Understanding your child's grades

Report cards can be a source of pride or shame for a child/parent. Below are some tips in understanding what you are reading when you get your child's report card.

1. It should not be a surprise- a report card is a reflection of what your child knows so far. By looking over their work and observing their progress during the semester you should have a good idea what their grade will be. Teachers are not trying to trick you, they are giving a letter grade to show your child's progression.

2. Ask questions before grades are due- Ask what each grade really means, a C may mean different things. Sometimes a lower grade may mean the child has the potential to do well but chooses not to. Or they are taking a bit longer to reach grade level expectations. Both of which require a different approach at home.

3. Have an open discussion- Don't just look at the grades but have a talk with your child. Express whatever you feel is appropriate but do have some type of discussion. 

4. Ask what they think-  What were their expectations? Were they surprised by any grade? Letting them express how they feel can give insight into things to work or focus on at home.

5. Be honest with yourself- know before the year/semester starts what you want out of your child's school/education. For the beginning of daughter's kindergarten year I wanted her social skills to improve, grades were not the top priority or concern. Another semester writing and reading comprehension was my main focus. Both instances I knew going into the school year what my child needed from the school. Remember you are your child's best advocate! 

How to start a home Book Club

How can I help my child succeed in school is a constant question or concern for all parents. I believe the 'traditional' idea of education should stay at school. Home is and should be different environment than the school setting. One of the differences can be a more in depth approach to subjects or ideas. A at home book club can be a great way to ensure family time and support reading comprehension. Here are some steps to get your family book club started:

1. Family Meeting!

  • Telling your kids about the book club, with them being the deciders of the book, will guarantee its implementation. Giving the choice to the children is a great way to build enthusiasm and make sure the book club does not fall into the category of good intentions that are never implemented. 

2. Name the book club and the designated space

  • Give your book club a name and decide where it will be held. Our book club is held in my bed because my daughter is no longer allowed to sleep with me so she found a loophole :-) Giving a name and space is another way to legitimize the club and give it purpose.

3. Timeframes

  • Don't worry about it! I gave myself a month for each book, but that is very loose. We sometimes read only a few pages a night or go several nights without reading. Sometimes my daughter is the one to ask can we start reading again from our book club pick! My local library allows 3 renewals, so I gauge my pace based on how many renewals I have left. 

4. Activities

  • Implementing supplemental activities or discussion questions reinforces comprehension and retainment. Most middle grade books have discussion questions that can be found on the Internet (Penguin Random House has great resources!). One of our book club picks was a series of poems so we made a silly rhyming poem in the car one day. The current book we are reading is set during winter so we made hot chocolate before one reading. 

The biggest takeaway is to have fun! I was a bit apprehensive at first; how was I going to fit in reading a book out loud to my already packed schedule. Once I loosened my expectations I found it to be fun and a great way spend time with my child. 

Word Wall

Building reading skills extend beyond just reading books but building context and understanding around common words. The word wall is a great way to build vocabulary skills at home. We have word walls around her bedroom with words taken from sight words she is learning at school. This is great for all ages!

Here the first word is my daughter's name and we built a sentence with the word 'like'. For a few nights we slowly made the sentence and she had to say and point to each word as we built the sentence. 

 

The word focused on in this sentence is "we" and we are currently building the sentence. Each night she points to each word and says it. Not only are we building literacy but comprehension and vocabulary.  

 

Mad Libs Review

Reading Report Cards can sometimes be daunting, you may be used to seeing a simple grade next to the subject. A for Liteature, B for Science etc. Now you may see sub components under the subject explaining specifically what your child is working towards to be 'on grade level'. Below is a review of Mad Libs a great activity for students struggling with vocabulary, an essential component to reading and writing.  

Mad Libs is a game that takes a short story and leaves blank spaces to be filled by each player. The end result is always a funny, weird story. Under the blank spaces it gives you what type of word to write (verb, adjective...) so it is great for kids struggling in reading and writing. The Mad Libs website has free downloads and an iOS app. I have seen the books at numerous book and grocery stores so they are easy to find.