March 25, 2012

You know how I always say there seems to be waves of issues plaguing our children.  From Preschoolers to 5th graders, this spring the overwhelming issue has been handwriting.   Handwriting has taken a back seat in education for some time now, but it is making a comeback and personally, I am glad.  Handwriting has a significant place in the educational setting.   Handwriting fluency is a fundamental building block of learning.  Handwriting issues are linked to spelling, writing, math, study skills, and test taking errors.  From kindergarten all the way to fourth grade, children think and write at the same time. As children mature the two become separate. If children struggle when remembering how to make their letters, then their ability to express themselves will suffer. The motions have to be automatic.  How can you help your child at home to improve their handwriting to improve automaticity and fluency?  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Pencil GRIP is very important!  A classic grip is holding the pencil between your thumb and index fingers.  A tripod grip is using your thumb, index and middle finger to grip the instrument.  Grip is extremely difficult to change if you do not address it early!
  2. Find a good space with an appropriate size chair or yoga ball to help with posture and control.
  3. Place your child’s paper on a SLANTED surface such as a three ring binder for the most effective writing surface.
  4. Use the right tools. Is your child’s regular pencil not doing the trick? Try a smaller or shorter, kid-sized one or even a fat chubby one.  A good eraser is key so he’s not afraid of making mistakes.
  5. Make practicing fun. Get cool pencils and pens and play with them.  Make rainbow words (tracing over a letter or words in multiple colors), play word puzzles, anagrams, hangman or doodle outside with sidewalk chalk!
  6. Encourage drawing…get some tracing paper for your child if they are not confident in their drawing capabilities.
  7. Keep an alphabet chart handy so your child can double check herself.
  8. If your child is having trouble staying in the lines use wiki sticks on the top and bottom lines so they will stay within the lines.
  9. Highlight the margins if they indicate where to start a sentence or so they don’t cram too many words on a page.
  10. A popsicle stick is a great tool for teaching spacing between words.

These are a few handy tricks of the trade, but if you are still concerned about your child’s handwriting, Little Scholars has teachers who can assist your child in building their handwriting confidence and improving their school performance.  We are also offering several classes this summer to address handwriting issues.  For more information, please contact us at 804-241-6006 or sjefferson@littlescholarsllc.com.

Ready, Set, Go to Kindergarten

March 6, 2012

Many parents ask this question  every spring, “Is my child ready for Kindergarten?”  I think the real question should be, “Is my child ready for school?” Kindergarten is the first BIG step for many children into formal education.  Kindergarten is chalked full of many social expectations, but add to that reading, math, handwriting and content area subjects, and the demands on your child begin to mount.  Making sure your child has a solid foundation to build upon is essential in deciding if this is the year to start Kindergarten.   As you think about your child’s school readiness, it is important to consider some of these following questions:

.  We need to ensure your child has a solid foundation to build all these new skills.  It is important as you think about your child’s school readiness to consider some of these following questions:

  • First and foremost, your child MUST be five years old by September 30th to be eligible for Kindergarten.
  • Can they take care of their personal needs?
  •  How does your child handle their emotions, specifically anger?  Do they choose words or do they act out physically?
  • Can your child follow two-step directions without constant reminders?
  • Does your child ask questions about the world around them?
  • Does your child play well with others?  Does he share?  Does she take turns?
  • Can your child hold scissors properly and cut on a designated line?
  • Does your child hold a pencil correctly?
  • Can your child draw a person?
  • Does your child write his first name independently?
  • Does your child run, jump and hop?
  • Can your child throw a ball?
  • Can your child attend to an activity for 15-20 minutes?
  • Can your child complete a simple pattern?
  • Can your child tell a story?  Does it have a clear beginning, middle and end?
  • Can your child count to ten?
  • Can your child write their name in order starting on the left side of the paper?
  • Does your child speak in complete sentences?
  • Can your child retell the general story line of a book?
  • Can your child correctly label at least five colors?
  • Can your child label at least four shapes?
  • Can your child recognize in isolation AT LEAST the letters in his/her name?
  • Can your child ask question and answer questions appropriately?
  • Can your child complete a simple rhyme: bat, rat, cat….?
  • Does your child speak in complete sentences?
  • Does your child recite a simple nursery rhyme or song?

Ask yourself these questions and be honest with yourself.  Answering “no” to a few of these questions may raise some red flags for your child’s school readiness.  If you are concerned about your child’s readiness, Little Scholars offers Kindergarten Readiness Testing to give you the confidence you need to help you make an informed decision about your child’s school readiness.

Click here for a complete Kindergarten Readiness Checklist.

To find out more about our Kindergarten Readiness Assessments, please contact us.