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Well, here we are…..at home learning. This is a perfect place to address your questions, I'll be updating it frequently!
< my last day in my classroom after 15 years of teaching >
FAQs About Home Learning
Ok guys, class is in session. KIDDING. Let's be honest…..this whole at home learning / distance learning has brought up a LOT of questions. For all of us. Myself included. It's taken a little time to get a rhythm down and to figure out what the flow of our day looks like. But now that we've got a daily routine in place, things are going pretty well. I wanted to answer some of the questions I've been getting, and will add more as they come!
Should I TELL My Child How to Spell Words During Writing Assignments? Ok guys. I got this question a LOT. And I think it's important to address. This is a super common issue (especially for younger kids who are learning to write still like Kindergarten or First Graders). They're so worried about writing PERFECTLY that they (and we) don't see the forest for the trees. What is the point of writing? It's to WRITE. To go through the writing process. To put ideas on paper. To express a story. There are many developmental stages of writing. Spelling perfectly (aka dictionary spelling) is not a huge priority until the upper grades. So should you tell them how to spell a word? In my opinion? Nope. Remind your child that it's important to just write the sounds they hear.
How Do I Get My Child to Read On Their Own? Let's talk about independent reading. As in, your child dives into a book and reads on their own. Yes, most kids can do this (I'd say even as early as age three) if we have appropriate expectations. Timewise? Start short. Five to ten minutes. Once you've got a routine in place that works you can go longer. Now we talk materials. From Princess Books for Disney Fans to Interactive Books for preschoolers…..the materials you have on hand are a HUGE part of making the independent reading time successful. Kids need books they CAN and WANT to read. My suggestion? Talk to your child's teacher about what their independent reading level is (or you can use the assessment in Reading Eggs to determine it). Then make sure you have books AT that level (you can check out some of Lydia's favorite books for independent reading here).
How Do I Help My Child Memorize Sight Words? Ok let's talk about Sight Words. Rainbow Words. Dolch Words. If you've got a Kindergarten or First Grade student, chances are…..you were told to use this at home learning time to help them memorize their sight words. Cringe, right? Are you envisioning hours of flash cards? I promise, it doesn't have to be THAT bad. My suggestion for ways to practice sight words? Play games. This blog post have 17 of them.
What About Preparing for Kindergarten? Hot topic. I get questions about this every.single.day. First of all, we're living in a strange time. We don't know EXACTLY what school will look when it starts but we know it will start and that kindergartners will start school and that it's a big transition. My biggest piece of advice right now? It's about a positive view of school. Yes, basic skills are important (and I have a list of those HERE) but I'd start by TALKING about school. Play school a little everyday (you can use these workbooks we love or even an online reading program like Reading Eggs). Read with your child everyday. Make sure they can write their name.
How Can I Get My Child To Do Some Work On Their Own? One of the hardest parts of this whole at home learning thing? TRYING TO GET YOUR WORK DONE TOO. Right? Look guys, this is hard even in the classroom. Trying to get even a solid ten minutes to help a small group of kids can be tough. This is ALL about setting up parameters and a routine. Independent Learning CAN be done for about 30 – 45 minutes depending on age. The key? Materials they can complete on their own, a procedure for how to address questions, and something to do if they finish. Check out our blog post about how to implement independent learning for more tips!
Do I Tell My Kid What To Write? Ok, so your kid got a writing assignment (or you made one up). And now you're wondering……how much do you help them? Do you tell them what to write? Give them an outline? A general idea? In classrooms, we used an I Do, We Do, You Do model. What does that mean? I wrote a piece of writing in FRONT of the class. I brainstormed out loud. I wrote an actual piece in front of them. Then I told them they would write their own with THEIR ideas. My ideas were mine. But for the most part? Kids need a model still. Looking for writing prompts? These story starters are great and I love this daily journal!
Should I Be Using a Schedule? Let's discuss schedules and routines. Do you need a strict schedule at home? I certainly had one in the classroom. But this is different. We don't have dismissal bells, recess times, and a lunch break. My suggestion? I'd do a daily routine instead of a strict schedule (you can see our daily routine worksheet here). List your tasks, and check them off. Does a minute to minute schedule seem necessary? Probably not.
What About Prizes? At School they Had a Prize Basket! Let's talk motivation. Do you need to do big prizes every day? Probably not. Is some type of reward system a good idea? Even if they're just earning privileges? I think it helps. You can see our whole blog post about reward ideas for tips and tricks that are elementary school age appropriate!
There are like a million tools and online programs…..what are your top recommendations?
This is totally a matter of opinion. But programs that we use and love are:
Workbooks are all about HOW you implement. We've been LOVING Carson Dellosa's Disney Learning materials, they're very well made and Lydia loves seeing her favorite characters. It's great to have something on hand for in a pinch fun work!
How Often Does My Kid Need Breaks? He asks for a snack every 30 seconds!
Ha. Yes, they need breaks. Keep in mind, young kids can really only focus for 5-20 minutes depending on age. Short brain breaks will make a difference. Try Cosmic Kids Yoga, Go Noodle or dance party breaks.