Category Archives: Social Skills

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

Retention is Refused

I would just like to say a few sentences to all parents who have forced their child to go to the next grade level when he/she wasn’t at all ready or well prepared. I mostly am talking about Kindergarten retention and moving on to first grade when you shouldn’t, but what I have to say goes for any early elementary grade level. When an elementary school teacher recommends retention there are usually many, many reasons that she/he has said given that advice.  Among the most frequent reasons are:

  • Developmentally not ready
  • Academically not ready
  • Emotionally not ready

I have recommended retention for many children through the years and more often than not, the parents refuse.  When your child is not ready for the next school year, he/she walks into the new classroom already behind.  Yes, I know that some children pick up skills over the summer months, but let me tell you, so do the children who grasped all of the skills the previous school year.  Your child will give up before he/she even begins because the feeling of not knowing what is going on is overwhelming.  I see this every year! I always try to talk to these parents to see if I can understand the reason behind their decision to send their ill prepared child to the next grade, but there is never a concrete answer.  Then, what I usually say to the parents is to be prepared for 12 long school years ahead while their child tries to catch up with his/her peers, but more often than not, is unable to do so.

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Filed under Behavior, First Grade, Kindergarten, Maturity, Parents, Social Skills

Playing Cards

Playing cards can be a great deal of fun for young children.  Many reasoning, mathematical and social interaction skills can be developed and reinforced by playing cards.  Simply buy a deck of playing cards (the kind adults use to play cards) and teach your child a few simple games.

  1. He/she can sort the cards, by color, by shape or by number
  2. He/she can play fish.  The object of the game is to collect matches of cards and collect more cards than the other player.  Deal out 7 cards to each person and then hold the cards in your hands.  The players take turns asking each other for a card that might match a card in his/her hand.  If the opposite player has a match for the card the child who asked for it, takes the card and now has a match.  When this happens he/she may ask for another card.  When a child asks and the opponent does not have a match, the opponent says “go fish.”  (which means take a card from the pile of cards that have not been used yet) If the card taken from the ‘go fish’ pile is a match, the person continues to draw another card, but if the card is not a match, the opponent now takes a turn asking.  The process then repeats itself.  When a player runs out of cards he/she may take 3 more from the ‘go fish’ pile.  When the pile is completely gone the game continues until all matches in the hands are matched.  The person with the most matches wins.
  3. War, or Challenge, whichever you prefer to call it.  Deal out the entire deck evenly between 2 players.  Each person keeps their stack of cards face down in a pile and then together both players flip over one card, the person with the highest card showing wins both cards.  If the cards match, then the players count out 2 cards facing down and turn over the 3rd card.  The person with the highest cards gets all of the cards on the table.  This game usually goes on and on and on and ends when one person just tires out.
  4. Playing cards is a good time for your child to practice social etiquette skills and learn to take turns and to be a good player and a good sport about winning or losing.
  5. Get out that deck of cards and see what fun you and your child can have tonite.
  6. Find more card games here:

Re-Posted from August 2009


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

How Was Your Day?

How Was Your Day

When your child comes home from school please take some time and have a conversation with him/her about how the day went.  When you ask “How was your day?” don’t accept a one word answer like fine or OK. Really?  Your child has been out of your sight for 7 or more hours and you are willing to accept a one word answer telling you about all 7 of those hours.  In the classroom, I try to take some time at the end of each day and talk with the class about all that we have done that day.  It refreshes what the child has experienced during the day and makes for an easier conversation with Mom or Dad when the child gets home.  You could also ask specific questions such as:

  1.  Who did you sit next to?
  2. Did your teacher read you any books today?
  3. What is in your desk at school?
  4. What rules of the room did you follow today?
  5. What rules of the cafeteria did you follow today?
  6. What did you do in math today? (or Reading, Writing, Spelling, Science, Social Studies)
  7. How was your lunch? Your snack? What would you like to bring tomorrow for lunch/snack?
  8. Did you go to any other teachers’ classrooms today?  Art? Music? PE? Library?
  9. How was recess?

You get the idea.  Help your child to think about his/her day and have a DAILY conversation with your child about what is going on at school. Your child will get the message that you value what he/she has been doing during the school day and will be motivated to do even better when he/she returns to school the next day.




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

My Child Is Shy

Each year I meet a new group of children that will be in my classroom for the entire school year.  I meet these children usually at School Open House which takes place a few days before school actually begins. I love meeting the children with whom I will spend so much time with this year.  I love meeting parents and talking to them about their children.  What all teachers do not like, is when a parent says “My child is shy” in front of that very child.  Beginning of the year jitters are common, even for teachers if you can believe it.  Jitters aside, when children are hiding behind parents legs, won’t talk to the teacher when spoken to, the LAST thing a teacher wants to hear from the parent is “My child is shy.” When your child hears you say this time after time after time, he/she will begin to feel that being ‘shy’ is exactly the way you want him/her to behave.  Praise your child in public, especially when meeting a new person, such as a new teacher. Talk about what a wonderful year he/she had in other school situations.  Talk about something your child is good at, like a sport, or singing or drawing.  If you have just moved talk about something special from your last school or home.  The more you draw attention to positive things about your child, your child will begin to expect that you are going to say something nice about him/her when you meet other adults and your child will be ready and listening.  In time, the ‘shyness’ will go away, but it will take a much longer time to happen if your child is always hearing about how ‘shy’ he/she is.  If you think that your child really does need practice in new social situations, join a sports team, make some playdates with new friends from school, take lessons from another adult where you won’t be able to stay and answer for them when the instructor is talking to them. No one can answer for your child in school.  Think about that parents!


Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten, Maturity, Parents, Responsibility, Social Skills

Parents are Child’s Primary Teachers

Your child will encounter many teachers in his/her lifetime. Not only will there be teachers in the classroom, but there will be just as many outside of the classroom.  He/she will have teachers in sports, after school activities, music lessons, girl/boy scouts etc.  Your child will have to listen and learn from many adults but the most important teacher for your child is YOU! Yes, you! Your child’s learning is ongoing and he/she will be learning many new activities throughout his/her day, but he/she will depend upon you to help keep the learning going when he/she gets home. How to do this? During dinnertime conversation, or at bedtime:

  • Ask your child to tell you about his/her day
  • Ask your child to tell you about one new thing that he/she learned that day
  • Find ways to extend what your child is learning about school
  • If he/she is learning about a new artist in Art class, visit a local art museum
  • Play board games that reinforce math skills that are being taught
  • When your child is learning about animals, visit a local zoo or animal habitat where your child can see and learn first hand
  • When your child is learning about an important person in history, find out where local museums, or local neighborhoods are celebrating the life of that person…and then go there
  • Take your child to the local library to check out books to explore the topic
  • Look online for games, activities, lessons, videos that will reinforce what is being taught in the classroom

Remember parents, your child and your child’s teachers will be expecting your help in your child’s learning process. Please don’t let them down!

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Filed under First Grade, Improving Reading Skills, Kindergarten, Language Arts, Library, Math, Parents, Reading, Science, Social Skills, Writing