by Marc Bermann, Recruiter/Trainer
All schools systems have academic standards that provide an important, clear roadmap for learning. In the early stages of language arts and literacy development, children will learn the fundamentals of letter and word recognition; sentence structure and reading comprehension. In the early stages of mathematics development, they will learn counting and comparing numbers (i.e., which is a greater amount?) and basic word problems. To help your child perform in school, it is best to help your child learn at home, as well. Try to create a quiet place for your child to study, and carve out time every day when your child can concentrate. You should also try to sit down with your child at least once a week for 15 to 30 minutes while he or she works on homework. This will keep you informed about what your child is working on, and it will help you be the first to know if your child needs help with specific topics or concepts.
Additionally, here are some activities you can do with your child to support learning at home:
- Read with your child every day. Ask your child to explain his or her favorite parts of the story and describe a picture from the book.
- Encourage your child to tell you about his or her day at school.
- Pick a Word of the Day each day starting with a different letter and look for other things beginning with the same letter.
- Keep a 3-ring binder of lined paper and a box of pencils available to encourage your child to practice printing letter and numbers, whenever possible.
- Ask your child questions that require counting familiar objects around your house, such as “How many pictures are on the wall?”
- Ask your child questions that require comparing numbers such as, “Which shelf has more books on it?”
- If you open a new carton of a dozen eggs and you use four eggs to cook dinner, close the carton and ask how many eggs are left.
- Play the I’m Thinking of a Number game. For example, “I’m thinking of a number that makes 10 when you add 4 to it. What is my number?”
In addition to building reading comprehension and computational skills, the classrooms of Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade allow for children to participate in group problem solving, cooperative learning and positive socialization. Spend time every day during dinner conversation or at bedtime, encouraging your child to talk about how he or she feels about what they did in school. Listen carefully to the words they use and note any concerns that may be of interest to their teachers. This is an important part of educational advocacy; being proactive about the challenges of being in school, rather than just reacting to a crisis that has come and gone. The next article in this series will be What to Expect in 3rd, 4th and 5th Grades. Remember, we’re all in this together, in the best interests of the children and youth who can benefit for our roles as caregivers, teachers and mentors.