Helping Your Child At Home
Children spend over six hours a day at school, but the learning doesn't have to stop there. Work on reinforcing skills can continue at home in many ways. There are many activities that can be done at home to help students retain what they are learning at school. For ideas specific to your child, please do not hesitate to contact me.
The best thing you can do to help your child with reading is to provide as many opportunities as possible to read a variety of texts. Most importantly, your child should be reading their Just-Right books that they bring home from school for a minimum of 10-15 minutes a night. Here are some skills that you can help your child work on with their Just-Right books:
- Look at the cover of the book and make a prediction about the story based on the title and the picture on the cover.
- Turn the book over and read the back of the book
- Take a picture walk and get your mind ready to read.
- Write down questions you may have about the book.
- If your child gets stuck on a tricky word while reading, give them a few minutes to try different decoding strategies such as skipping the word and using context clues, getting their mouth ready to read the word, stretch the word out and read through the word, looking for chunks, blends, digraphs, vowel teams, etc. that they know. Then, after they figure out the word, or you help them figure it out, have them go back to the beginning of the sentence or paragraph to reread it.
- Stop to discuss parts that don't make sense. Think about why it doesn't make sense and figure out a way to be able to understand what was read.
- Make connections. Your child should stop to think about text-text, text-self, and text-world connections. Text-self connections will be the most frequent but it's important to recognize how making these connections improve our understanding of the text.
- Talk about questions your child has about the text. Model thinking aloud for your child too. You might wonder aloud about why the character looks sad in the picture.
- Make predictions as you read through and then talk about whether they were right or wrong.
- Think about the author's message. Why did he/she write this story? What did he/she want the reader to know?
- Talk about if your child was surprised by the ending of the story and why or why not.
- Think about whether predictions made before reading were correct.
- Let your child use Post-its to stop and jot while they read.
- Reread the story many times. Rereading the story allows your child to try different things on each read. Here is an example of how multiple readings might go:
- Read to decode tricky words.
- Read more fluently now that tricky words are decoded.
- Read with true fluency and experience.
- Read for meaning and understanding.
- Read with meaning in mind; Change your voice to show the feelings of the characters or to represent different characters.
- Try reading it a different way with different intonations.
Exposure to other reading experiences is beneficial too! Here are some other avenues to explore:
- When shopping at a store, ask your child to read labels, signs, and anything else that might be available. Talk about what the words are trying to tell the reader.
- When driving in the car, ask your child to try to read the street signs. They can use the patterns that they are learning in Word Study to help them decode these proper nouns.
- At home, give your child age-appropriate comic strips, short articles, or advertisements to read.
- Read more challenging books together and practice retelling the story, making connections, talking about the meaning of the story, and asking questions. You may want to take turns reading pages or sentences with your child.
- Practice the same strategies used for Just-Right books.
Children's writing skills are improved by continued exposure to model texts. As they begin to read more challenging and complex books, they will begin to notice things that good writers do and begin to mimic those strategies. Providing your child with daily opportunities to write will be very beneficial. It is also important to show students the practical uses for writing to give it meaning in their own lives. Here are some activities you can try:
- Provide your child with plenty of paper to write on. You may want to provide more than one type of paper so that your child can choose a paper appropriate for their story's needs. You may also ask your child to design their own paper and then reproduce it for them. I can also provide a copy of paper for you if you would like.
- Ask your child to write about their day.
- When you make your shopping list, let your child write it for you.
- Give your child a journal to write down his/her private thoughts.
- Find a pen pal for your child, a relative, neighbor, or friend and encourage your child to write letters to his/her pen pal.
- Let your child write down wish lists for birthday and holidays.
- If planning a party, have your child write the guest list, to do list, or supply list.
Don't forget that you have a My Reference Book available online, which can help your child work through problems if they get stuck on their homework.
When we teach multi-digit addition, we first teach the Partial Sums Algorithm before teaching the U.S. Traditional Algorithm. Partial Sums is an important strategy for adding because it gives students a better understanding of what happens when you add. Then, when we teach students to carry to the next place value in the Traditional Algorithm, they understand why they are doing that.
I have put some information about Trade-First Subtraction on my website to also help you.
There are many ways to help your child improve their math skills. In addition to visiting the Everyday Math website (see my Helpful Websites section) here are some other ways to keep your child in a mathematical frame of mind:
- Practice math facts. Increasing the automaticity of math facts (addition and subtraction) will help your child complete problems more accurately and quickly. This can be done with flashcards and verbal or written drills. Children can practice these before bed, at dinner, in the car, or any time!
- Let your child count the change in your pocket (you could even let them keep it if they count it correctly)
- Have your child keep a calendar of their schedule to help them practice calendar skills.
- Have your child take a poll of favorite foods, what people are wearing, etc. and then make a graph.
- Play supermarket and have your child pretend to buy food or sell food to practice paying for things and making change.
- If your child asks you what time it is or how much longer until something, have them figure it out. Provide an analog clock for your child so that they can practice using time in their own life.
- Let your child look through a toy catalogue with some pretend money and have them pretend to shop for things. They can choose one item and practice making change, they can practicing buying multiple items and adding the cost, or they can practice making a ballpark estimate!