Tag Archives: Kindergarten

Limit Extracurricular Activities While Adjusting To Kindergarten

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:




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Reading Oath

This week we are celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday at my school.  In today’s homework packet the children received a reading oath.  They are being asked to turn off the TV/ or turn off the video games one day this week and read!! Then child and parent sign the oath to say that it was accomplished.  I am the child of a children’s librarian so being asked to read when I was growing up was never an issue at our house.  We were surrounded by books and loved reading every free minute we had.  It makes me sad that as teachers we have to assign reading as part of homework.  Most of my first graders would not read for pleasure if it was not part of their homework.  When I read the oath today and told them that they were being asked to turn off the TV/or video games for one day this week, there was a loud collective groan from my class.  If I had my way there would be no TV or video games or computers at all during the school week.  Really!! Parents, fill your home with books (books on ipads or computers count as long as there is reading going on and nothing else) so your child is able to grab a book to read whenever he/she wants to read.  Only you can see that your child gets the love of reading at a very young age and when that happens, he/she will love reading for life.


Filed under Beginning Readers, First Grade, Improving Reading Skills, Kindergarten, Parents, Reading

20 Questions to Ask Your Child At Bedtime

When I was a young mother, I really looked forward to the time of the day when all of the  hustle and bustle had ended, homework was done and baths and teeth were finished.  Story time.  Our children looked forward to this special time each evening as much as we did.  It was a time to think about our day, plan for tomorrow and ALWAYS listen to a story or two.  My niece, who is now a young mother herself, came across this website that listed 20 questions that you should ask your child at bedtime.  It is a wonderful way to connect with your child and see what he/she has been thinking about.  Take a look and go ahead start asking your child these questions and look forward to the delightful conversations that will follow.


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Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten, Open Ended Questions, Parents

15 Minute Reading Activities

Fifteen-Minute Reading Activities

by the National PTA

Make 15 minutes go a long way. Try these quick reading activities with your younger kids.

1. License to read. On car trips, make it a game to point out and read license plates, billboards, and interesting road signs.

2. Better than TVSwap evening TV for a good action story or tale of adventure.

3. Look and listen. Too tired to read aloud? Listen to a book on CD and turn the book’s pages with your children. You also can find books on your ipad.  You’ll still be reading with them!

4. Labels, labels, labels. Label things in your children’s room as they learn to name them. Have fun while they learn that written words are connected to everyday things.

5. Pack a snack, pack a book. Going someplace where there might be a long wait? Bring along a snack and a bag of favorite books.

6. Recipe for reading. The next time you cook with your children, read the recipe with them. Step-by-step instructions, ingredients, and measurements are all part of words in print!

7. Shop and read. Notice and read signs and labels in the supermarket. Back home, putting away groceries is another great time for reading labels.

8. Your long-distance lap. Away on a business trip? Take a few books with you, call home, and have your child curl up by the computer/ipad/phone for a good night story.

9. A reading pocket. Slip fun things to read into your pocket to bring home: a comic strip from the paper, a greeting card, or even a fortune cookie from lunch. Create a special, shared moment your child can look forward to every day.

10. A little longer? When your child asks to stay up a little longer, say yes and make it a 15-minute family readingopportunity.


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Filed under Beginning Readers, First Grade, Improving Reading Skills, Kindergarten, Reading

Conferences The Last Few Weeks of School? Really?

There are 21 days left of first grade.  This means that we have been in school for 158 days!! Wow! My 4th quarter interims went home last week and I will soon begin working on the final report card of first grade.  So what happened this week after the interims went home…several requests for conferences came in! What? With 21 days left of school.  The biggest concern of many parents is the grades that their children are receiving.  Personally, I wish that I did not have to give grades to first graders, but I do.  Parents on the other hand love the grades, and expect perfection from their 6 and 7 year olds.  When a child is not getting top grade, parents want to know why…. Reading always seems to be the one subject area that parents are looking for a higher grade than what their child takes home.

