What You Should Know

• The entrance and exit used by your child’s class.

• Please be on time for the beginning of the school session. This will help to develop the importance of school and your child’s habit of punctuality.

• Please be on time to pick up your child. Children who are forced to wait for a pick up become anxious and unhappy.

• Read all notices and bulletins that are sent home by the school. Promptly return those that require a signature.

• If your child is fearful about school, play a pretend game with him or her to bring some familiarity to a new situation.

• Listen to what your child has to say about school. Do not force the conversation but be attentive when your child is ready to share the experience.

• Praise the work your child brings home – display it proudly around your home.

• Encourage regular attendance when your child is well – help build a desire to want to go to school.

• Please call the school if your child is going to be absent and inform the nurse.

• Written excuses are required for all absences.

Services to Your Child

The school nurse is available throughout the school day for emergencies. In these cases they render first aid and afterwards the parent is expected to take the child to the family doctor, if necessary.

Child Study Team

The special services child study team, utilizing an interdisciplinary approach, identifies, evaluates and determines the eligibility of pupils for special education and related services. This team also develops and guides the implementation of individualized education programs.

Speech correction services are provided to students manifesting a disorder in language, articulation, voice or fluency, which requires individualized programming by a speech correctionist.

Early Elementary School Years

This group generally includes children five (5) to seven (7) years of age. At this stage, children are very perceptive and responsive to their environment, quickly acquiring and mastering skills in many areas. Since their learning is primarily by doing, touching, smelling, and hearing etc., they need experiences that require extensive use of their senses. Interestingly, children of this age group learn to solve problems long before they can explain solutions. The changes experienced in the physical, intellectual and social realms prepare them for developing self-identity and adapting to life outside the home – primarily the school.

Intellectual Development

During this stage, children continue to develop facility in language and increase their vocabularies. The child in kindergarten may be able to identify and write some letters and words, as well as recognize numbers and perhaps count in sequence. In addition, many can recognize and identify colors, shapes, and sizes. Young children learn most efficiently when they are actively involved in multi-sensory activities.

As children move throughout these elementary school years, they develop a better understanding of time, sequence and distance. For example, young children realize that Monday is at the beginning and Friday at the end of the school week.

Early elementary activities provide many opportunities for the child to organize order and investigate (weather charts; classroom job charts; cooking; and simple science experiments, such as growing plants, observing animals, etc.). The work is often very repetitive and oriented to the senses. Most children during these years feel comfortable when they know what to expect. Schedules and routines, such as reading time, clean up, lunch, and study time are designed to help children feel more secure in school. In addition, schoolwork emphasizes listening, following directions, recalling details, and initiating and completing projects.

Children moving through this developmental stage often demonstrate considerable interest in nature and science, e.g., plants, animals and space. The school curriculum is designed to promote these interests, as well as to provide needed practice and reinforcement in the basic skills of reading, math and writing.

Homework, if given, emphasizes the concepts and ideas presented in class, the further development of skills through practice and repetition, and the completion of easy projects. These assignments help the child acquire independence and a sense of success, accomplishment and responsibility. A typical homework assignment might include a practice sheet with mathematics problems for reinforcing certain concepts or a reading lesson from a library book.

Fears

Fears are very real to the early elementary school child and should be taken seriously and respected. Often this fear is of losing a parent and is most evident when the child enters school, but occasionally the fear is of rejection by other children.

Some children go through this period with minimal trauma; others act out through tantrums or withdrawal. Fears may also surface in aggressive behavior, silliness and even in the development of suspect headaches or stomachaches.

Teachers and parents must work together to find the source of the fears and to alleviate them.

By the time children reach the end of this stage of development, they may be showing more willingness to listen to others and to share ideas. Many can initiate, plan and complete projects. They may be sensitive about the reactions of others or afraid of criticism, and they usually respond best to indirect correction. They enjoy realistic, dramatic play, tall tales and humor.

Social and Emotional Development

Children in the early elementary school years experience many social and emotional changes. Generally, they begin this stage eager to carry out some responsibility. They have a strong sense of possession and do not like to share, but will do so in order to please adults. Since children tend to seek approval and praise from adults who are important to them, they will make an effort to please. Even at this young age, however, they can be sensitive to the concept that neither adults nor peers have to be pleased at the expense of personal values.

