Teacher Talk: Address Academic Weaknesses During Summer
Q: How do I make sure that my children are ready to succeed when they go back to school in the fall?
— Looking for Suggestions
A: Carefully study each child’s final report card to look for any tell-tale signs of weakness that need to be addressed this summer. Your children will need special help from you, tutors or a learning center if you answer “yes” to any of the questions below.
• Is your child reading on grade level? If not, it is very important to narrow the gap before school resumes. This is true at every grade level and especially in grades 1-3.
• Is your child working on grade level in mathematics? Success in this subject is built upon mastery of each year’s skills before beginning to learn new skills.
• Did your child receive a below average grade in spelling or handwriting? These are also important skills for all children to master at each grade level.
• In the teacher comment section, was there any mention of areas that need to be addressed this summer? Teachers have worked with your children for a full year; you must take their comments very seriously, and try to improve any academic or behavior issues.
Reminder: Many schools will allow parents to check out textbooks for the summer. Investigate this if your children need to review some of this past year’s work or want to get an early exposure to next year’s work.
Q: Do you have any suggestions about ways to store school records efficiently? Also, what do I save out of all the papers sent home from school?
— Mother of a Kindergarten Student
A: Parents are inundated with school papers, especially if they have several children. Obviously, some are far more important than others. You should keep all report cards, standardized test scores, assessment reports and official letters from the school. You can create your own binder system or use an expanding file to keep separate records for each year. Or you can buy one of the keepsake albums that learning stores and catalogs sell. These albums have separate pages or pouches for keeping vital information, photos and school papers. They make nice memory books of your children’s school years.
Be sure to keep some papers from major subjects so you have a record of the quality of work your child does each year. This could be very helpful if there are any future learning problems.
Q: My daughter will be entering kindergarten this fall and still can’t write her name. She attended preschool for two years where the teachers always printed everyone’s name. Unfortunately, her first name, Charlotte, is hard to spell. I have tried and tried with no success to help her. Is there any easy way for young children to learn to write their names?
— Nameless on Paper
A: We want to point out that not every child entering kindergarten can write his or her name. For a good picture of the writing skills of young children from 18 months up to third grade, go online to www.pbs.org/parents/readinglanguage/writing/main.html to see examples of a child’s writing.
Your daughter can be taught how to write her name. It will take time. Is your daughter able to write any of the letters in her name? Or is the problem that she can’t place them in the right order? In either case, we have a good way to help children master this task. Follow the steps below, and don’t move to the next step until the previous one has been mastered:
Begin by teaching your child how to print each letter in her name. You can start with the easier stick letters such as l and t. Then work on h. All the rest of the letters except for r are related to a circle. Keep in mind that you can teach the letters in any order that you want. Do be sure that your child learns the name of each letter.
• Teach her to print only the first letter as a capital letter.
• Print your child’s name and have her trace over it many times with a pencil, crayon or marking pen.
• Use dots or dashes to write the letters in her name and have her connect them.
• Print her name, and have her copy it under the letters you have written, saying each letter as she writes it.
• Write her name leaving blanks for her to fill in.
• Have her write her name without looking at a model.
Parents should send questions to Dear Teacher, in care of Charlotte Parent, Box 395, Carmel, IN 46082-0395.