3 Parent-Teacher Communication Strategies for the First 6 Weeks of School

 



Right from the get-go as soon as you can, make sure parents understand the importance of working together to ensure their child's academic, social and emotional growth.

Try to reiterate this every time you speak with them, write an e-mail, send a message through a text or anyway you communicate with parents/guardians.

At the bottom of homework sheets, e-mails, or even at the end of a conversation, I always would write or say, 

I appreciate your support at home. It shows in your child's progress!  
OR
Thank you for your support at home. When we work as a team, it shows in your child's progress!





During the first few weeks of school, try to contact each child's family to chat about how the first few weeks are going and to share a compliment or positive attribute about their child.

I remember way back when I was in college a professor emphasized the importance of giving compliments to parents about their children as well as sharing positivities with students to build self esteem.

It can be as simple as your child brightens my day with his smile or I can tell that Sam was really working hard over the summer. It really shows in his work!

I know for a fact that small gestures of kindness can make a parent or student's day!

Also, if you start off the year with a few positives, you are establishing a rapport with parents and students, which shows you care. Later, if you do have to share a problem, parents know that you care about their child...you shared something positive!






If you have used Tips numbers 1 and 2, then parents should already understand that communication between home and school is important to their child's growth! Even if you didn't use Tip 1 or 2, TIP 3 is the most important!

At Back to School Night or whatever your school does to introduce parents/guardians to your class and you share information about the way things run, EMPHASIZE the importance of keeping communication  between home and school easy ans expected.  

It is so much easier when you know what is going on in a child's life at home and as important for a parent to understand how their child is handling school, friends, academics, emotions and anything that parents should know and you need or want to share with parents about their child's school day/life. 


I Hope you Have a Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Year!

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3 "SUN"sational Ideas to End the School Year



The End of the school year is here! That's right and some school district's are actually DONE for the year...and what a year it was and for some still is.  YOU'RE Tired...exhausted...ready for summer....can just about drag yourself out of bed in time to grab a cup of coffee before you head out to school...AND...you still have 2 weeks of school left...
If your year was or is a bit...well...let's just say a bit difficult, then why not end the year with a BANG using 3 of my all time favorite crafts and ideas that your students and parents will absolutely love?

ANNNNDDDDD...they will lessen the load for YOU since they are already to go!  NO THINKING required...no lost sleep trying to figure out what to do and the ideas are motivating and FUN FOR ALL!

๐ŸŒž Think about the Amazing 2021 Summer

With a year like we have had and everyone looking forward to summer as some of our Covid mandates are lessening or gone, encourage  your kiddos to think about the summer they have been waiting for for 2 years!  

I am pretty sure that many children will be heading to a pool or the beach at some point this summer even if it is simply a above ground blow up pool in the backyard.  


So why not end the year with this fun end of year summer craft?



These can be used for an end of year celebration, bulletin board and then sent home with your students to hang in a room in their house to remind them of some of the activities they would like to accomplish over the summer.  There are many choices included and you can choose a writing activity or a mobile to hang from the ceiling!  
End of Year Summer Craft.           

๐ŸŒž Create a Memory Book about the School Year


This is something that I am sure you have all used, but I have a few ways to make it a little different than your average memory book.  

When I have created end of the year memory books,  I usually  made them in a way that children had some individual pages and also some pages written by groups of classmates or by peers. 

Here's what we did: 

1. Brainstormed favorite activities that we did throughout the year or ideas that stood out.  I am sure this year there will be many.

2.  Children or partners chose an idea or topic to write about for the book.

3.  You can use a memory page from the book that fits or simply plain paper.

4.  Be sure to make a copy for every child to add to their book.

5.  Then have children choose pages from the memory book option writing frames.  

Let's take a look at some of the optional pages in this Memory Book for Grades 1-3:  




 If you would like to add some special pages to each student's Memory Book, here is a great idea to add!





One more great idea, which can be added to the Memory Book or just given to each student!




 DRUM ROLL PLEASE..........THE FINAL IDEA for the End of the year:

 ๐ŸŒž Have your Students Write a Letter to Next Year's Class

Simply brainstorm some ideas of what the class loved about school this year and have each student write a letter to next year's class about all the fun they had during the 2020-21 school year!  SIMPLE and FUN!  In September you can share a few letters to give your new students a soft landing on the first day of school!

Another way to do this is to write a class letter on chart paper that you can have each student sign and then use it as your morning message for the first day of school.

Any way you choose is sure to be fun and exciting for your current students and your new students!

 Have a Great Summer!  


If you are interested in receiving lots of great ideas, free resources and be notified of new resources, add your name to my list!



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Why is Learning the Alphabet Important for Early Literacy Development?



Who doesn't love to hear their little one sing the alphabet with "elemenop" or LMNOP? They love the song, the way it easily rolls of their tongue and they feel so very proud of this accomplishment.  They are reciting the alphabet in song because they love the sound of it. How about A says /a/, A says /a/. Ever letter has a sound and A says /a/.  This, my friends, is the beginning of Phonics, simply put is words are made of of letters and letters and combination of letters represent sounds. 

