Monthly Archives: September 2012

Look In Your Child’s Backpack

The new school year has begun and your child is carrying his/her backpack to and from school each and every day.  Teachers expect your child to check his/her  backpack upon arriving at school to look for important papers for the teacher, notes, snacks, or any other items that parents have sent to school.  Children are taught to open their backpacks every day and look for these items and remove them before putting the backpack away.  Teachers wish that parents had the same plan in place for when your child and the backpack arrive back home.  When your child has worked hard on a paper or a project at school and brings it home, it would be wonderful to review this work with your child on the day that it comes home while the work is still fresh in your child’s memory.  I can’t tell you how many children carry the same papers back and forth to school every day and continue to add to these papers each day.  Parents should be able to find a few minutes in your day to talk to your child about his/her day and check the backpack.  More teachers are using email to correspond with parents so thankfully we are not waiting for a note to be read in the paper mess in the backpack, but, please what about your child’s work, or notes from the school office or PTO/PTA.  If you do not have a daily routine that involves, the backpack and your child…start one now so that your child knows that you value his/her efforts and work done at school.

Re-posted from 2009


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Filed under First Grade

Time Out Table In School

Blog  51 Time Out Table in Kindergarten

You might wonder about the number one question that parents ask Kindergarten and First Grade teachers at the start of the school year.  It is not about Academics, Assessments, Daily Schedules, Curriculum, Seating Arrangements, etc.  Oh,no. The number one question is about discipline.  How do we handle children when they misbehave in our classroom?  This leads me to believe that most parents know that their children misbehave, and believe me some misbehave more than others.  Parents just want to be sure that they are OK with how we handle their rule breaking 5 year olds.  I have a time out table in my room (located  about 4 feet from all of the action) and I explain to parents at Back to School night that it gets heavy use during the month of September as we lay down the class rules and expect the children to follow them.  By October, it is hardly used at all, as children settle into the routine and have learned to follow the rules and regulations of our classroom.  But, it still sits there waiting, just in case it is needed. This is the way it is used in my classroom and you could use a table, chair or quiet spot at home to achieve the same goal.  When a child misbehaves, in this example talks to a friend during story time, this is what happens:

  • I tell the child he/she is interrupting my story by talking to his/her friend.  I say that they can either listen to the story quietly, or talk, but if they choose to talk, they have to go to the time out table.
  • Always, the child will say “I will listen to the story quietly” and the within moments, ‘chooses’ to talk again.  At this point I will say, ‘you have chosen to talk and we said that if you talk again you would have to go to the time out table so you need to go to the time out table now’
  • This interchange is not always met with favorable results and I will then say, you can walk to the time out table or you can choose to have me hold your hand and walk you there.
  • Most children then decide walking the 4 feet to the time out table is the better choice rather than being led by the teacher.
  • I will continue to read the story and when done I will go and talk to the child at the time out table.
  • I will ask, “What were you doing that go you sent to the time out table?”  Ultimately I am looking for the response that begins with the words “I WAS……” In this case “I was talking during the story”
    • Notice I did not start my question with the word “why”.  The word why is very open ended and does not always need a factual answer and 5 year olds know that.  Be sure and start your question with What…you will get a more factual answer.
    • I will now say, yes you were talking during the story but the next time you will listen quietly to our story and then that is the end of our talk
    • When a child is able to accept responsibility for what he/she has done wrong, he/she is well on the road to improving that behavior
    • When a child says that the reason he/she is at the time out table is because I put them there, we have to review again what took place prior to being removed from the class group and I will remind the child that he/she had a choice to go or not go to the time out table and they chose ‘to go.’ This child needs a few more minutes to think and then I will repeat the question, “why are you at the time out table/?” and hopefully the answer will begin with “I was”

Most children only need one or two visits to the time out table to know I mean what I say, but there is usually a few that will test awhile longer.  Please parents, under no circumstance should you use the “I will give you to the count of three to …….(fill in the blank here with what you want your child to do) You have only taught them that you don’t really mean it on the first try and that they have some more time for stalling.  If you use, 1,2,3, please stop now.

Re-posted from 2009

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Filed under Behavior, First Grade, Kindergarten, Parents, Responsibility

Every Letter Every Day

In Kindergarten we teach and then review every one of the 26 alphabet letters every day.  We say every letter, every day. Some philosophies on teaching the letters and sounds revolve around learning a letter a week.  However, if you don’t learn the letter M,m until after January it makes it difficult to begin to write words with all sounds if you haven’t been taught all of the letter sounds.  We ask parents to review all 26 letters and sounds at least once a day at home with their child.  All you need for this method is a pack of alphabet letter flash cards.  We keep our letter flash cards in order for the first nine weeks of school, so the review would go like this, Letter name, then name of picture that begins with that letter, and finally the alphabet sound itself.

