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During the first few years of a child’s life, the foundation for intellectual and moral growth is established. Children who don’t get essential nurturing are likely to be two or three steps behind, no matter how hard teachers try to help them catch up. The way a parent nurtures a child has a profound effect on the child’s development. Although peer relationships are important, they build on the relationship that a child has with his parents. Learning problems are difficult to fix but very easy to prevent. The foundations of learning are established from the moment a child first hears the sounds of people talking, the melodies of songs, and the rhymes of Mother Goose. Children who from birth have not regularly experienced speaking interactions, playing, or hearing books read, find life at school much more wearisome than they otherwise might. Learning to read can become a major stumbling block rather than a magical delight.
Children need a warm, intimate relationship with a primary care giver. This is far more important to emotional and intellectual development than “educational” games. Whenever a child is fed, cuddled, played with, talked with, sung to, or read to, crucial connections are made that determine how clever, creative, social, and capable a child may be.
Children need proper nutrition to develop a strong, healthy brain.
Children need an environment that protects them from physical and psychological harm. They need rest, exercise, and exposure to the amazing world around them and protection from exposure to violence and unrealistic expectations.
Children need structure and discipline. They need adults who empathize as well as set limits. They need adults who believe in their potential but understand their weaknesses.
Children need to grow up in a stable community with continuity of values in family, peer groups, religion, culture, and acceptance of diversity.
Educators can teach more than just children in the classroom. They can teach parents and the community educational principles and universal values. Teachers can be spokesmen, defenders, and advocates for children.
The improvement of education should be the focus of efforts among families, schools, and communities. Compacts are written agreements between the student, parents, and teacher that describe how all partners can help improve the language arts skills of children. Compacts can help bring people together to improve reading, attendance, and student progress in every content area. Detailed information on how to inventory needs, write a compact, and evaluate compact effectiveness is provided by the U.S. Department of Education at http://www.ed.gov/pubs/CompactforReading/index.html.
Parent Connection to Fine Motor Development
Fine motor development plays an integral part in your child’s school performance. Children need well-rounded playtime with opportunity to develop both large and small motor control. Your child’s chosen “play activities” will have an enormous influence on his ability to focus and to enjoy schoolwork. The toys your child plays with will impact his motor development.
What makes a good toy? A good toy invites a child to participate and discover. It suits a child’s developmental level. The toy is open-ended, unstructured, appealing to the senses, and fun. A good toy reflects positive values for interacting with others and includes different racial and cultural backgrounds. It should be durable, well made, and able to fulfill a need for particular kinds of play in artistic, musical, mathematical, dramatic, scientific, social, emotional, and physical growth. For more information see www.truceteachers.org or contact TRUCE: PO Box 441261, West Somerville, MA 02144, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The the following list provides helpful ideas on the kinds of activities that enhance fine motor development (activities that strengthen the same three fingers used in handwriting).
Activities that Enhance Fine Motor Development
4. Color using 1 1/2 inch pieces of crayon inside lines
5. Finger paint
6. Model with clay—pound, flatten, make snakes and balls, pinch pieces, roll and cut out cookies
7. Turn nuts and bolts
8. Tear around magazine pictures
10. String beads
11. Write on a chalkboard
15. Squeeze water out of sponge
16. Spoon rice from one container to another
17. Put things in a pocket chart
18. Put pennies in a slot
19. Screw lids on jars
20. Spoon water into a bowl
21. Use a flour sifter
22. Use tongs to pick up objects
23. Punch holes in paper
24. Pin safety pins on material
25. Polish silver
26. Scrub pots
27. Sand wood
28. Pick up un-popped popcorn with tweezers
29. Pick up small things
30. Wrap string or yarn
31. Put matchsticks in a matchbox
32. Put clothes pins on hangers
| 33. Lids on containers
34. String beads on bent coat hangers
35. Use clothes pins to pick up cotton balls
36. String cut up pieces of plastic straws or cereal to make necklaces
37. Cut a modeling clay snake with a popsicle stick or butter knife
38. Paste small circle in the middle of a large circle, cut up to the small circle to create fringe
39. Cut out objects from wrapping paper or ads in newspaper
40. Draw lines using a ruler
41. Use carbon paper
42. Trace around magnetic shapes
43. Pick up rice with fingers
44. Write in cornmeal
45. Stick on gummed reinforcers or stickers
46. Put pegs in a pegboard
47. Play with building blocks
48. Write on an overhead
49. Water with eyedropper or turkey baster
50. Hammer nails into soft wood or styrofoam block
51. Spin jacks
52. Crumple newspaper with one hand—have a newspaper war
|53. Play cat’s cradle
54. Type on a keyboard
55. Play the piano or recorder
56. Flick small wads of paper with tips of fingers off tabletop
57. Shuffle cards and deal one at a time
57. Twist a rubber band around each finger and try to remove it
58. Button/unbutton tiny buttons
59. Spin or flip coins
60. Shoot marbles
61. Sew on plastic canvas
62. Do dot-to-dots and mazes
63. Dice vegetables
64. Pick up coins, beans, buttons—try to collect in same hand
65. Snap or drum fingers
66. Do jigsaw puzzles
67. Braid hair or yarn
68. Apply nail polish
69. Remove and replace jar lids
70. Kneed dough, pull taffy
71. Play games like Operation, Battleship, Etch-a-Sketch, Silly Putty, Go Fish, Uno, Concentration
72. Push thumbtacks in a row
K-2 Parent Connection to Literacy
The best time to start reading aloud to a child is the day that he or she is born. Experts tell us that children need to hear a thousand stories read aloud before they begin to learn to read for themselves. Three stories a day will provide your child with a thousand stories in one year alone! You can do it! Children who are read to regularly in the home and have parents who are habitual readers themselves, become early readers who show a natural interest in books.
