Here are the four most important questions to ask about reading success (just in time for conferences)

the 4 stages of succcessful reading

Reading is much more than reciting words that one sees on paper. Even before a reader achieves phonemic awareness and phonics, he’s learning to comprehend, understand, internalize and make connections. These are the essential stages necessary to teach kids to read, and to reach success in reading. How can parents help? By reading with children and encouraging reading and discussion time. And by recognizing the most four most important reading questions to ask themselves and their child's … [Read more...]

7 Journal Prompts to inspire writing with details

7 journal prompts to get kids writing with details

I've probably always been a writer. It came naturally for me. Others, though, have a lot more difficulty finding the right words and placing them on paper. Some find it difficult, frustrating and intimidating. Either way, even when it's difficult, writing can be one of the most rewarding areas of learning for children and encouraging writing practice on a consistent basis will help children to become stronger, more confident writers. Below are writing prompts to help inspire children to write … [Read more...]

Basic Reading Skills: Games to expand a child’s phonological awareness

easy games you can play to teach your kids basic reading skills

Even in grad school, I continued to confuse the emergent literacy terms phonics, phonemic awareness and phonological awareness, so it's difficult to imagine a Kindergarten parent without training in education having a strong grasp on what teachers and reading specialists are working with their children to understand. Therefore, it's probably even more difficult for a parent to gather ideas on how to make the learning process fun for her beginning reader. I'll try to break down the differences … [Read more...]

Help kids journal 100% better with these strategies

tips and strategies for journaling with kids. This post has lots of ideas, journal topics, journal prompts and suggestions to get kids to write in their journals

Until high school, I never had a teacher set aside time to journal. I kept a diary (just like every other 10 year old girl) who shared her inner-most thoughts “Jason was so cute today! He wore an aqua colored polo shirt” and “Sally Green is such a square peg. I learned that term when my dad and I watched a tv show tonight. She has warts!” Yes, sigh. I’m quoting myself. I really did write these deep thoughts in my diary.     In ninth grade, I signed up for a creative … [Read more...]

Homework help for parents who are tired of the stress

homework help -- take a break to make the homework hour less stressful. Here are some ideas for quick breaks

It’s hard to sit for a half hour. Really hard. Especially when there are distractions everywhere. So why are parents, and, sometimes, teachers, insisting students sit for a longer period of time while completing homework?   High school and middle school classes are, usually, about 50 minutes a day, often less, sometimes more. Elementary classes rarely top 20 minutes of sitting and focusing. So when homework for a 9 year old takes 40 minutes, how can we, as parents, help our … [Read more...]

The Scientific Process: How to plan your science fair project

The Scientific Process -- how to plan an elementary school science fair project for kids

Science fairs used to be a classroom or school activity, but they're now popping up publicly and privately -- everywhere from County science fairs to international contests for kids. And they're no longer just for the "big kids" in middle and high schools, science fair projects start as young as kindergarten. These projects can be as simple or as difficult as a child allows them to be and it's often surprising that some of the most simple topics can become incredible projects. While each science … [Read more...]

5 Classics to read with your kids

classic books to read with your kids

I love taking my kids to the bookstore or library. There are so many shiny new choices out there for kids to get excited about! But just as exciting as Percy Jackson, Harry Potter and Captain Underpants, are the books that made me fall in love with reading. Take the time to share some of your classic favorites with your kids and help them see what made you fall in love with reading. Classic Chapter Books to Read with Your Kids Stuart Little When I first introduced my kids to the adventures … [Read more...]

Why wordless? The educational value of wordless books

Why are wordless books so important for reading and child development? Never discount the importance of wordless books in childhood. Through wordless books, children learn the art of storytelling and unique thoughts as well as necessary pre-reading skills. Plus 9 must-have picture books for your library

Growing up, my mom and I ventured to the local library at least once a week. It was a tiny, two story building with the children’s books and story hour hidden upstairs. These were the days before people set up workstations at small libraries. Little research was done at this one. It was, simply, a lending library. I recall the moms shushing their children. I’d like to think that I was as difficult to settle into quietness at this tiny library as my kids were, when they were also of the … [Read more...]

5 effortless ways to teach kids to describe

how to teach kids to describe use adjectives

Wouldn't it be easy if we all knew exactly what someone else is talking about? But, it's not and, therefore, learning to use adjectives isn't just a skill kids need for school and writing, but also for conversation and life. Here are 5 easy ways to teach your kids to describe. Use describing words in your conversation Don’t just say “Over there, to your right, see it?” As an adult, you need to model the desired behavior, so make sure you’re describing with more than the basic words. Give … [Read more...]

Midyear transition to a new teacher leads to valuable life lessons

how getting a new teacher will help your child in school and life

This article originally appeared on Rusty and Rosy's blog. It's been edited with updates to help parents, students, teachers and administrators who are struggling with transitions to new teachers, often long-term substitutes, mid-year.   On a gloomy Wednesday, we received that dreaded letter that was never expected. Our 4th grade long term substitute would soon be leaving, as her contracted counterpart had opted to come back to school, early. Parents were angered (in August, we … [Read more...]