The school year is off to a great start and your family is settling into the new school year’s rhythm. You are communicating with your child’s teacher so you understand what your child is learning in school. It is only the beginning of the year but a good start is half the battle. How can you help your child succeed in school?
The good news is that learning does not have to start and end in the classroom! Reinforcing classroom procedures and expectations at home will allow the child to focus more on classroom work in the classroom, and therefore lead to higher levels of knowledge and skills. Another great reason to continue your child’s education at home is to refine the skills learned in the classroom.
In this article, we will be sharing activities that will help you help your child succeed in school. Each month, a new activity will be added to the list. Some activities simply need your imagination and love for your child while others will need a few materials that most households already have. We hope this helps you help your child at home and at school! Feel free to give us feedback and comment if it worked for you!
Activity #1: “Can You Top This?”
In this activity, you need your imagination. Here is what to do:
Begin by deciding on a topic, such as pirates.
Say the first sentence: “Once upon a time, a pirate lived in…”
Continue taking turns with your child making up and telling parts of the story until you decide to end it—-may be after eight or ten sentences.
As you make up more and more stories, your child will begin to understand what it means to wait their turn. Listening is also a big part of this activity. If you do not listen to the sentence before, you will not know how to continue the story. After completing a story, you can discuss what it means to listen and wait for your turn with your child. Have fun creating new stories and topping the previous story!
Activity #2: Listen!
The second skill that will help children be successful in school is to be able to listen carefully. Listening to and giving directions helps your child follow directions, interpret what others are saying, and practice speaking skills!
Here are a few engaging activities to do with your child to show the importance of listening:
Hide a small object. Give your child directions to find it such as, “Take five steps straight ahead. Turn right. Keep the lamp to your left. Bend down and look to the right.” Next, have your child hide the object and give you directions to find it.
Clap your hands to tap out a rhythm. Have your child listen and then clap that same rhythm back to you. Make the rhythms harder as he catches on.
Take a walk with your child. Find a place to sit for a few minutes and both close your eyes for 30 seconds or so. Tell each other what you hear: an airplane, a bird singing, cars on the street, leaves rustling.
Put on your listening ears and have fun!
Activity #3: Label That!
Young children learn language by learning the names of things. They are constantly asking “What is that?” wanting to assign a name, and thus meaning, to the objects in their world. This activity allows you to practice labeling at home! It is easy and very simple!
Things you need:
5-10 household items
For the activity:
You can write the labels of the objects on index cards
Have your child arrange the objects on a table
Let your child pick an index card and label accordingly
If your child is learning to read, have your child sound out the words phonetically.
Have fun labeling!
Activity #4: Let’s Read!
Reading is the single most important way for your child to develop the knowledge needed to become successful in school. When reading is introduced and given priority in family life, parents send their children the message that reading is important, enjoyable and a great way to learn!
Things you need:
Books in the level of your child’s ability
What to do:
Read with your child. Take turns, with you reading one page or paragraph and your child reading the next.
You might also read the parts of different characters in a story. Be enthusiastic about reading. Read the story with expression. Make it more interesting by talking as the characters would talk, making sound effects and using facial expressions and gestures. Encourage your child to do the same.
For older children, have them read a chapter of their favorite book and summarize what is happening to you. Showing your child that you are interested in what they are reading will give them encouragement to want to share more!
Let’s grab a book and get lost in imagination and wonder!
Activity #5: My Time Line
The end of the year is coming up quick! What better way to end the year than with a time of reflection? Involve your children and make a time line of your 2019 events! Making and reading time lines help children to learn about the flow of history and to develop an understanding of cause and effect.
Things you need:
Construction Paper Yardstick Pencils, makers or crayons
What to do:
Tape multiple sheets of construction paper together to create the base of the timeline. Have your child use a ruler or yardstick to draw a straight line on the paper about 3 feet long.
Talk with your child about important dates in his/her life—the day she was born; her first day of kindergarten, of first grade; the day his best friend moved in next door; and so forth. Tell her to write the dates on the line. Invite him to add dates that are important for the whole family—the day his baby brother was born, the day her favorite aunt got married—and the dates of any important historical events.
Display the finished time line and ask your child to tell other family members and friends what it shows.
You can help your child use events in his/her own life to gain both a sense of time and to understand the order in which things happen.
Activity #6: “Time Flies!”
Planning time is one of the most useful things that your child can learn.As we begin a new year, what better way to start the year than with a time activity? Together with your child you can create estimates on how long certain morning and daily routines last. This is a great interactive activity to do with your children to develop responsibility and the importance of being on time.
Things you need:
Paper and pencil
What to do:
Together with your child, write down estimates of how long it takes each of you to do certain tasks (such as getting ready for school or work in the morning; ironing a blouse; making toast). Use a clock to time at least one of these tasks. Then take turns timing each other. (Be realistic—it’s not a race.)
Talk with your child about what part of a job can be done ahead of time, such as deciding at bedtime what to wear to school the next day.
Talk about at least two places that you and your child go where you must be on time. What do you do to make sure you are on time?
Explain to your child that being on time or not being on time affects other people as well. It is important for children to understand their responsibility for being on time—it’s not just for grown-ups.