Words are an essential building block for literacy development. The more language a child experiences through books and conversation with others, the firmer his foundation in literacy becomes. Many people believe that TV provides the needed language enrichment, but television doesn’t develop the child’s ability to speak. Simply hearing language spoken does not develop the child’s expressive vocabulary. It is talking with others about seemingly ordinary things such as newspaper ads, cereal boxes, and books that enable a child to make critical connections, laying the foundation for becoming a successful reader.
During the school year, there are several important things you can do to provide structural support for homework. These might include:
Help your child become aware of print in the environment.
Help your child hear sounds that make up words.
Help your child understand that print carries a message.
Pronunciation and Comprehension
Help your child pronounce and comprehend grade level vocabulary.
Help your child enjoy both narrative and nonfiction books.
Help your child use phonics skills to decode words.
Help your child to convey written thoughts and messages.
Help your child use comprehension strategies to understand what she reads, hears, or views
Parent Connection to Mathematics
In order for young children to grasp mathematical concepts, experiences in math must be rich, varied, and relevant. Parents provide an important key in enabling children to make a connection between math concepts and the world around them. Most parents recognize the importance of reading aloud to their children and demonstrating the need for words in their daily lives. Parents can also help children to see the interaction of investigating, problem solving, measuring, reasoning, and communicating in their daily lives.
Children develop a foundation of problem solving skills when they are taught to understand the role of numbers and the tools of using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Numbers enable us to communicate quantity and frequency.
Patterns and Relationships
Thinking about patterns helps a child make sense of mathematics. They learn that mathematics is not a handful of unrelated facts and procedures. Recognizing and working with patterns helps young children to predict what will happen, talk about relationships, and make connections between concepts and experiences they have in the world around them.
An awareness of shape, size, direction, and movement helps a child classify the physical world we live in. Children will develop a spatial sense that increases their awareness of themselves in relation to the people and objects in the world around them.
Young children encounter many situations in which they want to compare things or judge how big, how long, or how deep they are. They are constantly measuring how big, how tall, how old, and how heavy they are compared to their friends. In daily experiences such as choosing the biggest cookie or pouring juice into a glass, children use and develop their intuitive notions of size comparisons.
Use of Data
Children love to ask questions. Children learn a great deal thinking about and discussing how to collect data on a variety of questions that are important to them.
Parent Connection to Science
As parents, we must prepare our children for a world that is much different from the one in which we grew up. The job market is constantly changing. In the future, this country will need citizens with more training in science and technology than most of us had in school. The following insights can help us prepare our child for the future. Young children are naturally active scientists—seeking, curious, and intent on discovering all they possibly can about their wonderful world. For them, science is not an isolated subject—it is the way they interact with their world. A young child has a natural curiosity and sense of wonder at the world around him. He questions, experiments, explores, and investigates during his daily encounters with life. This is the foundation of science. Children quickly perceive the attitudes of the adults around them toward science. If adults are excited about exploration, ask questions, and exhibit a “let’s find out” attitude, then children sense it, drink in the enthusiasm, and embrace the “I can find out” perspective. Adult attitudes about learning are transferred to the children around them.
Early childhood science should be based upon experiences rather than experiments. Children need to develop background knowledge and a sense of cause and effect in a predictable world. According to Piaget, the young child’s ability to think and reason is limited by a dependence on experience. Children whose parents have provided a rich variety of experiences (going to the zoo, caring for a pet, collecting insects, etc.) develop background knowledge acting as a foundation upon which to connect later abstract thinking. Children without background knowledge have much greater difficulty in developing critical thinking skills.
Sometime between the ages of six and eight most children move from “pre-operational” (relying on sensory experience for acquiring knowledge) into the “concrete operational” stage (developing the capacity for abstract thinking as long as it pertains to actual experience). As children mature, they will naturally begin to repeat procedures, perform experiments, and predict results. Science experiences promote critical thinking skills that enhance learning in every content area. A child’s ability to observe, describe, predict, problem solve, classify, interpret data, and communicate findings to others will have a greater impact on his success in life than any individual subject area. These critical thinking skills are the tools that promote in-depth learning of any subject.
Help your child to question, research, experiment, collect data, and draw conclusions.
Help your child to observe and describe the properties of matter, light, sound, and motion.
Help your child to explore plants/seeds, animals, growing/changing, the five senses, and health/nutrition.
Earth and Space Science
Help your child to learn about air, water, weather, earth, rocks, ocean, and space.
Science and Technology
Help your child explore and examine the uses of science and technology that impact his life.
Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
Help your child to learn about personal health, changes in the environment, material resources, personal values—beauty, quiet places, and security.
Parent Connection to Social Studies
Young children learn through their senses and experiences. They touch, feel, smell, and taste things. They play imaginary games and interact with friends. Children’s everyday play and experiences give them a basis for social studies concepts they will learn in school.
With just a little encouragement and direction, children can develop the vocabulary, awareness, and curiosity that will help them better understand and learn social studies. The following activities will help children gain the skills that lay the foundation for social studies.
Explore Human Similarities and Differences
Basic Human Needs
Rights and Responsibilities
People and the Places They Live
People and the Past