Midway through the school year is a key time to reflect on your child’s school success. It’s the perfect time to “celebrate the halfway point” or to “plan it out.” By these two phrases I mean:
Acknowledging that your child has met or exceeded expected benchmarks for his age and grade.
Or if he is working below grade level, setting goals and helping him create ways to achieve those goals.
Here are some important things to consider if your child has reached her midyear goals:
This means that throughout the first semester your child has had many small, daily successes. He has used prior knowledge to “figure things out.” Talk to him about what has helped him when the work has been difficult. For example, what strategies did he use to remember subtraction? What did he do when he came to an unknown word in reading? Encourage him to build on those strategies, as the work becomes more challenging in the second semester.
Provide opportunities to expand knowledge. Visit your local library regularly for borrowing books, attending story hour, or engaging in other library activities. Visit local points of interest or museums. Provide paper, crayons, markers, etc. Unplug from entertainment devices and encourage him to draw, write, and create.
And if academic remediation is needed:
The first step is to meet with your child's teacher to understand exactly what areas need to be addressed. Ask the teacher for some simple ideas, tips, or techniques he could recommend to close the gaps.
After the teacher conference, meet with your child. Focus on what she has done well, so far. Then, together plan out one or two important goals that will build on her successes. For example, if she’s good at sounding out words, set the goal of helping her become more fluent in sight words (the ones you can’t sound out).
Reiterate that no one is perfect. I tell my 1st grade students that mistakes are great! Don’t be afraid to make them because that’s how most people learn. Help instill a sense that mistakes are an opportunity to get it right the next time.
These approaches, as you both reflect on midyear progress, will help increase your child’s self-confidence and develop a sense of perseverance. These strategies will also acknowledge and reinforce that organized hard work produces good results.
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.