January 31

Cursive

On Fridays, we try to practice and review cursive in fun ways.  I told the children to write directly on their desks with dry erase markers to practice our first five letters.  Their reactions to my directions were so cute.  I actually had to write on a desk to show them that it was OK and that the marker would wipe right off their desks when we were finished.

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January 26

Diversity

To continue with our discussion of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream that “one day people would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”, we did the following two activities:

I brought in candy kisses that had different colored wrappers.  We discussed that it wasn’t the wrapper that was important, but what was inside it.  Further, you have to open the wrapper to know what you will find inside.  People may have different wrappers (skin color or clothes), but until you get to know the person, you won’t know their heart or character.  You shouldn’t prejudge them.

Then I showed two presents:  one was wrapped beautifully and the other was wrapped with plain paper.  Most of us agreed that we would be drawn to the gift with the beautiful wrapping.  Then I opened both gifts.  The plainly wrapped gift had an i Pod and ear buds while the gift with the fancy wrapping held a can of green beans.  I asked, “Can you tell what is in the inside by looking at the outside?”  We concluded with the idea that although one box was wrapped nicely, it wasn’t special on the inside;  however, the plainly wrapped box held a nice surprise. Our takeaway was that we shouldn’t choose friends or judge others by what we see on the outside.  The only way to know what is on the inside (their character) is to take steps to get to know them.   One of the children connected this idea with the saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  1samuel 16:7

January 22

What Teachers Wish Parents Knew

I found this article on Parent and Child Magazine Blog.  It’s a great place for you to visit for interesting articles about children of all ages.  Although this is specifically about kindergarten, the ideas also apply to second graders.  (The links in this article are informative too.)

1. Your job isn’t over when you drop your little one off at school; it has only just begun. Your child’s teacher wants to be your partner. Keep them informed about what goes on at home that might affect your child’s behavior or academic performance. Share with them how what they do at school affects your child at home.

2. This is not your grandfather’s kindergarten. Sadly, much of what happens in kindergarten is driven by high standards and preparation for standardized tests. The expectations of what children need to know when they enter kindergarten are closer to what used to be expected in 1st grade. To boost your child’s academic skills:

  • Talk with her about what interests her.
  • Encourage her to be curious and ask questions.
  • Point out letters and numbers when you see them in books and around town.
  • Support her in solving everyday problems.

3. The more self-control your child has, the more successful he will be in school. Children need practice in deciding how and when to express their feelings and needs, and when and if to act on impulses. Help him develop and practice these skills at home before he tests them at school, where the consequences are a loss of learning for him and for others.

4. Make yourself known. Come in. Look around. Peruse the textbooks and materials. Knowledge is power. When you know about the subjects your child is studying, you will be able to help her better and have a common understanding for discussion. Volunteering is a wonderful way to learn about what goes on at school and to show your child how much you care about what she is doing.

5. Your child needs lots of opportunities for play outside of school. Play is the way in which he learns about himself and the people and world around him. But more often than not, play has been squeezed out of the school day. Playing both alone and in small groups helps facilitate learning and allows your child to practice skills and concepts.

6. Reading to your child once a day is not enough. Try to read together at least three times a day. Books are the gateway to building vocabulary, learning about print, and developing listening and early literacy skills. When you read, talk about the book. Discuss the characters and setting, make predictions, and create new endings. Point out letters and words in the text, and encourage him to recognize rhyming sounds and words and to identify beginning and ending sounds.

7. Writing exploration at home is critical. Your child needs to have opportunities to use pencils, crayons, markers, colored pencils, and other writing instruments as she attempts to express herself in written form. She begins with scribbles and lines, moves on to letters and her name, and then to words and sentences.

8. Homework is an opportunity for talking, sharing, and listening. Teachers give homework to extend the learning of the classroom. It is a chance for you to find out what your child is studying and how well he is grasping the skills and concepts being taught at school. Talk with your child about his homework. It shows him that you care and value what he does at school.

9. Television and video games use up valuable playtime. Limit screen time. The hours spent with these electronic devices could otherwise be spent talking, reading, or actively learning through play.

10. First-hand experiences are another teacher for your child. Take her to museums, the zoo, the aquarium, the library, parks, arts performances, and geographic locations such as the mountains, beach, forests, and deserts. And do it often. She’ll grasp concepts and skills better if she has experiences with the real thing.