SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

Ready, Set, Science

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Girl with magnifying glass"Hands-on" science is a great way to get your young child interested in learning. It's something that can be incorporated easily into daily life. If you have a reluctant reader, or timid math student, making a science connection can be the catalyst to overcoming those fears.

Here's what to do:

  • Help your child think like a scientist. Create a science center. In a specific place in your home keep a box, containing a magnifying glass, flashlight, ruler, pencils or crayons and a notebook. Encourage your child to observe seasonal items, like acorns or leaves, and draw what he observes in the notebook. Help him label his drawings.
  • Let your child become a nature detective. Take a magnifying glass outside and look for "pill bugs" under rocks in your yard. Watch how they roll into balls for protection.
  • At the beach, park, or on a hike hunt for feathers, shells, bug or snake casings, or animal tracks. When found, talk about what animals might create such tracks, or leave such casings and why.
  • In your neighborhood, on the curb or a low wall, help your child balance and walk one foot in front of the other, until she can easily do it herself. She'll be learning the concept of "Balance and Motion."
  • In your yard, or at the park practice hopping on one foot. Count the hops from a starting point to a certain object. For example, hop from the back door to the big tree. When hopping back count backwards to make a math connection!
  • Watch the weather report together. Introduce the word "precipitation" and explain that it means moisture from the sky.
  • Get an inexpensive outside thermometer and let your child check the temperature daily.
  • Go outside together and look at the clouds. Talk about the "Water Cycle" and how the sun heats the water. As the heated water evaporates, it becomes clouds. The clouds become full of water and darken. When the clouds cannot hold any more moisture it starts to rain. When the sun comes out, the cycle starts all over again.

Young children always ask questions. Helping them find out answers, through simple "hands-on" science, lets inquiry lead to learning.

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Do you allow your children to watch TV or play on the computer before doing their homework?