notes for the teachers, etc, but to be responsible for choices made with behavior at school. Now that is a blog for another day.