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.
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.
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.
I came across an article that listed the top 10 ways to improve Reading Skills. I have attached the link to the site here but I find it very rewarding that the NUMBER ONE way to improve reading skills is to:
Set aside a regular time to read to your child EVERY day!! No excuses, parents, every day!!
Year after year, I have told parents the same thing. Children learn by example. Parents, your children MUST see and listen to you reading to them every day. You are a positive role model for your child’s success with reading. When they see/hear their parents reading, the children want to become better readers as well. I believe that I have heard every possible excuse about why a parent cannot read to his/her child. No time, got home late, child had homework to do, dinner was late, child/or parent is tired…and the list goes on. The number one excuse that most parents give is ‘my child can already read and they don’t need me anymore’. Chances are they cannot read as well as you think that they can (but that is a topic for another blog). Your child needs you at the end of a busy day and you need him/her. Reading together is a perfect way to relax and enjoy time together before the lights go out and all too soon it will be the start of another busy day.
Teachers request parent teacher conferences for many reasons. It could be anything from academic concerns, to your child’s behavior, or your child’s ability to make new friends. One thing for certain is that if a teacher calls for a conference, he/she feels strongly that there is just cause for the meeting. I tell parents that I don’t like to deliver surprises during our required parent teacher conference in November, so I often will meet with parents before this conference to discuss concerns that cannot wait. As a parent you should go to any and all parent teacher conferences. Listen to what is being said at the conference and then together with the teacher discuss goals for the child that involves both school and home. Then make a commitment to being an active participant in your child’s education. Your child’s teacher cannot do it all alone. He/she needs your support to help make this a successful year as possible.