I've often said that First Grade is a magical year in a child’s life. This is because First Graders arrive in September, primarily as "babies" in the school hierarchy. However, by the end of the school year, I could leave for the day and they could run the class!
First Grade children learn how to become real students. And it’s not just about reading, writing and math. It’s also the social, emotional, and organizational skills they learn that support the academics.
Here’s what parents can do to help sharpen these important skills:
- Get your child involved in some kind of team activity, such as sports, scouts, dance, etc. Group activities help children learn about sharing and working together for a common goal, while having lots of fun!
- Help your child stay organized. Have a specific place for backpacks, lunchboxes, homework folders, etc. If your child forgets his homework folder, for example, don’t drop it off for him. Facing consequences at an early age helps your child develop their sense of responsibility.
- Don’t get drawn into over-emotional responses. If your child is upset, calmly say, "I can’t understand you while you are crying. As soon as you can tell me what’s wrong, I’ll help you." Validating their feelings, without getting drawn into the drama, helps young children learn to use words to solve their problems.
Blending these skills with academics, as early as possible, will allow your child to thrive in a group setting. That’s the magic of First Grade!