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.

Get Your 1st Grader “Common Core Ready” for Reading

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If your child is entering 1st grade, there are certain skills that should have been mastered in kindergarten. To keep those skills sharp, and be first-grade “Common Core Ready” for reading, here are 3 ways to practice during the remaining weeks of summer. These activities are perfect when reading a fiction or non-fiction story together, at bedtime or anytime:


• Ask your child questions about the story and make sure he answers using key details. For example, if reading Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne, you might try asking, “What are the children’s names and how are they related?” (Jack and Annie are brother and sister.) Or, “How does Jack escape from the T-Rex?” (He gets a ride on the back of a Pteranodon.)

• If reading a non-fiction text, such as From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Heiligman focus on setting and events.  Ask, “Where does this story take place?” (Children in the story observe the changes in a classroom) “How does the caterpillar become a butterfly?”  (Egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly…metamorphosis!) 

• Ask your child to answer questions that determine or clarify word meanings in a sentence. When reading Whales by Gail Gibbons, for example, ask, “How do you know a whale is a mammal?” (Breathes air, babies born alive, not hatched, etc.) “What are the two different groups of whales?” (Toothed and baleen.)

 Teaching your child to pay attention to details, setting, events, and new vocabulary in stories will insure that she becomes a proficient and comprehensive 1st grade reader!

Editor’s note: Is your child entering kindergarten? Read Connie’s blog posts on preparing your child to be “Common Core Ready” for kindergarten math.


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