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.
In the beginning of May, I highly recommend that all parents ask their child’s teacher a very important question: “Is my child on grade level?” If the answer is no, there is still enough time left in the school year to take action.
Many parents ask, “What can I do to help him get to where he needs to be?” Here are five easy tasks to help your child finish kindergarten, 1st grade, or 2nd grade on grade-level, and ready for advancement:
1. Make reading, every night, a priority. Ask her teacher for some grade-level appropriate books that could be borrowed from the classroom or school library. Or, once you know the correct level, get books from your local public library. Pick a time each evening to read together, for at least fifteen minutes.
2. Start a vocabulary “piggy bank.” When an unfamiliar word is encountered in a story, write the word in a notebook. Next to the word help your child write a simple definition. Once a week read the new words and definitions to “count” how the bank is growing.
3. Write stories. Have your child draw a picture and write a simple story about it. Connect the pictures and stories to events in your family. Visiting relatives, going to the zoo, running errands on the weekends are good subjects for stories. They help children make a personal connection to their writing. Keep the stories in binder for easy reference.
4. Practice math counting, backwards. Have your kindergarten child count forward and backward from 1-50; have your 1st grader count backwards from 1-100; and have your 2nd grader count backwards from 1-200. Confidently counting forward and backward is important because it makes simple addition and subtraction easier.
5. Connect to 10. Connecting to “10” helps a child know math facts more efficiently. Most children can easily count by 10’s, starting on 10 for 10, 20, 30. But practicing “off the decade” by tens is immensely helpful. Start at 3, for example, and add 10, for 3, 13, 23, 33. Do this type of counting both forward and backward.
These last few weeks of school are a very important time in a young child’s educational development. This can be the time of year when things start to “click.” With a little help, your child can finish the school year confidently and securely on grade-level.