Monthly Archives: November 2011

Writing With Details

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.


Filed under First Grade, Homework, Language Arts, Writing

Addition Facts

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.

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Filed under First Grade, Math

Tips From The Teacher

I completed my parent conference this week and not only did I do a lot of listening but I also did a lot of talking!  Teachers often are full of suggestions for parents to try out at home with their child. Usually these suggestions are coming from years and years of teaching experience and we want to share the knowledge of children that we have picked up along the way.   Parents, if your child’s teacher gives you any suggestions regarding your child’s:

  • Behavior
  • Academics
  • Social skills
  • Responsibility
  • Maturity Level…or anything else, LISTEN! .. PLEASE! The teacher is not speaking to hear herself/himself talk.  We often think that parents think that is exactly what we are doing. Your child’s teacher is trying to give you some ideas on ways for your child to make improvements and be more successful at school.  This week I heard from one of my parents after the parent conference.  These parents told me that they HAD listened to me at the conference and were taking my suggestions to heart. What? Was I hearing correctly?  Parents don’t usually tell us that they are trying out some of the suggestions that we have made.  These parents obviously love their child and want the best for him/her and they were willing to not only listen to me, but try out some of my suggestions as well. Will my suggestions be magic pills and fix everything? Of course not, but opening up the lines of communication between school and home is magical to say the least.  Raising a child is a lifelong process but your child’s teacher has a key role in this process.  Listen to and try out any advice that has been given and both you and your child will be happier for it.

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Filed under Behavior, First Grade, Kindergarten, Maturity, Parent Teacher Conferences, Parents, Social Skills


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.

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Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten, Parents


I have just finished all of my parent teacher conferences.  One topic that kept coming up was playdates.  Unless your first grade child is a twin, then he/she does not have a built in playmate.  You may think that having a younger/older sibling, cousin, neighbor, babysitter, etc. is enough of a friend to play with for your child, but it is not.  Your child is growing and maturing and developing friendships here at school. He/she wants to play with his/her classmates but does not have much of an opportunity to do that during the school day.  I realize that these children are kept quite busy by their parents with all of their extracurricular activities that take them from one end of the week to the other.  Your child needs time to explore friendships with someone his/her exact age, learn to share his/her toys and home with a friend and practice the social skills needed to be a friend.  Your child needs you to help set up an occasional playdate with a classmate.  This might involve having the friend come home on the bus for an hour after school, or you could try Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon to set up an hour or two for your child to play.  He/she needs it, learns from the experience and uses the knowledge gained from the playdate to further develop the art of making and keeping friends. Children do not automatically know how to make friends and they do need a little guidance from us. They should be provided to opportunity to practice being a friend as often as possible and you will be amazed at how your child’s social skills will develop with your assistance.

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Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten, Parents, Playdates, Social Skills


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:

  1. Whose job is it to see that the homework notebook is returned to school on time?
  2. Whose job is it to return library books on time?
  3. 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.

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Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten, Maturity, Responsibility