Kindergarten: H Is for Homework!
Don't be surprised if what happens in kindergarten doesn't stay in kindergarten. “We have a lot of activities going home. We're trying to show the children that what they're doing in class applies to life,” explains Erin Reid, a kindergarten teacher at Horizon Community Learning Center, in Phoenix. Your child will need your help to finish his work, which will typically consist of a worksheet that's more like a game, and reading aloud. Set up a homework station with paper, scissors, glue, colored pencils, and washable markers. Using them will help improve his hand-eye coordination, and you'll keep the mess contained to a single area.
Barbara Walters Wannabe: You'll probably have to do all the reading—but pose questions to get your kid to read between the lines. “‘What do you think will happen?’ or ‘Does Joey seem happy or scared?’” Reid recommends. Have him look closely at the illustrations and preceding sentences for clues.
Field-Trip Facilitator: Find tie-ins to what the class is studying. During a unit on birds, for example, take a walk to your nearest park, and try to spot cool ones.
Play Maker: At playtime, choose activities that informally reinforce things your child is doing in the classroom. Play a board game like Scrabble Jr. or Chutes and Ladders. “They teach kids how to take turns and can help them learn simple reading and math,” Reid explains. If you're making a grocery list, ask your child to “write” one, too. “It doesn't matter if he can spell words or not—just have him pretend,” Reid says. “It's more about getting practice holding a pencil.”
•A TYPICAL NIGHT'S HOMEWORK: 0 TO 15 MINUTES
•BIG-PICTURE GOAL: ESTABLISHING GOOD STUDY HABITS
First Grade Spelling It Out•SECRET-WEAPON WEBSITE: STARFALL.COM LETS KIDS PLAY FREE GAMES THAT TEACH PHONICS, SPELLING, AND MATH.