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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.

First Grade is More Than Academics

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Music kidsI'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!


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