A, apple, a, b, boy, b.

Children will learn their letters and sounds when they are developmentally ready.  No amount of drilling from the parents or teachers will make it happen before its time, but the key is to your child being ready for reading and writing, is for us to provide the foundations that are needed.  Even if your child knows all of the letters by looking at them and naming them, learning the letter sounds and then being able to use the sounds in phonetic writing is the next stage of development.  It all starts with 26 little letters.  Start working with your child now to reinforce what is being taught in Kindergarten; all you need are 26 alphabet letter flash cards.


Re-posted from 2009

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Filed under Alphabet, Beginning Readers, Improving Reading Skills, Kindergarten, Language Arts, Reading, Writing

Self Help Skills

Is your child in Kindergarten or First Grade?  Learning to take care of yourself while at school is a big step in the life of a Kindergartner or First Grader.  Many children are coming from homes where Mom and Dad have done almost everything for them.  Please don’t do things for children that they can do for themselves! It is time to encourage your child to do more things on his/her own.

  • Practice tying shoes at home (don’t cheat and buy Velcro) really practice tying shoes
  • Teach your child how to take off and put on his/her jacket.  This means learning to pull sleeves inside out after the jacket has been taken off too quickly.
  • Practice buttoning or zipping jackets/coats.  This is hard for little fingers.
  • Practice opening and closing snack container that will be used at school.
  • Using the toilet, cleaning themselves and washing hands properly after each bathroom use
  • Don’t forget to write your child’s name in the collar of all clothing that comes to school.  Many parents buy new school clothing for their children and the children are not familiar with the clothing and cannot recognize it when it is left behind in the classroom.  Label the clothes!
  • Practice opening and closing the backpack that will be used for school.
  • Parents you are not doing your child any favors by ‘babying’ them and doing things that he/she is old enough to learn to do for himself/herself.

Re-posted from 2009

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Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten, Maturity, Parents

Songs All Children Should Know

Music and songs.  Music surrounds us everywhere we go.  Where would we all be without music in our lives?  Well, children are no different.  As convenient as it may be to allow young children to listen to songs that you have on your car radio, MP3 player, iPod, or iPhone, remember that children are children and love children’s music.  There are so many songs that all children should know.  They have catchy tunes, they are funny and they are quick and easy to learn.  Check out this website for a list of songs that all children (and parents) should know.  Hopefully you and your child already know and love many of these songs, but if you don’t, start downloading and begin singing now! Better yet, download some of these songs on your iPod and sing to your heart’s content the next time you and your child are in a car together.

Re-posted from 2009


Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten, Parents

Screen Time

When your child arrives in school, the classroom is full of opportunities to socialize with his/her peers.  The ability to play and interact with others is a challenge for our children who have grown up in a TV/video game/computer screen world.  They know how to interact with the video games and computer programs just fine, but put them with another child and expect them to play and get along; it’s not such an easy task. Each year the Kindergartners and First Graders are coming to school with more and more knowledge of technology and less and less knowledge of social skills.  Something has to give. Experts recommend very little ‘screen time’ for five and six year olds, with screen time being any time during the day that your child is sitting in front of a TV, video game, or computer screen.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids under 2 years old not watch any TV and that those older than 2 watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming.

If your child has a TV in his/her room, remove it immediately!  Encourage more interaction with family members and friends then playing and being social at school will be an easier task.

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

Interrupting Does Not Work At School

Young children live in a universe where all revolves around them. When they want you, they want you…now! Interrupting comes with the territory. Many children are taught to politely say excuse me, but then without waiting, go right ahead and start talking just the same. Kindergarten and First Grade teachers  usually spend the month of September teaching children that there are many ways to get our attention and being slapped on the thigh is not one of them. Don’t laugh, at least half of the incoming Kindergartners AND First Graders, try slapping, tapping, poking, pushing the teacher to get his/her attention. We teach children that there are many other children in the class wanting and waiting to also talk to us so they must learn to wait. It would be helpful if at home you practiced having your child wait to talk to you when you are talking with another person or family member. In school, children are taught to raise their hands and not yell out, but children are expecting an instant response to their question or need and have to learn to wait. Learning to wait takes patience and a little maturity but we work on it every day. Please help your child’s teacher by working on this skill as well at home.

Reposted from 2009


Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten, Parents, Social Skills