All school-aged children are now back in school and are happy to be back into their school routine. Many parents were counting down the minutes until the school bus arrived on the first day of school and were also happy or happier (?) to see the start of another school year. Please remember that when your child comes back home at the end of a school day that he/she has much to share with you so please be ready to listen. By that I mean, put down your iPhone, your iPad or get off of your computer and really listen. Look at your child and give all of your attention to him/her. You will be sending your child the message that you are really interested in what has happened to him/her in the 7-9 hours since you last saw each other. Ask your child specific questions, listen to the answers. Please don’t ask, ‘how was your day?’ or you will get ‘fine’ as an answer. Sit with your child, share an after school snack and ask specific questions such as:
- Who did you eat lunch with?
- What specials did you have today?
- What story did your teacher read to you today?
- What were you working on in math today?
- Did you read with the teacher today?
- What were you writing about in your journal today?
You will get much more information about your child’s day when you ask specific questions and your child will be happy to share information about his/her day. Do this everyday and if you don’t see your child immediately after school, talk about his/her day while you prepare dinner or while the family eats dinner together. These are the days that will be making memories for your child about his/her childhood…..help make the memories special by sharing time and talking with your child.
Children should be read to every day at home, no exceptions, no excuses! Children are read to at school every day, but nothing can take the place of mom or dad reading a story every night… especially right before bedtime. When I was teaching first grade, along with the daily reading instruction that was taking place in my classroom, I was required to give a standardized reading test individually to each and every child twice a year. One of the first questions that I was required to ask during the reading test was “Who reads with you at home”. A few children always said ‘no one’ but the remaining children always answered immediately with “mom”. Not once in all of the times that I gave this test (we’re talking hundreds of test sessions) did a child every say ‘dad’. Dads, where are you when your child is being read to, or reading outloud at night? Your child needs YOU, or an uncle, or a grandfather who is available every day to read to your child. Dad, your child needs to see that you value books, the ability to read and enjoy them, and the process in which your child will become a lifelong reader. Dads, think about the message that you are sending your child when you are not involved at all in the reading process. You may not realize it but the message that your child is receiving is that you do not put any value or importance on reading and the ability to learn to read. Think about it. Is this really the message that you want to send your very impressionable young child? I don’t think so. Start tonight… Start a new evening tradition, grab a book, a comfy reading spot (chair or bed) and surprise your child with the wonder of a story read by dad. You will be happy after the story and I guarantee that your child will even be happier than you will be.
Heading back to school in the fall after enjoying a relaxing summer vacation is a stressful time for most young children. It is even more stressful when a child is heading off to school for the first time. For many children this happens when Kindergarten starts. As a Kindergarten teacher for many years, I can tell you that a day in the life of a Kindergartner is challenging for a 5 year old. He/she must be able to play, have fun, listen to a new teacher, talk only sometimes, follow classroom rules and directions and always try to do his/her best. This makes for a very tiring day for a young child. When a Kindergartner comes home he/she is usually exhausted and this daily exhaustion will last until your child becomes familiar with his/her new daily routine and all that is expected of him/her at school. (Usually sometime in November is when the adjustment is complete.)
Many parents are in a hurry to sign their children up for as many extracurricular activities as possible once the school year begins, but if you want your child to get as much from the extracurricular activities as possible, you would be wise to wait until after the first of the year to enroll your child in activities other than school. Young children have worked very hard during their school day doing all that has been asked of them by their teacher. School is a very structured environment and when your child comes home, he/she NEEDS to have time to play in a non-structured environment. He/she needs some down time in order to practice making decisions on his own (what to play with for example?) and would benefit from having time set aside each day for free play at home. Parents, help your child adjust to his/her school environment and when your child comes home, please, no extra activities, just time for playing anything that your child chooses. You will all benefit from the lack of extra activities, especially during the first few months of school.
Here is an interesting article on busy children:
Thanks to all of the snow this past winter, we won’t be finishing school for another 2 ½ weeks, but I know that in many other schools Kindergartners are preparing to end their school year. Teachers are just as excited about the upcoming vacation as the children are, but vacations worry us as well. We know that many/most of our children will lose a great deal of their acquired skills from Kindergarten during the summer vacation and what concerns us even more, is that it doesn’t have to be that way. No teacher would expect your child to continue doing school work for hours each day, but we do ask/expect/recommend that your child spend some time each day working on school work. The best way to do this is to establish a time at your house that works for both parent and child. It could be first thing in the morning when your child is the freshest, or after lunch when he/she needs a break from outdoor activities, or even in the evening after dinner. Set a time for your child, say 20 – 30 minutes, and stick to this time every day. Children love routines and your child will do best when he/she knows that every day will include this time for school work. Many parents like to spend summer by teaching the academics that will be taught in first grade in the fall, but that is not necessary. Simply put:
- Your child needs to write in a journal every day of the summer, no exceptions!
- Your child needs to be read to and also have a chance to explore books on his/her own every day of the summer, no exceptions!
- Your child needs to work with numbers and number concepts (card games, board games) every day of the summer, no exceptions!
Reading readiness skills such as letter recognition, sound-letter knowledge, story re-telling and understanding the concept of print have been worked on every day of your child’s Kindergarten year, but these skills disappear quickly when left untouched. Number recognition to 30 but to 100 would be better, patterns, and simple addition and subtraction should also be reviewed. You will be helping your child to be successful in first grade if you help him/her now not to lose any of the crucial skills that he/she will need when he/she gets there.
Kindergarten children have learned how to properly take care of a book, especially a book from the library. They know to keep the book clean, to use a bookmark and not turn over the corner of the page and they know to keep the book away from younger brothers and sisters. We are also teaching the terms, cover, back, spine, title, and in chapter books, table of contents. When you talk to your child about books, please use the correct terminology for parts of the book so that your child will begin to incorporate these words into their everyday vocabulary.
In Kindergarten and first grade the children learn a great deal of math just by doing calendar activities and counting the number of days that we have been in school. They learn what the date is, the terms today, tomorrow, yesterday, explore patterns, count forward from 1-100, backwards from 20-1, and count by 5’s and 10’s to 100. Now we have introduced calendar math which is a worksheet that the children must complete on their own using information from the calendar. They must write today’s date and year, tell what today, yesterday and tomorrow are, decide if today’s date is an even or odd day, write today’s date in tally marks and then tell today’s weather. The children love this activity because they get to use a clipboard and feel grown up and they also enjoy thinking and figuring out all of the answers. Take the calendar at your house and check to see if your child can tell you or show you:
- Today’s date
- The name of today
- The name of yesterday
- The name of tomorrow
- If today’s date is an even or odd number
- Today’s date using tally marks
While you are checking, ask your child to count to 100 by 5’s (needed for counting those tally marks) count to 100 by 10’s and then count backwards from 20-1. Your Kindergarten child who is almost a first grader SHOULD be able to do it all and if he/she can’t, it’s time to start practicing these skills before he/she gets to first grade. Once in first grade he/she will be expected to write down this information in a calendar math journal that is used every day.
This is the time of the year in Kindergarten when we introduce sight words. Sight words are the most frequently used words in the English language. They appear so frequently in text that they just need to be memorized. Your child’s confidence and reading ability will improve when he/she knows these words.The important thing to stress with your child is that some words can be sounded out, and some cannot. Sight words cannot and should not be sounded out. Here is a list of sight words that your Kindergartner should start learning (memorizing) now:
High Frequency of Appearance while reading:
Medium Frequency of Appearance while reading:
Here is a website that has some great sight word activities that include:
- Free flash cards of sight words
- List of all sight words
- Games using sight words