cell phones, children, computer, First Grade, ipad, Kindergarten, Kindergarten activities, parenting, parents, preschool, responsibility in children, school, teachers, technology, time management

IPads, IPhones, and Computers…Oh, My!

Post 74

This is such a volatile topic, I am almost afraid to approach it. Your children are surrounded by tech every day. How much of it is “good”, how much is “bad”, should any type of screen time be limited, if so when, where, and on and on……

First of all, tech is a part of their lives. Whether, as a parent, you like it or not, it’s there. Think about it. Most 4,5,and 6 year olds don’t even know what a landline is. They’re growing up in a era when everyone uses cell phones. (Quick note….in school I sometimes pretend to “call” a parent when a child is upset so that so that his/her parent, caretaker can “tell” me he/she should remain in school and that everything will be all right. Now I have to use my cell phone and half the time the child wants to video chat with his/her mom/dad! Gotta think fast when that happens!) IPads and laptops are just a part of life for them. Computers are used in schools as a learning tool as are frequently some form of hand held electronic device. And they’re great. Lessons and reinforcement activities can be streamed and modified for each particular student. The same can be said at home. Especially as your child gets older, he/she will be using online resources to enhance (not replace, that’s important) classroom instruction.

All that’s well and good. No problem. The worry comes when your child wants to spend all or a good part of his/her free time online instead of in face to face interaction with family and friends. Also, technology can become a very convenient babysitter where screen time can suddenly extend to 2 or 3 hours. What, as a parent, should you do? Your child is growing up in a technological era. You don’t want him/her left behind. It’s part of his/her world. But you also want your little one to go out and play!

I think it’s sort of like when TV’s were first introduced. Way back then, there was the fear that children would sit in front of them all day. The same was true for Atari, Nintendo, and all the video games right up to Fortnite. None of this is inherently “bad” for a child. I feel they actually help with reflex time, increase imagination, and, in the case of Fortnite, encourage interaction with other players. But, like anything else, screen time needs to be limited. And that’s the problem. How do you do that? By starting now….while your child is young. If you limit times to go on the iPad and encourage the use of certain games, you will set a pattern that your child will respect and be used to as he/she gets older. It will just be a part of life. It will be an accepted routine. And even if your child objects, he/she wants routines and limits. They are a form of reassurance. They help make a child’s world safe and orderly. They also show you care or you wouldn’t bother to enforce them. Will there be times when your son/daughter will be on the iPad longer? Of course. It happens. Give and take is important. But, in general, set up a routine and stick to it.

I would really like your thoughts on this topic. Please comment below or message me about it. Thanks!  🙂

Take Care.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard
children, First Grade, homework, Kindergarten, parenting, parents, preschool, school, teachers, time management

Homework

Post 73

Homework in Kindergarten? Yes, your child will have and probably has brought home some things to do.  (This probably doesn’t apply to preschool.) Usually it will be something that reemphasizes what is being taught in the classroom. As teachers, that’s what we try to do. Right now, it’s probably some fun coloring sheets or a project that is theme based. The idea is to get your child used to doing school work at home and to make it a pleasant experience.

What I would like to emphasize in this post is that if you start your child doing homework the way you would like him/her to handle it all through school, you will save both of you a lot of grief further down the road. By that I mean if you can get your child into the habit of sitting down right away after school at a particular place, it will set the tone for his/her whole school career. This can be at a desk or even the kitchen table. The main idea is that your little one gets into the mindset that this is something he/she does right after school. The other important thing is to make sure all materials (pencils, erasers, crayons, scissors, glue, etc.) are easily accessible. Nothing is more distracting  than having to scrounge around for supplies.

Why? Because as children get older, the work increases. If it is already an established routine for your child to do his/her homework when he/she is freshest he/she will do his/her best work in the shortest amount of time. And it will make the homework experience a lot more pleasant for both of you.  🙂

All that being said…..yes, there will be days that dance, soccer, karate, etc. are right after school and homework can’t be done until later. That’s ok. It will happen. But if you have a routine established for most days, that won’t really upset it. The point is to establish a good homework practice now that will set the tone for future grades. Trust me…..you, and your child, will appreciate it later on!

