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.

Everyday Ways to Help Children Practice New Skills

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Now that school is in session your young child is learning new skills every day.  Here are some simple ways to reinforce and practice those skills as part of your family’s routines:


  • Count backwards. While warming something in the microwave for 60 seconds, let her count down the numbers out loud. This practice helps backward counting skills become more automatic.


  • Make him a smart shopper. Take him with you on your next trip to the grocery store. Beforehand, make a list together to practice writing skills. When you are in close proximity for a particular item on the list, let him use visual and letter skills to find it. If he’s having difficulty, try the “getting warm” technique!


  • Play “I Spy:” While driving to school, sports practice, dance lessons, etc., have her find particular letters or numbers on street signs, houses, license plates, and more. She can shout, “I spy!” when she finds the items.


  • Create a Mini-Chef:  Together read recipes or directions, and make recipes that are easy to make with kids. Explain unfamiliar words such as “sift.” This reinforces reading and vocabulary. Let him help measure ingredients for mixing. This shows how things go in sequence. When the food is cooked, let him help divide items into parts for math skills practice. Or, group warm cookies into sets of five to count the total, and then have him practice subtraction: “How many are left when we both eat one?”


  • Watch sporting events together. Have her read aloud the numbers on players’ shirts. Count the number of on-field or court players. Watch the game clock to see how much time is left. Count down together when the clock has less than a minute left. Estimate the final score, and see how close her estimate was at the end of the game. 


Learning is a natural part of life.  By having your child pay attention to simple daily activities, you create a treasure trove of teachable moments!

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Do you allow your children to watch TV or play on the computer before doing their homework?