teaching thoughts

First day

It’s time to get ready to go back to school. This is such a fun and exciting time. Everything is new… new clothes, new backpack, new school supplies. Some children get over excited about all this new and change. But, remember that not all children deal with change well. There are some children who will struggle with this change. They need extra reassurance about what is to come.

Families need to support their child through this change. One big way is for the adults to keep their own emotions level. As an early childhood teacher, and mother of 2 boys, I can tell you that children will adjust to going to school. They will be ok after you drop them off. How you as a parent deal with your own emotions of that first day will impact your child.

So, what do we need to do? Talk! Talk about what your child will do the first day. How will they get to school? What will they do next? Help them learn the name of their teacher(s). Practice greetings. Practice asking for help. Practice sitting and waiting. Practice raising their hand. Practice walking in a line.

And as a parent, practice saying good-bye. Practice keeping in the tears. Practice being the cheerleader and saying it is going to be fun and you will be ok. Then be ready to let go. Walk outside, get in your car and then you can have your emotional moment. It’s ok to feel sad, to see your little one growing up before your eyes. To feel nervous for your child. To wonder if they will find a friend. Will the teacher “get” my child? Will they remember to eat lunch and use their manners? This is all part of growing up. It’s part of seeing your child grow into the independent individual that will shape their future. It is one more step… and it is ok.

I promise you… your child will be ok. The teacher will help your child adjust. The teacher will calm the fears and dry the tears. Your child will be ok.

teaching thoughts

Where to start

Is your little one getting ready for preK or kindergarten? Maybe they are heading off to first grade? Oftentimes I get asked, what do I need to do to get my child ready for school. There is so much to that question. Are you asking about academically, socially or just in general? Here are some thoughts for you about getting ready to go to school/back to school.

Starting a few weeks before, switch their bedtime and wake up time to the hours you need for school. It will take some adjusting to get off the summer schedule and if you start ahead of time, you will thank yourself for it the first few weeks of school. Sleep is key to a productive school day and year. Children ages 5-12 need 9-12 hours of sleep. Determine what time your child needs to go to bed based on what time they need to get up in the morning.

Practice self-help skills that your child will need to perform during the school day. This includes buttoning and zipping pants, opening and closing zip lock bags, opening juice boxes etc. Before the weather gets cooler, begin practicing putting on and zipping jackets. Children in kindergarten and first grade should be working on mastering shoe tying as well. The more your child can do independently the more successful he/she will feel during the school day.

Begin working on school related skills: using scissors, squeezing glue bottles to use just a dot (dot, dot not a lot), opening markers/glue sticks/glue bottles and putting papers into folders. Also begin working on using writing tools such as pencils, crayons and markers.

As adults, we often do things for our children because it is faster and we can “do it correctly”. But, when we slow down and give children the gift of time, we allow them to develop independence. When getting ready to leave, take a few extra moments and have your child put on their own shoes, jackets and other items. Encourage your child to help pack their lunch and snacks. Take the time to demonstrate and talk through zippers, shoe tying and other skills. While some children are not ready for these fine motor skills, most can master them with a bit of support and patience!

game · teaching thoughts

In the Car

I often get asked for suggestions on how to work on letter recognition, colors, counting etc… Driving in the car is a great time to work on these skills. Play games and make it fun!

Choose a specific topic to work on and stick with it.

Search for letters. Go through the alphabet A-Z or focus on one or two letters. Work together or make it a contest. Who can find the letters on signs, license plates, car names etc…

Play I-Spy. Take turns giving clues based on an item in view of the car. I-spy something that starts with the sound /c/ or I-spy something blue.

Count cars based on type. How many red cars can we find? How many trucks? How many out of state cars?

Keep books in your car. Books on CD play a book on youtube that you have the book of so your child can follow along in their own book.

There are many ways to engage in learning in the car. You and your child will be interacting and learning.

teaching thoughts · writing

Name Practice

If your child is going into pre-K or kindergarten, one thing that will help before they enter is working on their name. First they need to know their given name. Many children have only heard their nickname and are confused when adults use their given name. Most teachers will call children their nickname, if they are asked to by the child/family. But, there is still a need for your child to know their given name. Kindergarteners should know their first and last name.

Next start working on recognizing their name in print. Most teachers use names to label items in the classroom. Being able to recognize their name in print will help him/her find their spaces in the classroom. Practice picking out their name from others that start with the same letter. Often children learn to recognize the first letter and then get confused when there are multiple with the same letter.

Kindergarteners will need to know how to write their first name and will quickly move onto writing their last names. Names should be written with only the first letter capitalized, unless their are multiple capital letters in their name. Lori not LORI or McKenna not MCKENNA. When your child is doing art, have them write their name on their art. Use various medium to practice writing their name.

More information on name activities, check out this post of from last year.

teaching thoughts

Almost August

Can you believe that July is almost over? What does this mean… back to school. While some schools do not go back until Sept, many schools open back up in August. So for most teachers the end of July feels like the end of summer.

What does it mean for parents? Back to school shopping. Time to pick up new clothes, backpacks, lunchboxes and everything off your child’s supply list.

Here is my thought as a parent and teacher about supply lists.

First make sure to get the items on the list. You might not realize it, but the teachers have little to no budget to set up their classrooms. So, if they are asking for items that seem strange or excessive, it is for a reason. Most teachers ask for all the materials they will need for the school year at this time because they are on sale. So when you get asked for dozens of pencils, crayons and erasers, understand this means you won’t be asked to supply more later.

Only label the items your teacher asks you to label. Teachers ask for specific brands for two reasons… one they will ask for the best quality so they last longer and in the case of crayons/markers/colored pencils the color looks better with some brands. Another reason is that they put all the materials in one space and will give out new ones to al the children without having to search through for the ones labeled with a child’s name. (In the past, there was also the chance the items would become community supplies).

If the teacher asks for certain colors, follow those steps too. Teachers will assign certain colors to different subject red-reading, yellow- writing, blue- math etc… This makes it easier for the children to find the specific materials they need.

Remember your child will be using these materials!

My brands of choice:

  • pencils- Ticonderoga
  • crayons- Crayola
  • colored pencils- Crayola
  • Markers- Crayola or Mr. Sketch
  • scissors- Fiskars
  • glue/glue stick- Elmers
  • Dry Erase Markers- Expo