This IsThe FLC First Grader’s Series
Yes, like last year, this year is another HUGE one for your 6-year-old. First Grade is filled with incredible LEAPS & BOUNDS! Your child’s growth & development intellectually, physically AND emotionally is almost approaching “light year” speed.
Five of the major Literacy Arenas influencing his/her ground-breaking discoveries are: Learning & Language Skills, Creative Arts & Play Shills, Inquiry Power, Reading Skills , and Writing Skills. So, I am dividing this incredibly important year into a series of 4 or 5 separate blog posts.
PART ONE : Learning & Language Skills
Children always learn, but not necessarily what you want them to learn. ~ Dr. L. Katz
Somewhere during the summer, before your 6-year-old enters First Grade, you’ll notice your somewhat-round child became all arms and legs. No way are last year’s clothes & shoes going to fit! This growth will continue for a few years ~an average of 2 to 2.5 inches per year. Remember the thumbprint-measure at the end of new shoes.…. Ignore the “This is TOO BIG for ME!” comments…. And cross your fingers to prolong another wardrobe upgrade before next Summer…..hopefully, Fall……
Must have been all the new physical skills~fine & gross motor~ s/he kept practicing all Summer…. running & jumping & skipping & hopping & skipping & skipping & hopping….EVERYWHERE!!!!! Oh.. and, purposely, rolling & spinning ’round & ’round…..
Indoors found him/her drawing lots of pictures & cutting out lots of pictures to accompany lots of newly written stories….drawing & cutting & gluing (“Teacher says ‘Just a dot, not a lot’ “) & writing….Yes, s/he needs more paper & magazines & glue…..
Although the hand-eye coordination is improving….s/he will probably fall out of chairs several times in the next year and baby teeth will fall out of her/his mouth. Pencils can become “teething sticks”. As a First Grade teacher, I was asked to “pop-out” many front teeth and scooped up many “plopped-on-the-floor” bodies…
BIG NEWS FLASH!!!! S/he is TYING her/his own shoes laces!!!!!!
How does s/he have enough energy to ask SSSSOOOOO many questions?!?!?!?
Your Budding Brainiac
Even at rest, your soon-to-be First Grader spends hours upon hours pondering the great questions of the Universe and her/his place in it. The Age of Reason has arrived in your child’s brain development, stimulated by the opportunities received at school to learn new concepts and ideas.
Curiosity encourages exploration and discovery. PBSParents offers a few tips on how you can help build these Learning Skills:
- Allow him/her to make simple choices, such as what to wear, what to eat for snack, where to eat out for a meal, which shoes to buy (of the several options you’ve okayed), what present to buy for whom (within your budget).
- Give your child some support when needed to finish a new task or activity, but don’t take over or rush him/her to complete it.
- Encourage creativity in your child’s expressions by offering new material & experiences without influencing her/his decisions.
- Praise achievements, progress & eagerness to take risks (safely, of course).
“Inside the First Grader’s Brain”
Although I have taught many First Graders ~ and what an absolutely FASCINATING bunch they are ~ I, myself was curious to know what makes those incredibly interesting 6-year-old brains tick. Hank Pellissier, founder of the Brighter Brains Institute, contributed an article in June 2018 to greatschools.org with the above title.
Scientifically, this is what is happening inside your First Grader’s brain:
- The sensory lobes that recognize & analyze challenges are maturing at a rapid rate.
- There is rapid brain growth in vocabulary, grammar & pronunciation.
- Your child is probably “leaping” from magical thinking to logical, rational mental processing.
- S/he may become fixed on rules & regulations.
You can “nuture” your child’s logical mental processing & satisfy his/her Rules & Regulations focus with a small activity game I created : “Choose A Category”. You’ll find it in BLB Shop by clicking on the link below:
Keep reading for some suggestions on nurturing this brain stage.
Pellissier’s Parenting Your First Grader’s Brain Tips
Included in his article are some tips (with some comments from yours truly) on how you can help your child’s brain during this stage of growth & development:
- Set high expectations ~ they will be welcomed, met & exceeded
- Provide a relaxed & emotionally secure environment ~ so effective for his/her explosive world of intellectual adventures
- Contribute PATIENCE during her/his dramatics ~ enrollment in the Creative Arts, especially music will help temper some of these behaviors-6-year-olds can be quite a “serious” bunch and “talking about feelings” is still too confusing for them….too busy emoting
- Make SURE s/he runs & plays outside EVERYDAY for at least 30 minutes ~ non-negotiable, rain or shine, in addition to school recess
- Focus your child’s attention with board games & limit TV/video games time ~ yes. yes. yes- you will notice BIG behavior changes
- Include lots of vocabulary exploration because s/he can acquire 10 NEW WORDS A DAY, plus now would be a good time to expose your child to another language ~ I retained lots of another language I learned as a child as well as many First Grade ESL students exit into mainstream
- Encourage your young reader to pay attention to ALL letter sounds in words ~ s/he can’t WAIT to get to the next word……
SO MANY QUESTIONS !!!!
Children must be taught HOW to think, not WHAT to think. ~ Margaret Mead
Sometimes answering a question with another question is a great way to stretch the brain’s growth. Karen Nelson@weareteachers posted a list of 62 questions for increasing those thinking & learning skills. Just click on this link: https://www.weareteachers.com/critical-thinking-questions/
Or you can click on this pdf link to download, copy & print “A Short List of Critical Thinking Question Stems” I created to get you started: A Short List of CT Questions
And What Is Critical Thinking?