Moving closer to the end of this stage, children begin to form relationships with peers. They become more independent and better able to make choices and to complete simple projects. Some children may become assertive, aggressive, self-centered, demanding, competitive and boastful. This may be expressed in a wish to always be first in line or a demand to have the undivided attention of a parent or teacher.

Many school activities are designed to help children develop good social skills.

Teachers provide opportunities that require children to share or work cooperatively with peers in large and small groups. Acceptable behaviors may be rewarded with tokens, such as stars, special certificates, privileges or praise.

Physical Development

Between the ages of five (5) and eight (8), children experience many physical changes. They slowly gain control over both large and small muscles. In many cases, handedness may have been established. They usually run, jump, hop, climb, and even walk a straight line. They gradually are gaining independence in activities, such as eating, using the bathroom and dressing.

School activities, such as games, outdoor play, self-serve lunch, and putting on and taking off outerwear, help develop large muscles. Small muscle development and better coordination enables the children to perform some writing and perhaps tie shoes. Teachers encourage the children to handle writing instruments, crayons paint brushes, etc.

Upon entering school, many children come into contact with a group of other children for the first time. At the beginning of this stage, they are more susceptible to colds and childhood diseases and thus may frequently be absent from school. By the end of this stage, however, they develop better resistance.

The School Experience

For most of the school day, children are engaged in activities that develop language, build vocabulary, or develop the ability to recognize and manipulate numbers. Children are expected to listen, follow directions, recognize and use written symbols, and recall and evaluate information. School provides children with many opportunities to share or work cooperatively with others. Teams or groups may be formed to accomplish certain activities.

Homework

Homework emphasizes the reinforcement of concepts and ideas presented in class, the development of skills through practice and repetition, and the completion of easy projects. Find out from the teacher how often and how much homework to expect. Ask your child if there is work that needs to be done at home. It is important that you provide a quiet area, lighted and equipped for work. Be available for assistance, but be careful that you don’t become overly involved!

Parents Can Assist

There are many ways that you can be effective partners with the school. One strategy is to stay involved in school activities throughout all of your child’s school years, joining parent organizations, for example. But, helping your child master and reinforce some of the skills learned in school is an equally important strategy.

Arithmetic

Ask your child to identify numbers on displayed items when shopping. Older children can add the cost of items and even calculate change. If possible, give them an opportunity to purchase items. Demonstrate how to use ads and compare prices to provide practice in computing skills and problem solving.

• Allow your child to help prepare meals. This activity is a wonderful way to learn about measuring, following directions, and cause and effect.

• Make references to time within the context of your child’s own schedule. For example when it is time to get up say: “It is seven o’clock – time to get up.”

• A good way to teach children simple arithmetic is to build on their formal knowledge. This is why learning to count everyday objects is an effective basis for early arithmetic lessons.

Young children are comfortable with numbers “math anxiety” comes in later years. Just watching the enjoyment children get from songs and nursery rhymes that involve counting is ample evidence of their natural ease. These early counting activities can set the stage for later, more formal exposure to arithmetic.

Counting is not limited to merely reciting strings of numbers. It also includes matching numbers to objects and reaching totals (for example, counting the number of apples sitting on the table). Children learn to do arithmetic by first mastering different counting strategies, beginning with rote counting (1,2,3,4) and progressing to memorized computations (2x2=4). As children learn the facts of arithmetic, they also learn to rely less and less on counting.

When teachers begin by using children’s informal knowledge, then proceed to more complex operations, children learn more readily and enjoy it.

Language, Reading and Writing

• Read to your child daily – After reading, ask questions about the story. Give older children an opportunity to read to you and of course, let your child observe you reading for both information and pleasure.

• Visit the library with your child at least once a week, if possible. Help him or her to develop skills in using its resources.

• Talk to your child often. Speak clearly and slowly so that your child can learn correct pronunciation and practice listening skills. Urge your child to express a complete thought when speaking. For example, “See the dog run,” instead of “Dog run.”

• Listen with interest to what your child is saying. Look at your child when he or she is speaking, ask questions and encourage your child to express opinions.

• Keep magazines and newspapers in the home so that your child will become familiar with a variety of sources for reading pleasure, as well as information.

• Provide your child with models to build, e.g., cars, airplanes. In this way, your child can practice moving from abstract ideas to a concrete product.

• Encourage your child’s writing projects. List making concepts for organizing ideas; letter writing helps build communication skills; and making books of original stories and poems instills a sense of competency in young writers.