Any thoughts?

Take Care.  🙂

For more information on this topic, please check out posts #9, #19, #20.  🙂

Standard
children, First Grade, Halloween, holidays, Kindergarten, Kindergarten activities, parenting, parents, preschool, school, teachers

Halloween

Post 72

Halloween is coming and will probably be the first real celebration your child will have in school. It’s a lot of fun and I strongly encourage you to be there if you are invited. But there are some questions that may come up.

First of all, what type of party is your child’s class having? Some schools have adopted the idea of having the children dress up as their favorite literary character. If that’s the case, go for it! Let your son, daughter go through his/her books and find one that he/she likes. Then get as close as possible to copying that character’s clothes, hat, accessories, etc. Sounds self evident, right? Not always! Sometimes making a Dogman or Pinkalicious costume can seem daunting. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect! Your son/daughter will be thrilled if his/her costume is basically the same color as the character’s. And teachers do not judge you by your costume making skills! It’s the idea that everyone participates and helps bring reading alive. That’s what’s important.

If, on the other hand, your child’s class is having a traditional party, that’s great! Again, there are a couple of things to be mindful of. First of all, if he/she is encouraged to wear a mask, please make sure your son/daughter can see through it! We don’t want anyone tripping and falling on Halloween! Secondly, if accessories are involved, please make sure they won’t cause problems in a school setting. (think swords, bats, etc.) Also, make sure to send in a bag for them to go in during the day so nothing gets lost. Thirdly, if your Kindergartener’s (Preschooler’s, First Grader’s) costume is very special to you, or you don’t want it possibly torn for later in the day, consider sending him/her in another costume that’s just for school. Or maybe send in clothes for him/her to change into if the parade/party is early in the day. (Make sure they are ones your child can handle by him/herself.) Again, a bag to put the costume in is a good idea. Backpacks tend to get filled with party treasures.

Lastly, enjoy this first “event” in your little one’s school “career”. Even if you can’t attend, make sure you ask about it so you can be there vicariously. Have fun and Happy Halloween!

Take Care.  🙂

 

Standard
children, children's feelings, empathetic children, First Grade, Kindergarten, new school year, parenting, parents, responsibility in children, school, school readiness, teachers, unkind words

Getting Used To It All

Post 71

Your child has now been in school at least six weeks. He/she has spent that time mainly getting used to routines….getting up in the morning, getting out of the house, making the bus on time (mostly), coming home, eating snack, having dinner and going to bed at a decent hour (most of the time), then getting up and doing it the next day all over again. That’s homelife. And, basically, that’s what your child has been doing in school, too….getting used to routines. He/she has had to learn to get off the bus, line up, go into a classroom, unpack, listen to a teacher, sit in circle, share, go to specials, eat in a cafeteria, get back on the bus, get off at the right stop, and do it all over again the next day. It’s a lot but, for the most part, students “get it” and adjust well.

Right now, besides the above mentioned classroom routines, Kindergarten teachers are trying to teach their students how to behave in a class that is probably about twice the size of a preschool one. It’s hard for a five-year-old to understand that there are other children in the room who deserve as much attention as they do. They have probably been in a setting where the teacher/student ratio was higher. Or, if they didn’t attend preschool, they definitely had someone’s undivided attention! So it’s very difficult to learn to wait their turn. This is seen in a lot of shouting out instead of waiting to be called upon in the classroom. The idea of having to be given a turn to share an idea or thought can be very odd to a child. He/she may interpret it as the teacher not liking him/her or being “mean”. Or he/she may shut down a bit and not try to answer in class.