“Critical thinking means making reasoned judgments that are logical and well-thought out. It is a way of thinking in which you don’t simply accept all arguments and conclusions you are exposed to but rather have an attitude involving questioning such arguments and conclusions.” ~ study.com
You will notice your VERY curious & engaged 6-year-old studying things intensely. S/he will, then, describe a thing (or 20) using its characteristics, and, then, find similarities & differences between a variety of things. These are his/her growing & developing cognitive skills at work!
Need a little (HA!) more in-depth information ? Yes, you guessed it! Click on this link from BLB’s Resource Library for ideas, tips & strategies in A Parent’s Guide to Building Learning & Critical Thinking Skills: https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/blb-resource-library/parent-guide-building-thinking-skills/
These “working” words will show up at the most surprising times……correctly,too!
Favorite First Grader phrases include:
“You’re not the boss of me!” (I still use that one…)
“I didn’t do it!” (use that one, too)
“S/he told me to……”
“S/he did it, too!”
And tho’ your First Grader “hates” tattle tales, s/he is quite the tattler…. such talkers….
The rate your child is learning to understand and speak new words is growing, quite literally, by leaps & bounds ~ about 3000 within the school year! S/he is even talking ABOUT words, not just using them during expression.
S/he is starting conversations, using defining & describing words more frequently, staying on topic, taking turns during the conversation, and ~ this is a jewel~ giving directions to others. S/he is, also, able to re-state ideas using different words if what was expressed is not understood by the listener.
And how did all this happen, you may ask?? Some of those high expectations coupled with lots of “world” knowledge being shared in school are definitely factors influencing this language growth.
The “Common Core” Standard Expectations for Language
By the completion of First Grade, your child is expected to show mastery in quite a few grammatical conventions as well as a number of other areas in the English language. I’m just going to list some general ones, because, quite frankly, college graduates haven’t mastered some of these……really….., so, maybe, this is why these Standards are being implemented in so many states’ public school districts.
There are 10 “command”, or mastery expectations for speaking & writing, but I’m just listing a few of the main ones :
- common, proper & possessive nouns
- singular & plural nouns with matching verb agreement
- personal, possessive & indefinite pronouns
- past, present & future verb tenses
- complete simple & compound statements, questions, commands & exclamations
BTW, I created a PDF downloadable game for Singular & Plural Nouns with Matching Verb Agreement: One Frog Hops! Two Frogs Hop! Just click on this link : One Frog Hops
Speaking & Listening
Basically, these expectations are about participating in an interactive First Grade topic conversation:
- asking & answering in complete sentences
- asking & answering questions about details from a read text
- asking & answering questions about details from an oral lesson
- using words & phrases learned from grade level texts
- describing people, places, things & events using clearly stated details & ideas
Need more specific information about the Common Core Standards for First Grade Language? Click on the link below:
In Parentese, Please!
The National PTA has written a “Parents’ Guide to Student Success” regarding the Common Core Standards. It lists the main Mastery expectations for ELA Literacy & Mathematics as well as some ELA Literacy Parent Involvement at Home tips for your First Grader:
- Read books together with your child & help him/her sound out difficult words.
- Act out stories together from books, TV and your child’s imagination.
- Pick a “Word of the Day” every day, beginning with a different letter. Have your child write the word & look for other things beginning with the same letter.
- Have your child sign up for a Public Library card & visit the with your child every week, checking a variety of books ~ fiction, nonfiction, poetry, plays.
Literacy Language Lifters
Here are a few additional suggestions for promoting your First Grader’s listening & speaking skills:
- Continue playing with language through rhymes, songs & word games, especially when new nonsense words can be created
- Invent meanings for those new nonsense words
- Increase verbal directions from one & two-step to three-step
- Ask your child to repeat those directions back to you
- Promote the understanding of game rules
- Include Time (before/after) & Distance (close/far) concepts in your interactive conversations
- Ask her/him to repeat stories that have a series of events to relate in order
- Continue asking the “wh” questions for comprehension: who, what, when, where, why
- Introduce your child to a different language ~ s/he will absolutely LOVE learning words in another language AND 6-years-old is an optimal time in his/her language development for this skill.
Learning Another Language Benefits
There are more than a few advantages to having a access to another language. Learning another language increases your child’s literacy, analytical,and problem-solving skills. It boosts your child’s confidence, self-image, and tolerance.
According to pandatree.com, a multilingual teaching website, your child will experience 15 or more benefits. Among them are:
- speaking, understanding & connecting with more people.
- stimulating his/her brain growth.
- boosting first language abilities
- training one’s ear for music
- increasing out-of-the-box thinking
And in my experience as an educator~ all my students thought it was great fun and were always eager to learn MORE!
So, if you would like to teach your child a few common vocabulary words and phrases in another language ~ say Spanish~ BLB Shop has just the product for you and yours: Let’s Learn A Little Spanish has 10 mini-lessons with easy-to-use instructions. Just click on the link below:
Just a little postscript: Your First Grader’s Learning & Language Skills is the first part of this 4, maybe 5 part series for First Graders. Play, Inquiry, Reading & Writing are in the mix as well. Stay tuned!
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