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Understanding an Abstract World
First graders move slowly from a world of play into a world of symbols and concepts (with a lot of backtracking along the way). This doesn’t mean that play is not still important, but it does mean that learning in first grade becomes more organized and routine-based, with a lot of room for children’s explorations.
The First Steps
To get a handle on the way your first grader’s brain is developing, think back to her first baby steps. Your child was probably a master crawler before taking those initial wobbly steps. First graders take those same baby steps away from the familiar information that they are comfortable with into a bigger, abstract world that is more difficult to understand. During those early toddling days, your child probably reverted to crawling in order to get somewhere quickly. Similarly, your child will still be more comfortable gaining knowledge through exploration and play. A first grader’s brain is just beginning to grasp a few concepts at the same time, and then to make connections between those concepts.
You can see this in a first grader’s writing. Children use “invented spelling” by writing in ways that make sense to them. They use what they know about sound and spelling relationships to get their ideas onto the page. They haven’t mastered all the letter sounds or spelling rules that they need to be fluent writers, but they’re willing to use what they know to work out the puzzle of written language.
Learning From Mistakes
First graders learn by doing and by making mistakes. These mistakes can be frustrating, so they need positive reminders of the many ways that they are powerful learners.
Until now, most of their learning and growth have been part of a natural progression that took place in the comfortable worlds of play and home. They may have worked hard to learn how to slide down the fire pole in the playground, but no one gave them a grade on how well they did, or how long it took them to accomplish the task.
In first grade, children begin to acquire skills in areas they may not be completely comfortable in — and they may be graded on them. First graders are asked to work with more difficult material and may feel like they are struggling for the first time in their lives. These new situations can sometimes lead normally confident children to feel unsure about their abilities. Previously, they have been “masters” at whatever they did. But now they may feel pressure to learn to read and to grasp more complicated math and science concepts. Therefore, first graders need to be surrounded with excitement and encouragement, and given examples of how we learn from mistakes.
Source - pbs.orgRead more
First grade is an exciting time for new literacy skills. Your child now knows at least 2,000 words! She has a better sense of how words and language work and can sound out more complex words. She's becoming a better speller, too. In math, she's getting faster by the week at adding and subtracting, and she's learning to solve word problems. But your first grader still needs plenty of encouragement. In fact, she needs it now more than ever, says Susan Quinn, a reading specialist and elementary school teacher at Saint Brendan School in the Bronx, New York. "Kids will start to not like school at this age if they feel that they're not smart or that they're not doing well," Quinn says. So give your child extra doses of support this year. First graders are able to talk more about their feelings, so be sure to listen and help out if your child gets discouraged. Here are the important learning milestones children will typically achieve in first grade, with tips for helping your child stay on track.
At School: First graders will be able to read at least 150 high-frequency words ("sight words") by year's end; they will be able to read grade-level books fluently and understand them.
At Home: Give your budding bookworm lots of opportunities to read aloud every day. Have him read a short story aloud while you're cooking or putting dishes away, or give him the important job of reading to his younger sibling. Take turns reading the pages, help him sound out and learn unfamiliar words (use contextual clues like surrounding words or pictures), and keep discussing stories by asking questions ("Why do you think she did that?"). Help him learn prediction by asking, "What do you think will happen next?" and ask him to retell a story in a few sentences to practice summarizing. Always have kids' books or magazines handy if you need to wait somewhere, such as a doctor's office or train station.
At School: In first grade, kids will learn to spell three- and four-letter words and write clear, coherent full sentences. By the end of the year, your child will be forming short paragraphs with at least three or four sentences, and will also be able to write a basic short story (perhaps one about losing a tooth or learning to ride a bike).
At Home: Have your child keep a notebook at home, Quinn says. Kids this age love to write lists and notes to friends, so keep a special notebook on hand for this. It won't be graded, so your child should have fun with it. Encourage her to draw pictures and write without worrying about correcting spelling or grammar. Give fun writing prompts. After you visit the park, ask your child to write about the interesting things she did. Give children prompts connected to reading, too. "After you've read Charlotte's Web, have them write about a pet that they would like to have, or ask what they would name a pet pig if they had one," Quinn suggests.
At School: By the end of the year, kids will be able to count, read, write, and order sequential numbers up to 100. They will also learn how to compare numbers using the signs for greater than, less than, and equal to. First graders will be able to add whole numbers with a sum of 20 or less and subtract from a whole number 20 or less, and they will be introduced to the concept of place value when adding and subtracting two-digit numbers.
At Home: Help your first grader see how math is a big part of everyday life. When you go grocery shopping, talk about how much money you'll need to buy milk and bread. While waiting in line, practice counting by twos and fives together. Hang up a number chart in your child's bedroom showing numbers one to 100 and find a place mat with numbers on it to practice counting during meals.
Measurement and Geometry
At School: In class, kids will compare the length, weight, and volume of two or more objects. They will measure length using small objects, such as paper clips, as units and they will compare, identity, and describe common shapes.