I remember years ago when I first started teaching, ”Whole Language” was all the rage.  Whole language is a method of teaching and writing which focuses on whole word phrases through repetitive reading of passages learning words solely in context instead of phonics exercises, worksheets and the like.  

Although I believe it is important to have all ideas in your reading toolbox, over my 34 years of teaching, I recognize and feel that phonics and all of its components should be the focal point of learning to read. 

However, sight words do have their place in learning to read as well and should be taught because not all words can be deciphered through phonics alone  Some children or maybe many children need a combination of foundational skills to read.  

That being said let's take a look at learning the letters of the alphabet and a bit more



Why learn the alphabet? 

๐ŸŽThe alphabet is the foundation or building block to reading, writing and spelling.  It is important for each child to recognize and name all the letters and combination of letters in and out of order and also the sounds associated with them in order to be successful with literacy.

๐ŸŽLearning the alphabet is the basis of spoken language, which gives early learners the benefit 
of understanding how letters, combinations and patterns of letters and words are pronounced.  

๐ŸŽIt allows us to think in our language and spell words (without a spellcheck). 

๐ŸŽ It is also important for early learners to know the symbols or ways we write the letters. or combinations of letters or graphemes that represent sounds.  A combination of 1,2,3,or 4 graphemes can represent a phoneme or sound. For example: 1 letter p, 2 letters ch, 3 letters tch, 4 letters ough.  So in the word; m-a-t-c-h, there are 5 letters and 3 graphemes; m-a-tch.

Why is it important to know the letters and sounds of the alphabet?

๐ŸŽWhen children begin to recognize the letters and understand their given sounds, they receive the foundation or emergent skills to read.  

๐ŸŽRecognizing letters, sounds and combinations of letters and sounds, is a skill that is needed to read unfamiliar words independently. 

๐ŸŽHaving letter-sound knowledge will allow children to make the link between the unfamiliar printed words to their spoken language knowledge.




Why is letter-sound knowledge important?

๐ŸŽLetter-sound knowledge (also called 'graphemic knowledge as mentioned above) helps students to apply their understanding of written language and learn new words independently as well as help them decode unfamiliar words. 

If you are thinking...what?  YES! it can be very confusing, but it is SO important to understand these basics if you are teaching early learners to read.




These worksheets allow young learners to hear that the letter Aa can say /a/ as you hear in apple OR /a/ as in apron.  The second worksheet shows there is more than one way to write an a.  This is important because many books and worksheets may use different fonts to represent the letter Aa.




With these types of phonics activities, early learners are listening for the sound of the letter Aa and finding pictures that begin with that sound.  They are learning that these pictures begin with different sounds and they need to decide which pictures start with the /a/ sound.  Their little brains are starting to connect sounds to letters and learn graphemes that represent the sounds they hear. 



Why Phonics?  

๐ŸŽPhonics instruction teaches children how to decode or apply their understanding of letter-sound relationships, which includes knowledge of letter patterns, to correctly pronounce written words. 


๐ŸŽIf a child understands the relationships between print and the sounds the print or letters produce, children will gain the ability to recognize familiar words quickly and to figure out words they haven't seen before. 


So..... 


๐ŸŽChildren need to learn the alphabet and the corresponding sounds to learn how to read and decode words, spell and understand spoken and written language. 

๐ŸŽLearning the letters of the alphabet helps to form the foundation of language and communication throughout our life.

If you need a comprehensive resource to support your early learners with letter recognition, letter sequencing and learning the individual sounds each letter produces, this alphabet resource will be your go to and keep your students learning until they feel proud.  The sheets can be differentiated in that you can assign different pages to different learners depending on their levels.

 
An original poem for each letter, which reinforces letter recognition and the sound the letter makes. This poem can be used to introduce the letter for the week.  

Here is how I would use it:

On Day One: Introduce the letter by writing it on the board or demonstrating with a large letter flashcard.

Read the poem through once with students following along (you can put it up on the whiteboard/smartboard, share through zoom on your board or have students follow along with the poem/chant in hand.

When you get to the formation of the letter , "Sky Write" the letter so they can see you form it.

Read the chant a second time and after you read each phrase, have your students echo read...you say...they say it.  When you ge to the letter formation have your students "Sky Write" the letter. I have the kiddos pretend red ink is flowing out. As you say how to form the letter have the students do it with you.

Read the chant a third time chorally with the students (everyone reading it together)!

Then have your students say the names of the pictures emphasizing the beginning sound.  bbbb at for bat. Remember it is not "bu"; it is /b/

On Day Two:  You can chose to reread the chant or have small groups or even individuals read the chant with your support.  At this time you can use the letter recognition pages in any order that works for your students depending on their level or individual levels.  For those who are a bit stronger, you can assign the Mystery Picture, while others can sort lowercase and uppercase letters. I would simply assign one or two pages for independent work, centers or stations for the day. If you would rather put all the pages in a book and assign it page by page, that works as well.


