Monthly Archives: December 2011


Now that your first grader is almost halfway through first grade, we will be working on a reading skill called Visualizing.  It teaches a child to create pictures in his/her mind when he/she is reading.  Your child will learn to ‘see’ in his mind what he/she is reading in text.  He will learn to ‘feel’ what he/she is reading.  It is just like having an ongoing movie in his/her mind. We are teaching your child what some of the main events in the story would look like if they were happening in real life.  Being able to do this helps your child to better understand what has been read.  Many first graders are still just ‘calling words’ without attaching any meaning to what has been read.  Your child will consciously be using the words to create a picture in his/her mind. On a personal note, I remember when I took 2 of my children to see the movie The Indian in the Cupboard.  They had both read the book and had eagerly awaited the release of the film.  In the first few moments of the movie when the Indian was revealed, both of my children said out loud in the theater “that is NOT what he looks like!”  Visualization skills were at work.  Both children had created a mental picture of what they thought the Indian should look like and both were bitterly disappointed that their own vision was not recognized by Hollywood. Try it with your own child at home.  After he/she has read a chapter, a book or a few pages, ask him/her to draw a picture of what he/she was seeing in his/her mind when reading.  The pictures will be able to show you if your child is grasping what has been read, or needs to pay closer attention to the text.



Filed under Beginning Readers, First Grade, Improving Reading Skills, Language Arts, Reading

Donating Used Toys

Many people reading this blog are the parents of children who have just received enormous amounts of new toys for the holidays.  Before those new toys make their way to bedrooms, playrooms, dens, etc.  now is the time to teach your child about giving away his/her older toys.  Have your child clean out his/her room, find the toys that he/she no longer uses and bag them up for charity.  I am sure that there is a charitable organization, shelter, hospital, or such that would welcome clean used toys to pass along to children in need.  A few simple clicks on your computer can help you find organizations willing to accept your donations…this is what I found in my own area:

Accepting clean stuffed animals:

A site with several options for donating toys:

Teach your child about helping others while he/she is young.  Children need to learn that it is not all about receiving, much joy can be received by giving as well.

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Filed under Parents, Responsibility, Social Skills

Behavior Affects School Progress

There is a direct correlation between a child’s school behavior and his/her ability to listen, learn, stay on task and complete their work. First graders act like first graders.  They should! These young children are only 6 and 7 years old.  What a parent has to remember is that children who know when to stop, look and listen to teachers at school, are also the same children who can complete work without direct teacher guidance.  In most classrooms, the first grade teacher is instructing small groups of children while the remainder of the class is working on their own.  Children working may chit chat a little, but most can easily get themselves back on track to do their work.  In every classroom there are always a few children who just can’t motivate themselves to not only get started but stay on task once they do start.  These children are looking around the room at what others are doing, watching the teacher, staring out the window, cutting their pencils, gluing their fingers, cutting their work  paper, etc.  Something is not right.  Teachers try and tell parents when they notice that their child is struggling with work and behavior, but most times, parents do not want to listen.  They haven’t seen it at home is the usual excuse.  Really? Invite 23 more 6 and 7 year old kids to your house, try to manage all of their behavior and then in the middle of this, watch your child try and stay on task.  Then, and only then would you would be see what we see each and every day at school.  Our interims for this quarter just went home and parents sometimes do not like what they see regarding not only behavior but academic progress as well.  Keep in mind that teachers are not miracle workers and we cannot ‘fix’ children who misbehave.  Take a good hard look at your child’s behavior the next time a behavior note comes home, or the teacher contacts you about your child’s behavior at school.  If a teacher takes the time to write, or have the child write a note, then something needs to be addressed.  Children who misbehave by the minute, hourly or daily eventually fall behind in their school work and mid-December is when you will start hearing that from the classroom teacher.  Do you want your child to fall further and further behind, or are you willing to get to the root of the problem, support your child’s education and talk to additional professionals if need be. Only you can make that decision.

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Filed under Behavior, First Grade, Kindergarten, Parents

Babies and Reading

I was on a plane a few weeks ago and observed a young mother trying desperately to teach her toddler (about 18 months) how to read.  Yes, read! While struggling to keep the small girl in her lap, this young mother was also holding a ‘teach your baby to read’ book.  The girl just wanted to hold the book, throw the book, turn it upside down, chew on the book etc.  The mother wanted the girl to look at the large pictures and then ‘read’ the word next to the picture.  Keep in mind this girl didn’t seem to be saying much of anything, let alone read,  but that mother persevered, while checking those passengers around her to see if they noticed that her daughter was ‘reading’.  Really? What are parents thinking?  This book while not a waste of money given the fact that putting any book in a child’s hands is never a bad thing, trying to get a toddler to ‘read’ the words is a waste of time. Children who are read to from birth will develop a love of books and reading that will occur naturally over time.  I have had readers in Kindergarten, and have had children come to first grade reading.  Most of these children acquired the skill from hours, days, months and years of being read to and having a constant exposure to books.  Parents if you have young children at your house please save the money that expensive ‘teach your baby how to read’ books cost and spend the money on good quality, timeless books that your child will be able to enjoy again and again.  First, by having you read the books to them and then when he/she will learn to read on his/her own and the love of the same books will continue. I have said it before, but it is worth repeating.  No third grade teacher can survey his/her classroom and tell how old each child was when they learned to read.  So parents, stop trying to impress, let reading develop naturally and enjoy quiet times reading with your child, they do disappear all too quickly.

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Filed under Beginning Readers, Language Arts, Parents, Reading