Catching up in the home stretch

May 11, 2012 | Posted in: Early Learners, Elementary

With little more than a month left in the school year, kids are starting to realize summer is on the horizon. Before they check out completely, take time to check in on whether they’re at grade level academically. If they are lagging behind, there’s still plenty of time to buckle down and help them bolster their skills before the end of the year.

The best place to start is by asking your child’s teacher. If they’re not at grade level with reading and math, here are some simple tasks you can do with your early-elementary age child to help them finish kindergarten, 1st grade, or 2nd grade on grade-level:

Make reading a priority every day.

Ask your child’s teacher for suggestions of grade-level appropriate books that you can read together. Your child’s teacher may be able to send books home, or ask your local librarian for suggestions. Spend time reading with your child every evening for at least 15 to 20 minutes.

Start a word “treasure chest.”

As you read with your child, write in a notebook any unfamiliar words your child comes across. Help your child come up with a simple definition. Read the new words and definitions once a week to help retain this new vocabulary.

Foster your child’s imagination by writing stories together.

Ask your child to draw a picture and write a simple story about it. Use a trip to the park, running errands or a visit with relatives as the subjects of stories. By drawing on personal experiences, your child connects with their writing. Encourage them to use new words from the “treasure chest” list. Keep the stories in a binder or folder so they can remember things they’ve done and also see how their writing develops.

Practice counting backwards.

Counting forward and backward is a basic skill that ultimately makes simple addition and subtraction easier. Have your kindergartener practice counting forward and backward from 1 to 50. First graders can go up to 100, while second graders can count to 200.

Connect to 10.

Connecting to “10” helps a child know math facts more efficiently. Most children can easily count by 10’s, starting on 10 for 10, 20, 30. But practicing “off the decade” by tens is also helpful. Start at 4, for example, and add 10, for 4, 14, 24, etc. Do this type of counting both forward and backward.

For some students, the last few weeks of school are the time things start to click. A little practice and encouragement from you can help ensure they finish the school year at grade level, ready to move up.

Additional resources

Reading Rockets offers a rundown of accomplishments by grade. This link is to the kindergarten page, but you can search by relevant grade once you are on the site.

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