First Grade: Spelling It Out
This is when many teachers start assigning subject-specific homework (though it's often only one subject per night). Others, like Liz Rampy of Forest Acres Elementary School, in Easley, SC, hand out the entire week's worth of work on Monday, leaving the pacing up to you. An average night's effort might be to read together for 15 minutes, then finish a math or spelling sheet. For the former, your child might have to circle a certain number of objects in a group for counting practice, or solve simple word problems, or, later in the year, try double-digit subtraction. As for spelling, you'll typically tackle ten short words each week. To your kid, this may seem like a ton of work: “She's making the jump from the play-based curriculum of kindergarten,” Rampy notes.
Cheerleader: Offer praise when she finishes her work.
Super Scheduler: Figure out when your kid is most focused (right off the bus, or after a snack or playtime?) and have her tackle her toughest subject first.
Demonstrator: Use real objects to help her work through math problems: Set up five mini—chocolate bars and eat three—hey, we all have to sacrifice for our children's education! Spelling practice doesn't have to be a dull drill, either. “Let your child write out the words with shaving cream on the shower wall,” says Rampy.
•A TYPICAL NIGHT'S HOMEWORK: 0 TO 30 MINUTES
•BIG-PICTURE GOALS: REINFORCING GOOD WORK HABITS AND TEACHING TIME MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATION
•SECRET-WEAPON WEBSITE: SPELLINGCITY.COM FEATURES FUN SPELLING, VOCAB, AND GRAMMAR GAMES. (FREE; $30 FOR PREMIUM CONTENT)