Teaching Kids The Three R's

Reading:

Majority of the kids love being read to. For most kids reading on their own happens around the Kindergarten time, which is in par with the state's expectation. For a kid who does not love being read to, it is a rough ride for the parents. Our older kid belongs to this minority group. Surrounding such kids in a wide variety of books will help for some. For some a theme might help. Others might find picture books more helpful. Repetition is useful for some. Fantasy might help some while for others it might be way out of their league. There are numerous articles and books written on this topic, but the fundamental truth is every child is different.

For our older kid, fantasy had no role. However, she could relate more to everyday scenarios theme based on animal characters. She especially found 'Franklin the Turtle' series to her liking and these were the basis for most of the book reports for Grade 1. Her kindergarten teacher got her access to more books from the same series. The younger one loves Franklin, but is receptive to a variety of others too. Other favorites are Berenstain bears, Arthur and DW, Curious George, Henry and Mudge, and Frog and Toad. The library plays a vital role in fostering a love for reading. In addition to their choices, we try to supplement with variety. Kids do not shy away from poetry and so we make it a point to include them whenever possible.

Getting a kid to comprehend what they read is dependent on the child's maturity level. Building a repertoire of words helps immensely. You know you have it nailed when they can gather information from the context and continue on with the reading.
Though both our kids we are not quite there yet, we do see the horizon now and then.

Since we both read a lot we expected our kids to get the habit as second nature. Alas! Little did we know that all the reading we did after the kids slept was not helping them. It is imperative that you model it when they are awake.




Writing:

The ability to write words with the correct spelling does not come naturally for most kids. We do make the kids spell out words that were hard for them three times over whenever possible. We quickly learnt three was the magic number. Anything more prolonged the agony. Help in sounding out each syllable phonically goes a long way. Also, some kids get a special kick in trying to spell out harder words correctly.

The first time the kids were able to get a page copied down without major mistakes, we celebrated it by letting them mail it to their grandparents. The unadulterated joy on the grandparent's part on receiving the letter had a positive effect on the kids to better their effort. En route home from their first ski trip on Dad's birthday they made four sentences to write to their grandparents on how they marked the day. That was their first own letter and we let them mail it out too.

Writing is enforced a lot at the schools too, with special attention devoted to grammar, punctuation and usage. We follow along on those lines at home too.

Arithmetic:

Of the three R's arithmetic is indeed the hardest for many. Getting the kid to visualize the concept of having two pencils in one hand, three in the other and combining them is a corner stone for addition. Patience is key! Also, new concepts when introduced had a tendency to overwrite existing concepts. Repetition is essential for enforcing concepts. We had on numerous occasions turned to the web for worksheets and had also subscribed to an online educational tool. We were late in realizing that abstract concepts became crystal clear if they were based on food.

The unwritten rule in our house is that we do not offer rewards for learning. That said, we do need to admit that when we bought an analog watch for our niece we got a second one too for our older one at the same shipping fee. The kid learnt to tell time in two days flat and earned herself a 'real' watch. The cool factor associated with it had our younger one scorn digital watches completely.

Another concept that went in fairly easily was the currency concept. The tooth fairy was generous by leaving two dollars per tooth and the kids quickly learned how to stretch it by quantifying and dividing things beyond our expectations. Money speak is universal.

Chutes and ladders is one of the fun games that anchored addition concepts. Others have suggested the beneficial effects of chess to an intelligent mind. We are yet to explore that venue. Monopoly is another game that was suggested, but we are yet to open score there as well.

Sibling rivalry plays a positive role in that the kids are hawkeyed when it comes to dividing treats and counting seconds when it comes to waiting for turns.


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Last Updated: 10/2016.

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