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.

Foundation Skills for Young Learners

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The New Year is a time for reflection and resolution.  We tend to get rid of what doesn’t work in our life, and fine-tune what does.

Parents want to know how to maximize their young child’s early learning success, without putting them under too much pressure.

My experience has taught me that when you help your young child learn three core skills, you are on the road to rapid learning and school success.

I call these skills my “Triangle Base.”  They are:

  • The ability to hear sounds in spoken language. (This is called Phonemic Awareness.)
  • Understanding one-to-one correspondence. (In both math and reading.)
  • Understanding patterns. (Visual and auditory.)

Here are three easy and effective ways to practice these skills:

  • The most effective way to practice Phonemic Awareness is to rhyme! Read nursery rhymes or Dr. Seuss books to your child. Make up your own rhymes while driving. Rhyming is a powerful tool to prepare a child for letter sounds and decoding words. The more that your child can hear and say rhymes, the better prepared he or she will be to read.
  • In reading, one-to-one correspondence is simply saying what a child is seeing. In math one-to-one correspondence means seeing the numeral 7 for example, and being able to count out seven objects. A parent can help their child practice these skills by putting their index finger under words they are saying, while they point to it.  For math, roll a die and let your child count out pennies to match the number of dots on the die.
  • To practice visual patterns go on a “pattern hunt” in your house or yard. Look for patterns in floor tiles, wallpaper, curtains, rugs, etc.Your child will become a pattern detective! Listen for auditory patterns in music, such as the “EIEIO” in “Old MacDonald.”  Listen for patterns in stories that you are reading, such as “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in!” in the “Three Little Pigs.”

Understanding these three core skills can lead to good comprehension in both reading and math.  While these are by no means the only skills needed for learning, they form a solid foundation for early academic success.

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