What can you, as a parent, do to help your child understand that his/her thoughts are important…. teachers want to hear them (we really do!) but he/she has to wait for his/her turn to speak?  Model (look at the last post 🙂 ) it at home. When you are talking and your son/daughter interrupts, ask him/her to wait until you finish your thought. Then give him/her your complete attention and really listen to what he/she has to say. I have found that holding a child’s hand while finishing talking is a good way to help a young student understand that you are not ignoring him/her. It shows you are aware he/she wants to speak and is waiting patiently.  That can be modeled the same way at home. You could hold your child’s hand, put an arm on his/her shoulder, sit him/her on your lap….whatever signal would work to convey the thought wait until I’m finished then I’ll give you my full attention. It’s a hard but necessary lesson your little one needs to learn. And the best person to help him/her learn it is you, his/her parent.

As always, if you have any other strategies that you’d like to share, please do so in the comments. (Also, FYI, this post was written at the request of a Kindergarten teacher who has five or six children who constantly shout out in class. She wants them to share ideas and enjoy school while letting their classmates have a turn, too.  🙂  )

Take Care.  🙂

Standard
children, First Grade, Kindergarten, kindergarten words, parenting, parents, preschool, school, teachers, young students

Modeling

post 70

Modeling??? No, I don’t mean the kind that is done for a magazine! In this post, I am talking about giving your child concrete examples of how to act in certain situations. This can be applied to both social and academic ones.

For example, let’s say your child is having trouble making friends at school. He/she is rather shy and doesn’t feel comfortable around children he/she is just meeting. Honestly, I think that is normal for everyone. It’s just the degree of uncomfortableness (is that a word?) and how it’s handled that is different in each case. The normal thing would be to say something like, “Go up to another child and ask him/her to play.” That’s fine. But how about giving your little one the actual words to use? How about, “Go up to Joey and say, ‘We both really like Spiderman so let’s pretend we are swinging from webs.’ ” See what I mean? You are actually scripting what your child would say. You’re not trying to micromanage. You’re trying to give your child a boost with something he/she finds hard to do. Another example would be to tell your son/daughter, “Ask Amelia, ‘Would you like  to look at my book about dinosaurs?’ ” Again, you are giving your child the actual words to use.

Maybe your child doesn’t know something basic such as to smile when going up to a new friend. Remind him/her of that. It seems such a normal thing but 4,5, and 6 year olds don’t always know basics yet. You might also suggest he/she share a toy with another student and say, “Would you like to play with me?” In Kindergarten, we talk about being a good friend and brainstorm words to use to do that. And that’s exactly what you are doing with your child when you model these situations. Even suggesting that your son/daughter help another student during clean up time, “Let me help you do that”, is a way to give your child the support he/she needs socially.

This same concept can be applied to academics. If you know your child is having trouble sounding out words you can obviously write to the teacher and ask for help for him/her. You could also have him/her say during Guided Reading time, “I couldn’t figure out this word. Can you show me how to do it?” (This is even more applicable when your child gets older and needs to understand what he/she did wrong on a test. He/she could bring the test to the teacher and ask him/her to explain the mistakes. But that’s a few years from now!)

The point is to give your little one the words to use to help him/her over rough spots. This type of modeling is just one step further than I’m sure  you are already going when trying to help your preschooler, kindergartener, or first grader. You are the first one your child goes to when he/she has a problem. This is just another “tool” for your “help my child toolbox”.

Take Care.   🙂

If you have an example of how you’ve helped your child in a social or academic situation that you’d like to share, please post it in the comments below. Thanks 

Standard
children, First Grade, Kindergarten, Kindergarten testing, new school year, parenting, parents, preschool, school, school testing, school tests, teachers, testing

Testing

Post 69

Somewhere in the last month or coming up shortly, your child’s teacher will probably be doing some baseline testing. That means trying to find out where each student in the class is academically. It’s not a reflection on your child, just a way for the teacher to know where to start with each one and the class as a whole in reading, etc.

But what if your child’s teacher mentions something to you that has come up in the course of the testing? If it’s academic, such as, “Your son/daughter doesn’t know the difference between letters and numbers. Maybe you could reinforce it by….”, follow the suggestion. That’s pretty obvious. But what if it is a little more vague? A comment such as, “I noticed your son/daughter couldn’t sit still long enough to complete the page in one sitting”. That can be upsetting and lead you to start worrying about hyperactivity, focusing problems, etc. What should you do, if anything?