Day Three and Four:  Simply repeat day two using the same sequence as above. By now you may begin to see those students who may be ready for more difficult activities and you can differentiate as needed by assigning different pages to different students as needed.

On Day Five: Read chorally and have students make the headbands to wear home.  I might also have the students go on a classroom hunt to find the letter Aa around the room and spot objects in the room that begin with the sound.  This would be a fun way to end the week with each letter you learn!  There is also a crown for learning all of the letters!


A train puzzle to reinforce letter sequencing and worksheets for sequencing letters and sounds of letters are also included at the end of the resource to add as needed for students.

             

                  
                                     

Don't ever stop reading aloud to children as listening to and interacting with stories is so important in learning to read.  It is a combination of many philosophies and ideas that support children to become strong readers...maybe it is rocket science.


Stay tuned for more ideas to support learners with using phonics to spell, read, write and other fun ideas to get students motivated to learn coming soon!



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100th Day of School Ideas for Home and School


If you celebrate or want to celebrate the 100th Day of School, you will want to take a look at this post before you start to plan. It mentions some great ideas to use with your primary students. Don't wait too long...it will be here before you know it!

I remember it so clearly...all the classes would line up in the hallway anticipating what was yet to come...jumping with excitement, whispering and bouncing and waiting impatiently for the Kindergarten 100th Day Celebration.

My first graders would fall into a trance and chit chat about when they, too, had marched the halls to celebrate the 100th Day of School...and then...my firsties would hear a faint beat and slight echo of the music filling the halls...there would be more tapping feet, small jumps, giggles and excitement and they knew the parade was about to emerge at the end of OUR hallway!

They stared intensely at the end of the hall and their whispers were focused on reminiscing about their 100th Day projects and what they did and how excited they felt!

Now, they were big first graders and although we celebrated the 100th Day of School in first grade, somehow it was not the same...definitely not the same as Kindergarten, but tons of fun none the less!


YES...it was always a day to remember in the halls of our school!

I am thinking no mater what grade you teach, children love to celebrate the 100th Day of School.

So, I thought it might be fun to share some tried and true ideas and activities to have a "FUN"tastic 100th Day of School with your kiddos.  Now...most of these ideas and activities were used in first and second grade, but I know how creative teachers are!

I know you can adapt these ideas for other primary or even upper elementary! 


๐ŸŒŸ Dress up for the Occasion:  

On the 100th Dy of school it is a fun idea to dress up and act 100 years old...however you perceive that to be.  You can also have your students dress for the occasion.  I can tell you from experience that your class will LOVE it!      

The last year of my career, we performed our roles so realistically that we appeared at a staff coffee in out costumes and spoke like we were at least 100 years old...asking our colleagues to repeat phrases etc. that we had everyone in an uproar...even our administration came to join in on the fun!  It was one of those great moments!

๐ŸŒŸ  Use some Resources Created for the 100th Day of School:

I am sure you are already aware that Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) has a tremendous amount of resources that can be used to celebrate this special day!

If you are looking for something easy and free for your preschoolers, Kinders or Firsties, this
Free 100th Day Crown and Certificate will ensure your kiddos know that they are 100 Days Smarter!














Another quick and easy resource is Let's Celebrate the 100th Day of School
Here is what is included in this resource:

★ 100th Day Fun Mystery message Sheet.       

★ What Can you do in 100 Seconds Worksheet, which includes estimating and predicting.

★ 3 Writing Frames….If I had $100: I would love 100…and When I am 100 years Old I will…Plus another describing what it will be like to be 100 years old and a picture.

★ I can Write 100 Words.

★ I can read 100 Words based on the first 100 Fry Sight Words.

★ A worksheet to circle names for 100 and answer sheet.

★ An Award to give out for the day that states: You are 100 Days Smarter.


Simply search 100th Day of School on Tpt and you will find a plethora of resources available for your grade level.

๐ŸŒŸ  Assign fun 100th Day Activities for Homework to Share in School:


๐ŸŒŸ  Create Some Fun Edtitable Snacks to Celebrate:

There are so many sweet snacks out there, but I know my school district and others are trying to promote more healthy options...so ...with that in mind, I really like these snack ideas to celebrate!!

๐ŸŒŸ  Use a Fun "Old Age" app on your phone to make everyone look 100 Years old!

I would always take a photo of each student, print them out, let them chat about how funny they look and then have them write about what it would be like to be 100 years old using this page from my resource above. Add the photo to the writing and use this as a bulletin board or hang outside the classroom.

Here is a photo taken using the "Old Age" app on my iphone:
UMMMMMM...I am not sure I want to post this...I think I better get a Botox treatment or maybe a few 100!

 I always enjoyed reading these frames.
One child one year filled it in like this:

My name is Grandpa Clark.
I am 100 years old. I have chipped, yellow teeth and white hair.  I feel tired because I take naps all day long.
I remember when I was a child I used to love to run.
Now I just sit.

I hope you have a great time celebrating 100th Day of School and perhaps you might be able to incorporate some of these ideas!!
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