How lucky we are to be part of our child's learning journey and as a parent be their first and most important teacher. Report cards come home on Thursday. This is your chance to look over it with them and talk to your child about their strengths and what he/she would like to work on at school. Maybe it is reading, writing, math, spelling, or on their social and emotional health. Help them set a goal and support them! We are halfway through the year and still, oh, so much to learn! We can do it!
For example, if your child wants to be a better reader, set aside 20 minutes or more each night where you read aloud to your child and/or where your child reads aloud to you! Do you have just right books at home –no? We can help. Tell us and we can get you books! We are working on an at home reading program here at Winans by partnering with our PTO and have been doing a book drive around the community to get more books to send home. This is actually the last week of the book drive at all the banks in town. Please if you have any books your child no longer wants at home, bring in books, so we can get them in the hands of our students here at Winans who don’t have books in their home! And please, if you need books in your home, we can help you right away due to the generosity in this community! Just let us know. Until then… more to come on the At Home Reading Program we are trying to begin!
Why books in the home? Research tells us over and over again that 20 minutes extra a day can transform a child’s reading life. Make sure the books are interesting and at a “just right” level where your child is only needing to use their strategies (sound it out and look at the letters, skip the word and come back to it, ask what makes sense, use the pictures for clues, etc.) a few times throughout the book. Instead of telling your child a word, remind them to use a reading strategy! Also, if they need to work on fluency (becoming faster) make sure they have access to books that are just a little bit easy, so they can read over and over again and build confidence. And always, you can help your child be a better reader by checking for understanding. Just by stopping and asking your child what is going on in the story you can see if your child is comprehending- the whole reason why we read! Sometimes we don’t need to even ask though… if your child is sharing interesting facts, laughing about what is in a book, crying because something is so sad… we know our child is understanding. Listen to them talk about their books as that is what readers do! When they begin to have strong opinions about books this is when we know as parents we have properly supported our readers along the way. For becoming a better reader isn’t just about saying the words correctly, it is about living a life where we have thoughts and ideas about books, authors, and ideas and new learning to share.
If your child wants to be a better writer, make sure he/she has access to paper, a journal, or just a spiral notebook. Students who spend more time writing, will become better writers! Emphasize ideas with your young writer! Research tells us again and again that conventions such as capitals, punctuations, etc. should be last as our focus, but ideas is where we want to spend the most time with our young writers. A punctuation mark or period never changed the world, but ideas have! A lazy day at home is a perfect time for your child to create books even if their first book starts as a picture with a few scribbles… this is beginning writing. Help them to expand the story over pages by first touching each page and telling about their story with their words (for storytelling is the foundation of all writing). Then help them to go back and try to put their ideas down on paper. Once again, don’t emphasize the conventions of writing- that can be done when the story is done… help their ideas flow and help them organize their ideas. And good writers, read! Ask most authors and they will tell you, it is through their own life events and other stories they have read that help them have ideas on what to write about.
If your child wants to be a better speller, number one thing you can do as a parent is make sure they are reading! There is so much research to support that the best spellers are the children who spend the most time reading. It makes sense as the brain sees a word 30 times and then often remembers it. Get books in your home! Give time to your child to read. Give them books that they are interested in. Let them choose where they read and you will see their spelling improve!
If your child wants to make a goal in math, it will depend what area of math. For many students in first and second grade a strong foundation in number sense is crucial. If he/she doesn’t have a strong foundation in number sense, then your child can often struggle in other areas of math. Number Sense is the ability to recognize numbers, identify their relative values, and understand how to use them in a variety of ways, such as counting, measuring, or estimating. Number sense includes number meanings, number relationships, number size, and the relative effect of operations on numbers. How do you help your child improve in number sense? There are so many ways. One easy way is just to constantly playing mental math games of adding or subtracting or missing numbers. Playing games is a great way too! At math night on Jan. 25th, I will share how games like Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, Uno, Life, Monopoly, Yahtzee, Sorry, and even a simple card game like War can help your child work on number sense skills. Until then, here are some other ways!
Maybe your child is doing well academically, but wants to work on making new friends or regulating their emotions. As a parent this is a realm that can be hard to navigate because we often aren’t sure how our child is doing in this area unless we see them with these friends in our home environment and even then, school and home is so different. If you are wondering about this part of your child’s development, I encourage you to ask your child’s teacher about how they are doing. Ask your child’s teacher if your child is a good friend, how she’s getting along with others as a partner or in a small group situation, and if she/he ever gets emotional and can regulate by calming and taking breaks on their own or needs some support with this. As a parent, talking to your child about who they played with, who they were kind to today, who they helped out today, and how they were respectful, responsible, and ready puts the responsibility on them. How do you make friends as an adult? Do you give compliments, ask others questions about themselves, listen, smile, check in with them on something they shared with you days before…. These are all strategies we can teach our children as well!
I am sure there are so many areas which your child has improved in… celebrate! Maybe there is an area your child wants to grow in… encourage! As a parent we can have great influence over our child’s learning just by talking, listening, and encouraging their hard work. Remember if you are at all concerned about your child's learning journey, please contact your teacher to learn more. They are with your child all day and can give you great insight into their school day.
Thank you for all you continue to do for your child each and every day. We are halfway there, let's celebrate, set goals, and continue to support one another on this incredible journey we get to share with our child. First grade will never happen again. Second grade will never happen again for your child. Treasure it all and let's do all we can do support our wonderful children.