First of all, think about your child at home. Can he/she focus on a project  or story and stay in one place long enough to complete it? Remember, that length of time varies with age. Maybe a 4 year old has only a 10 minute attention span where a Kindergartener should be able to sit for 15 minutes at this time of year. (It increases as the year goes on.)

The other thing I would strongly encourage you to do is to talk to your child’s teacher. So many parents are afraid to be “that parent” and bother the teacher, especially at the beginning of the school year. No teacher ever minds talking to a parent who is concerned about his/her child. That’s what we are here for! Also, remember, as an educator, we are obligated to let parents know anything we may observe in a student that could affect his/her academically. Before you get overly worried, find out if this seemed serious or if it was just something that occurred during the testing situation and is no big deal. That way you can either catch a possible problem early or relax and realize all is well. Either way, find out exactly what was observed before you react.

In the end, you know your child the best. If a comment seems strange, ask! There’s no point in worrying or waiting until conferences to find out what’s going on. Better to straighten it out now.

 For more on this topic, please refer to Post #27 (Fear of Testing). I would also recommend reading Post #6 (Regression). It doesn’t deal with today’s topic but is very applicable to children in Preschool, Kindergarten, and First Grade at this time of year.

Take Care.  🙂

 

Standard
children, First Grade, Kindergarten, naps, new school year, parenting, parents, preschool, school, teachers

Naps

Post 68

I’ve heard a number of comments in the last few weeks about resting in school and how tired students are after school so I’d like to address those topics today. First of all, most children are usually very tired initially after being in school. This may take the form of everything from falling asleep in the car or bus on the way home, not wanting to discuss school, and even being cranky and uncooperative. You may be thinking to yourself, “What happened? Where is that sweet child who lived here all summer?” Don’t worry. It’s so normal! Think about it. Students are supposed to follow the rules in school and most children really try to. As a result, they hold a lot in during the day and have to let it out somewhere after school. Unfortunately, that’s usually when they are with you and you bear the brunt of it. But, the good news is, they will adjust and you will get your normal child back again. I promise.  🙂

In First Grade, rest may just be some quiet time after outdoor recess. It may also involve some free reading time. By now, your child has been in school for a year and will probably be fine with that.

In Kindergarten, rest time is usually a bit more. At this time of year, it can often mean putting heads down after drinks and outdoor play. This may be for 10 – 20 minutes or so. It gives the children a mental and physical break. (I’ve often commented during this time, “I wish someone would tell me to rest” when students complain. Invariably some kind soul says, “Rest, Mrs. Dunn. Put your head down.” LOL)

In Preschool, it often depends on the length of the day. During most half day sessions, there isn’t rest time. There is no time for it. For longer school days, those that go approximately from 9AM – 3AM, there can be a nap-time that lasts about 45 min. – 1 hour. Most require children to be quiet during that time. Often soothing music will be played. Children may be allowed to cuddle with a toy from home. In schools with longer hours, nap-time may last longer, up to 2 hours.

The question in longer nap-time situations is what does the staff do with children who do not nap or have not napped since they were maybe 2 years old? That’s a hard one. I would give the teacher a couple of weeks to figure out who is really not a napper. If your child hasn’t napped for a few years, I would let the staff know. Chances are, they have made arrangements for that. Some schools let non-sleepers look quietly at books, listen to music or stories through headphones, or move those children to another room. You might also offer to send in a quiet activity to keep your child occupied. It depends on the school. If it becomes a problem, I would really recommend that you set up a time to meet with your child’s teacher to discuss the situation. You know your child the best and are his/her prime advocate.  And teachers really want the best for their students and for them to benefit from their school experience. Together you can work out a solution for your particular child.

Please post any comments or solutions that you have come up with for your child’s rest-time in the comments. We can all benefit from them. Thanks!

Take Care.  🙂

Standard