Every week in my newsletter I ask parents to listen to their child read aloud each and every day.  Many parents don’t think that I mean them. I have many reasons for this request:

  1.  The children read aloud to me when we are in small reading groups AND when they sit with me to take a Reading test.
  2. Young readers, who read exclusively to themselves, develop bad habits and they don’t disappear during a reading test. These bad habits include but are not limited to: the omission of words, or entire sentences, the lack of attention to punctuation, misreading a word and missing the meaning of the sentence, not paying attention to plurals and the list goes on.
  3. Parents need to hear the story that is being read by their child so that they (the parents) can ask comprehension questions AND ask their child to retell the story using as much detail as possible.
  4. Retelling MUST be practiced every day in order to develop a better sense of how to do it.

Time after time after time, I hear from parents (even though they are asked to listen to their reader at home) that their child reads on his/her own without an adult nearby.  REALLY?? Why??  I can tell who is reading at home with an adult and who is not.  Some readers have not made the progress that parents had anticipated because although I read often with their child, I cannot do it alone. Parents, first grade teachers cannot emphasize enough:  READ with your child! Every day!

Having a conference at this late date is not going to change your child’s grade.  Sorry.  Finding out how to have your child reach perfection is also not going to happen.  Children are not perfect, neither are we and if anything, the children are losing their steam and may have already reached an academic peak for the year.  What I hope that parents get from their conferences this week and next, and from this blog is that they have a responsibility to help their children become better readers. Your child is unable to do it alone; even though to you it may appear that he/she is a good reader.  Listen to your child read and then ask questions, I guarantee that you will be surprised at what you hear. Then you may understand how your child gets the grades that he/she earns at school.

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May 17, 2012 · 5:40 pm

Tips From The Teacher

I completed my parent conference this week and not only did I do a lot of listening but I also did a lot of talking!  Teachers often are full of suggestions for parents to try out at home with their child. Usually these suggestions are coming from years and years of teaching experience and we want to share the knowledge of children that we have picked up along the way.   Parents, if your child’s teacher gives you any suggestions regarding your child’s:

  • Behavior
  • Academics
  • Social skills
  • Responsibility
  • Maturity Level…or anything else, LISTEN! .. PLEASE! The teacher is not speaking to hear herself/himself talk.  We often think that parents think that is exactly what we are doing. Your child’s teacher is trying to give you some ideas on ways for your child to make improvements and be more successful at school.  This week I heard from one of my parents after the parent conference.  These parents told me that they HAD listened to me at the conference and were taking my suggestions to heart. What? Was I hearing correctly?  Parents don’t usually tell us that they are trying out some of the suggestions that we have made.  These parents obviously love their child and want the best for him/her and they were willing to not only listen to me, but try out some of my suggestions as well. Will my suggestions be magic pills and fix everything? Of course not, but opening up the lines of communication between school and home is magical to say the least.  Raising a child is a lifelong process but your child’s teacher has a key role in this process.  Listen to and try out any advice that has been given and both you and your child will be happier for it.

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Filed under Behavior, First Grade, Kindergarten, Maturity, Parent Teacher Conferences, Parents, Social Skills


First graders do a lot of paperwork every day.  Teachers are trying very hard to do away with busy work papers and only give a paper as an assignment as a follow up to an activity or learning center.  We are working on eliminating paperwork, but nonetheless, at the end of the day, your child has completed lots of papers at school.  I found this site that allows your child to get away from paperwork and explore his/her creativity by way of creating a unique musical sound. This site that allows your child to create music! It is fun and all they have to do is click on a grid and a musical note is heard.  Your child continues to click on squares and the musical notes repeat themselves always adding the new note. Your child will be entertained for quite some time while he/she continues to explore different ways to create a song.  Check this out with your child and you will see how much fun he/she can have with music.


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Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten, Parents