• Whenever possible, illustrate concepts, such as big/little, tall/short, narrow/wide, etc.

• When in doubt be positive! Besides supporting the schools through home activities that reinforce academic learning, parents can also act as partners with educators when they respond promptly.

Early Writing

Children who are encouraged to draw and scribble “stories” at an early age will later learn to compose more easily, more effectively, and with greater confidence than children who do not have this encouragement.

Toddlers, who can barely hold a crayon or pencil, are eager to “write” long before they acquire the skills in kindergarten that formally prepare them to read and write.

Studies of very young children show that their carefully formed scrawls have meaning to them, and that this writing actually helps them develop language skills. Research suggests that the best way to help children at this stage of their development as writers is to respond to the ideas that they are trying to express.

Very young children take the first steps toward writing by drawing and scribbling or, if they cannot use a pencil, they make use of plastic or metal letters on a felt or magnetic board. Some preschoolers may write on toy typewriters; others may dictate stories into a tape recorder or to an adult, who writes them down and reads them back. For this reason, it is best to focus on the intended meaning of what very young children write, rather than on the appearance of the writing.

Children become more effective writers when parents and teachers encourage them to choose the topics they write about, then leave them alone to exercise their own creativity. The industriousness of such children has prompted one researcher to comment that they “violate the child labor laws.”

Reading to Children

The best way for parents to help their children become better readers is to read to them – even when they are very young. Children benefit most from reading about when they discuss stories, learn to identify letters and words, and talk about the meaning of words.

The specific skills required for reading come from direct experience with written language. At home, as in school, the more reading the better.

Parents can encourage their children’s reading in many ways. Some tutor informally by pointing out letters and words on signs and containers. Others use more formal tools, such as workbooks. But children whose parents simply read to them perform as well as those parents who use workbooks or have had training in teaching.

The conversation that goes with reading aloud to children is as important as the reading itself. When parents ask children only superficial questions about stories, or don’t discuss the stories at all, their children do not achieve as well in reading as the children of parents who ask questions that require thinking and who relate the stories to everyday events. Kindergarten children who know a lot about written language usually have parents who believe that reading is important and who seize every opportunity to act on that conviction by reading to their children.

Speaking and Listening

A good foundation in speaking and listening helps children become better readers.

When children learn to read, they are making a transition from spoken to written language. Reading instruction builds on conversational skills; the better children are at using spoken language, the more successfully they will learn to read written language. To succeed at reading, children need a basic vocabulary, some knowledge of the world around them, and the ability to talk about what they know. These skills enable children to understand written material more readily.

Research shows a strong connection between reading and listening. A child who is listening well shows it by being able to retell stories and repeat instructions. Children who are good listeners in kindergarten and first grade are likely to become successful readers by the third grade. Good fifth grade listeners are likely to do well on aptitude and achievement tests in high school.

Parents and teachers need to engage children in thoughtful discussions on all subjects – current events, nature, sports, hobbies, machines, family life, and emotions – in short, on anything that interests children. Such discussions should not be limited to reading selections that are part of classwork.

Conversing with children about the world around them will help them reflect on past experiences and on what they will see, do and read about in the future.

Speaking English at school is especially important for children who have not grown up speaking English.

Independent Reading

Children improve their reading ability by reading a lot. Reading achievement is directly related to the amount of reading children do in school and outside.

Independent reading increases both vocabulary and reading fluency. Unlike using workbooks and performing computer drills, reading books gives children practice in the “whole act” of reading, that is, both in discovering the meanings of individual words and in grasping the meaning of an entire story. But American children do not spend much time reading independently at school or at home. In the average elementary school, for example, children spend just 7 – 8 minutes a day reading silently. At home, half of all fifth graders spend only 4 minutes a day reading. These same children spend an average of 130 minutes a day watching television.

Research shows that the amount of leisure time spent reading is directly related to children’s reading comprehension, the size of their vocabulary, and the gains in their reading ability. Clearly, reading at home can be a powerful supplement to classwork. Parents can encourage leisure reading by making books an important part of the home, by giving books or magazines as presents, and by encouraging visits to the local library.

Another key to promoting independent reading is making books easily available to children through classroom libraries. Children in classrooms that have libraries read more, have better attitudes about reading, and make greater gains in reading comprehension than children in classrooms without libraries.



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