At Home: When cooking, show your child all the numbers on recipes and talk about what they mean as you measure the ingredients. Get a pitcher and a variety of cups and have your child experiment with volume by pouring the same amounts of liquid into different-size cups and different amounts into same-size cups. Have fun with the scale at home and use it to weigh people and objects. Talk about 3-D shapes of objects, such as a tissue box (cube) or ball (sphere), and discuss the different architectural shapes of buildings outside. Examine big and small plates and ask whether they're the same shape. "Shapes can be a lot of fun," Quinn says. "Seeing these as part of their life, not just something taught in school, definitely makes a difference."
Time and Money
At School: Another skill kids will develop further is telling time; first graders will be able to read a clock face to the nearest half hour. They will understand concepts such as "an hour from now," and they will be able to name the days of the week and months of the year. They will also learn to identify different coins, know the value of each one, and combine different amounts (for example, two nickels equal one dime).
At Home: Even if you have a digital clock, find an analog one and point out when the big hand is on the six, or on the 12, and what that means. Look at monthly calendars together, and let your child mark important dates and events. Keep talking about what you did "today" and "yesterday," and what you'll do "tomorrow" or "next week." Play games with coins. Take a pile of spare change and ask your child how many ways he can make 10 cents, 25 cents, or 75 cents.
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Learn about the social milestones your child should have at different ages and the activities that can help enhance social development.
Not all kids need help with the same social skills, and what your child needs practice with could vary, depending on her age. "It's important to know the normal developmental skills appropriate for different age groups so you can determine where the help is needed," says Susan Diamond, M.A., a speech-language pathologist and author of Social Rules for Kids. The proper social skills that need to be taught can be divided into three stages: determining the social skills that need development, figuring out ways to teach the skills, and reinforcing lessons with the right resources. We'll take you through all three stages and offer examples on how a child struggling with general shyness and social anxiety can become a friendly kid who's comfortable and ready to handle any social situations.
Determining the Stages of Social Development
In general, kids will have developed certain social skills and social cues by these ages:
2- to 3-year-olds: able to seek attention from others, initiate social contact with others both verbally (saying "Hi" and "Bye") and physically, look at a person who's talking, have the ability to take turns talking, and laugh at silly objects and events.
3- to 4-year-olds: are able to take turns when playing games, treat a doll or stuffed animal as though it's alive, and initiate verbal communication with actual words.
4- to 5-year-olds: are able to show more cooperation with children, use direct requests (like "Stop"), are more prone to tattling, and pretend to be Mom or Dad in fantasy play.
5- to 6-year-olds: are able to please their friends, say "I'm sorry," "Please," and "Thank you," understand bad words and potty language, are more strategic in bargaining, play competitive games, and understand fair play and good sportsmanship.
6- to 7-year-olds: are able to empathize with others (like crying at sad things), are prone to sharing, use posture and gestures, wait for turns and are better losers and less likely to place blame, joke more and listen to others tell their points of view, and maintain and shift/end topics appropriately. At this age, however, they still can't understand the clear difference between right and wrong, and may not take direction well.
Improving Social Development
Playdates are a crucial part of growing up, but kids with social issues can have a hard time making plans. "Having a playdate is a great way to introduce your child to the concept of using rules when a friend comes over and to teach him how to be polite to guests," Diamond says. Discuss ahead of time any situation that could be uncomfortable. "Write a plan beforehand. Go over all the different things the kids can do together, and then have your kid offer his guest three activities to pick from. Have them take turns picking activities from there, to avoid fights and to help teach compromise," Diamond says. "Talk about what you think will happen, what could possibly happen. You can even role-play and practice greetings and manners. If it's necessary, write a script to help reduce your child's stress."
To enhance your child's social development further, Lawrence Balter, Ph.D., child psychologist and parenting expert, suggests the four strategies below.
Teach empathy: Run through different scenarios by asking your child how other people might feel when certain things happen, and substitute different situations each time.
Explain personal space: Tell your child that it's important for everyone to have some personal space to feel comfortable, and practice acceptable ways to interact with someone during playtime.
Practice social overtures: Teach kids the proper way to start a conversation, get someone's attention, or join a group of kids who are already playing together. These are all situations that can be discussed and brainstormed at the dinner table, or in the car on the way to school or activities.
Go over taking turns: Sit with your child for at least an hour a day and play with him to explain what it means to wait, take turns, and share.
Reinforcing Specific Social Skills
Activities and games can provide additional help in developing specific skills, and you can reinforce your child's social development and interaction by playing The Name Game and Follow the Leader. Researchers Sandra Sandy and Kathleen Cochran developed The Name Game to help young children learn the importance of getting someone's attention before speaking. Have kids sit in a circle and give one kid a ball. Ask him to name another child in the circle, and roll the ball to that child. The recipient then takes his turn, naming another child and rolling the ball, and so on. The classic Follow the Leader game teaches kids about taking turns and practicing patience. Designate either yourself or your child as the leader, and have the follower(s) mimic the leader's actions.
