BACK TO SCHOOL ADVICE <i>from a Kindergarten Teacher</i>
Summer is a hard time as a momma. I’m constantly trying to keep my kiddos engaged scholastically with their reading and math. I accosted Brooks’ kindergarten teacher and made her film this video with me to help all of you get your kiddos ready for back to school!
Hi there! My name is Jenny Morgan, and I am a K-12 teacher on the Westside of Los Angeles. I am honored to collaborate with Molly to bring you some tips, tricks and insights into keeping your children happily and scholastically engaged over the summer!
1. - READ, READ, READ with your kids! Trust me - this is the foundation of their learning. When they LOVE to read, they will LOVE to write and find new ways to engage in all sorts of exciting topics. If your child is hesitant to read by themselves, read with them! Make reading time a priority in your home. Let them know that reading is a life-long journey. They can fall in love with reading at ANY age!
If your child gets frustrated with reading, their book might not be a good fit. According to Scholastic, "Just-Right" books help your child find the right reading levels and make reading more fun. Have your child try the "five-finger test" to select a book at their reading level:
Have your child choose a book they would like to read.
Have your child look at a page in the middle.
Tell them to put one finger down for every word they can't read or don't understand. If they have five fingers down, they will need to try a different reading level.
If they have fewer than five fingers down, the book is "just right" and they can read it!
Your child may want to read more challenging books based on this test, and that's ok! Just make sure that these books are read aloud together so that you can be there to clarify or answer questions that they may have. You can partner read (each person takes a turn to read and provide feedback) and engage in the text together.
If you are a tech-savvy family, there are several incredible online programs to help support your emerging reader! RAZ Kids is a classroom favorite, which supports literacy in a new and exciting way. Children read books at their reading level and take quizzes to gauge comprehension. We limit screen time in our classroom, so use your best judgement and do what works best for your family.
You do not need to go out and purchase a load of books - that's what the public library is for! Take your kids on an adventure to find new favorite titles. The librarians can be super helpful to show you a selection of new books.
However, if you are interested in ramping up your home library, here is a helpful list of links to check out!
This is an EXCELLENT resource to find the right books for your kids! Yes - we teachers use this site to add to our own classroom library, so this is a great place to start. They even have budget-friendly best-seller sets!
Truly, one of my favorite sites to find fantastic (and FUN!) books for kids! They have leveled reading lists and new titles regularly!
A powerfully collaborative tool that was developed by parents and educators to grow lifelong readers.
2. Find their PASSIONS! Does your child love horses? Do they love science? Do they love to build and create? Help your child cultivate their passions through camps, classes, and workshops. Activity Hero helps parents discover nearby opportunities for your child!
If you can't commit to a camp, class or workshop, or if you want on-the-go learning at your fingertips, IXL is another fabulous K-12 online resource that focuses on Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies and Spanish! Children LOVE this one!
You can also research opportunities through your child's school or within your own community! Another fun idea is to connect with the families in your child's class to set up play dates and get togethers. In many cases, seeing friends from school over the summer eases children's thoughts about going back-to-school in the fall. Help them deepen their friendships with their classmates!
3. Develop open communication with your child's new teacher. Speaking of the fall and going back-to-school, once you know who your child's teacher will be, reach out to them! Say a quick hello and just introduce yourself (if you do not already know each other). A kind note from a new family always brings a smile to a teacher's face. Opening the lines of communication will let your child's teacher know that they can come to you throughout the school year. Let them know that you are open to receiving information about your child - good or not so good. Yes, we know your children are mostly perfect, but - SOMETIMES - we teachers have tricky information to share with you that you need to know. If we are aware that you are open to receiving ALL information, it makes it easier for us to pick up the phone to let you know what's going on with your child. We will do it - no matter what - but it is nice to know that you will be open to receiving the information!
Side note - Please understand that we teachers are human too, and we take your children's well-being home with us. We truly care about them and are on a team with you to support them! Should you have a question or concern, reach out to your child's teacher. Don't feel like you can't talk to us! We want to help in every way. Create a partnership and make the school year a success.
4. HAVE FUN! The BEST and most powerful way to learn over the summer is to HAVE FUN! Yes, I said it! Enjoy the time together as a family. Travel, cook, eat ice cream, swim, put your toes in the sand. Breathe the fresh air and look around you. Unplug. Be present. Take care of each other so that you can be fully rested and recharged for the new school year. Know that this special time goes by in the blink of an eye, so embrace the moments together. You will be so thankful that you did.
Alright, my friends...I'm off to enjoy a few more summer moments! Looking forward to seeing you again soon!
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I hope you loved this post from Ms. Morgan… she’s truly incredible! I’m going to have her on the blog one a month to help all you mommas out there with keeping your kiddos on track. If you have any questions for her or have suggestions for her next blog post, please leave them in the comments below!