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.

Use This Week To Ease Your Children into January’s Increased Academics

In the early grades, January is traditionally a time when schoolwork accelerates.

Young students have been steadily building on skills since the start of the school year. They have also been learning the various routines of their new grade.

Usually academics become more intense and fast-forward starting in January. This week, between the holidays, seems like a great time for children to get physically and mentally ready for that January challenge; at the same time, children also need this vacation time to rest and recharge before going back to meet the increased pace. 

So how does a parent balance “down-time” for their children with keeping their skills sharp?

Here are three enjoyable activities parents can do this week for fun, relaxation—and skill reinforcement:

  • Play board games with the family. Chutes and Ladders, Checkers, Scrabble for Juniors, or any favorite family game are all great ways to relax yet subtly review school skills.
  • Weather permitting let your child get plenty of outdoor time. Running around, riding bikes, skateboarding, sledding, etc. are great ways to hone gross motor skills. Good gross motor skills sequentially lead to better fine motor skills.
  • Read, read, and read some more! Turn off the electronics for an hour or two. Let voice mail answer the phone. Cuddle up with a good book together, or each of you read your own book quietly in the same room. When reading time is done, ask questions about what your child just read. 

Simple, restful activities like these can help young children be ready for all the academic challenges they will face in the New Year. 

Happy New Year, everyone!


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