Dr. Diamond recommends these other activities for recognizing particular social cues:
For nonverbal skills: Help kids recognize facial expressions and body language by watching kid-friendly TV shows with the sound off and observe what characters are doing and what certain movements might mean. (Just make sure to follow the media guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which suggests that kids watch TV for a maximum of two hours a day.) "Predict what you think they're saying, and really start [observing] facial gestures," Diamond says. "You can also look through magazines and make collages with different facial expressions, and talk about what the people in those photos might be saying."
For tone: To help kids differentiate a range of tones, "use a tape recorder and record different emotions in your voice and ask your child what they are, then explain how meaning changes with voice change," Diamond recommends. For example, try recording phrases like "I'm angry!" in a loud, empathic voice, and "I feel so sad" in a soft, low, dejected voice.
For attention span If your child has trouble staying on point, pick a topic and say three sentences -- two related to the topic and one random. Then ask your child to pick the sentence that's off-topic. For example, bring up the family dog. Talk about how long he played outside today and what he did at the dog park, and then say something about the weather. Ask your kid to differentiate between the different sentences. "Also, at the dinner table, have your kid keep track of how many times the topic changes during dinner," Diamond suggests.
There are plenty of good apps available that reinforce social skills. "Model Me Going Places" allows kids to look at photos of other children modeling appropriate behavior in certain situations (the hairdresser, doctor, playground), "Responding Social Skills" teaches kids how to respond to others and how to understand others' feelings, and "Small Talk" presents conversation fillers for awkward social moments. But if your child still seems to have difficulty keeping up with the skills she should be developing for her age group, it may be time to give her a little help. "Some children have problems with impulse control and self regulation; some have a problem with processing information," Dr. Balter says. "These issues can lead to [kids] having awkward interactions with peers." So if social issues cause your child fear or make him feel isolated, seek help from your pediatrician or another child expert, such as a therapist.
Source - ParentsRead more
An education expert offers a surprising way for parents to help that will do more than improve their child's writing skills.
Writing skills don’t come naturally. It is a bigger struggle for many children even if they are good readers. You know, it’s interesting that here in California — and my read of studies from around the country suggests that this is relatively consistent — we find across the board, whether students are doing pretty well or not so well, that they’re usually doing better in reading than they are in writing. So we find that this is kind of a generic issue. That in general, our students, our young people are not writing as well as they should be or could be.
Parents often think there is not much they can do to help their older kids except keep on them to finish the paper — or do it for them. But the answer very much mirrors the answer about how to address reading issues: it’s a combination of excellent instruction and age-appropriate practice — and lots of it.
A strategy and process
For example, say you have a student who is in middle school, and they have to do a report on some famous person in American history in their eighth grade U.S. history class. It’s important that they have a strategy for how to gather information, how to organize that information, how to execute a rough draft, how to edit that draft. There’s got to be a step-by-step process, and it’s got to be taught and supported.
So what can parents do? Really, a couple of things. One is to partner with the schools, to make sure that we understand what the expectations are in writing, and to break the expectations down [into specific skills]. So, for example, it’s really helpful, if the school’s not requiring it, to support your kids by [providing] an assignment calendar where they see: Oh, this major report, an eighth grade biography report, for example, is due in three weeks. We then help them come up with an outline by the end of week one.
It doesn’t mean that we have to necessarily be doing it with them, but just orienting them. “Make sure that you have this outline by the end of week one. Make sure that you’ve gathered research on these eight topics (about the person’s educational background, their contributions, their politics, whatever the elements are).”
Monitoring and supporting
So, breaking it into manageable parts and then monitoring and supporting the kids to accomplish the parts. Not waiting until two nights before and then having the parent write the whole thing, which is what we find typically happens. Either the kids don’t do it, or they do it poorly, or the parents wind up stepping in and writing it for them. And so it’s really a matter of understanding what the requirement is, helping our students break it into manageable parts, and then working with the schools to make sure that they’re being taught strategies for how to accomplish these parts.
In sum, it’s very similar to learning to read.
We have to really look and analyze what needs to be taught. What are the expectations? What are the standards?
Then separate it into manageable pieces.
Then give them lots and lots of instruction and lots of practice.
Organization skills and work habits
So parents are really helping their kids with a lot of their work habits and their organizational skills. And that’s something that I think is very appropriate for parents to do. We’ve been doing that with our seventh grade son, and at first there’s quite a lot of resistance. You know, it’s, “Get out that assignment calendar. Okay, what’s due?” And I show Max, my son, my calendar and say, “Hey, this is exactly how I’ve managed my time at work.” I get a lot of grumbling, but I think over time we back out. We monitor or we do less and less as he shows us that he’s really taking responsibility for it.
But earlier in the year, I was monitoring it every night. When he came home, I wanted to see what the new assignments were for that day. Did he have them? Of course, at first he would say, “Oh, nothing, Dad.” So I’d say, “I don’t know about that.” And we would call up one of the neighbor kids in his class and say, “How about that science report?” “Oh Gosh, Dad, I forgot about that.” So it’s two parts: It’s modeling — such as modeling with your own calendar — and then monitoring.
A big part of it is supervising the use of these skills, as well as reading and writing and math, at home.
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