This is the time of the year when Kindergartners and First Grade really take off with their writing. They have been learning and developing the skills needed for writing for 6 months and they are now ready to use them. Teachers really enjoy this time of the year. It is when most children start to consistently and independently use the skills that they have been taught this year. We see it in the classroom, children are writing letters to each other, to teachers, writing books and writing every chance they get. One way to keep this enthusiasm alive at home is to encourage your child to keep a journal at home. Not only does this help them to keep their writing and thinking skills sharp, the journal will act as a time capsule of this particular time in their lives. All that your child needs is a notebook, a pencil and a quiet working space. He/she should be writing every day for enjoyment having nothing to do with any homework assignments. The more they write, the more they will enjoy writing. When you take a long car drive, bring the journal, when you go away for the weekend, bring the journal. Definitely when you go away for an extended period of time, bring the journal. Writing in the journal at the end of a day can help your child recap his/her day and they could another dimension to the journal by adding illustrations. Please get your child a blank notebook and watch the journal fill up with all of your child’s wonderful thoughts and memories.
If your child is unsure as to how to begin, here is a list of prompts that will get the creativity flowing:
Our school, along with thousands of other schools across America has been celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday week by reading many of his famous books. The children love the books and can’t stop listening to the non-sensical way that Dr. Seuss had with words. One activity that my class did during the week was to color a glyph of Dr. Seuss’ cat in the hat. A glyph is a type of reading activity where the child reads a sentence (i.e, if you are a girl, color the tie orange, if you are a boy, color the tie purple, etc.) and then completes a task on the paper depending up the answer to a question. Not sure what a glyph is, here is a sample:
On my glyph it said, if you like Dr. Seuss books, color the Cat in the Hat’s hat red and white, if you do not like Dr. Seuss books, color the hat black and blue. Naturally, I expected all of the hats to be red and white and was a little surprised when one girl colored it black and blue. I called her over to ask her about it, and she said ‘oh, I used to like him when I was little, but now I prefer chapter books!” What? When I was little? This all saddened me very much. This girl is 6 years old, that’s still little for me. So many first graders think that they are older, more grown up and a real reader if they read only chapter books. Keep in mind that these same children may not be able to retell the sequence of the chapter book, may not be able to name the main characters, and may not be able to tell you the main idea of any of the chapters of the book, but to them and their parents, they are ‘reading.’ Parents, please take the time to read some, or all of Dr. Seuss’ books to your child. Here is a complete list of all of his books. Check it out.
They are too good to pass up and you will enjoy reading them as much, if not more than your child. Please don’t have it be your child that enters a first grade classroom and proudly announces that they are too old for Dr. Seuss. Sad, sad, sad!
“It turns out that all that time spent playing make-believe actually helped children develop a critical cognitive skill called executive function. Executive function has a number of different elements, but a central one is that ability to self-regulate. Kids with good self-regulation are able to control their emotions and behaviors, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline.” (Excerpt from: Old-Fashioned Play Builds serious Skills written by: Alix Spiegel
My daughter, who lives several time zones away from me, sent me an article to read because she knows how passionate I am about young children, their development and the NECESSITY of free and imaginative play to develop children’s critical thinking skills. It is a very sad statement about today’s children that too many of them are not allowed to, or do not even know how to ‘just play.’ What I mean is: No toys, no coaches, no promise of a trophy, no fancy uniforms, no parents, no instructions, just be creative and play. Teachers watch on the playground as children try to be imaginative in their play, but often the children just want to come and talk to the teacher supervising the playground, because in reality, the child does not know what to do. How very, very sad! I understand how society has changed and perhaps you don’t feel that your neighborhood is a safe environment for your child. Well, he/she can practice ‘playing’ inside as well. No TV, video games, i-phones, i-pads, computers, toys, games, … just imaginative and creative play. Try it with your child and see just how hard it really is for them. It shouldn’t be, but it is. Teachers are well aware of how hard it is for your child, but you need to see it first hand for yourself. Please read this very informative article about the absolute need for children’s imaginative lay. Then please take a moment to make a comment about what you have read. I am really curious about how parents will react to the article.