Most families know how important reading with their children is. But by the middle of the year, some families may simply have run out of energy for a regular at-home reading activity. That’s where a midwinter reading night can be helpful. Here are some ideas for making your event a success:

  • Serve a simple meal. Nothing draws families like food!
  • Plan a variety of fun reading-related activities, such as puppet shows, story tellers and reading activity centers.
  • Provide parents with simple instructions and strategies for reading with their children.
  • Allow children to take home a free book. These books can be donated by a local service organization.

 

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Print vs. digital media: Which is better for students?

From digital textbooks to school-issued tablets, educators often wonder about the effectiveness of technology in the classroom. Studies on student learning with digital media versus print media found that:

  • Students prefer to read digital content over print content.
  • Students read digital content faster than they do print content.
  • Students believe their comprehension is better when they read digital content than when they read print content.
  • Students’ overall comprehension is better when they read print content.

So, what does this mean for educators? Experts recommend that they consider the purpose of a reading assignment when choosing the medium to use. If students will be asked to perform a basic skill, such as finding the main idea of an article, the medium doesn’t seem to matter. However, if a reading assignment will require deep comprehension, students may benefit from reading it in print.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

A new report from Renaissance Learning found that students who started the school year as struggling readers but ended the year at or above benchmark read just six minutes more each day than struggling readers who did not meet benchmark.

What Are Kids Reading? 2019 Report, Renaissance Learning, Inc.

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The transition from preschool to kindergarten can seem daunting to young children and their families. Set the stage for a smooth transition by providing opportunities for preschoolers and elementary students to connect and interact throughout the year. Here are a few ideas:

  • Invite classrooms of preschool students to visit the elementary school during a school day. They can tour the building, watch classes in session and even eat in the cafeteria.
  • Start a reading buddy program. Have elementary school students visit preschools and read to younger students.
  • Invite preschool students and their families to attend some of your family events and school performances.

 

Solicit feedback to improve your transition program

The best way to evaluate the success of your kindergarten transition program is to ask those who have been through it! Survey current families and ask them:

  • What part of our transition program did you find the most helpful?
  • What part of our transition program did you find the least helpful?
  • What information do you know now that you wish you had been given before your child started kindergarten?

 

Quote of the Day

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“When we make progress and get better at something, it is inherently motivating. In order for people to make progress, they have to get feedback and information on how they’re doing.”

Daniel H. Pink

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Research links family engagement to improved student math skills in elementary school. Here are some key findings from one study:

  • Parent engagement activities—such as parent workshops, math activities in school, math nights and math progress reports—improve parent support for home-school partnerships. This results in a higher percentage of students proficient in math on state achievement tests.
  • Math homework that involves demonstrating and discussing math skills with a family member is associated with higher percentages of students scoring at or above proficiency on standardized math achievement tests.
  • Sending home game packets and other math activities parents and children can do together is associated with higher percentages of students attaining proficiency on math achievement tests.

—S.B. Sheldon, J.L. Epstein and C. Galindo, “Not Just Numbers: Creating a Partnership Climate to Improve Math Proficiency in Schools,” Leadership and Policy in Schools.

 

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Share math resources with families

If you want families to engage in math activities at home, give them a list of fun websites and apps to try. Here are three educator-tested sites to include on your list:

  • PBS KIDS (pbskids.org) provides hands-on activities, digital games and videos focused on math.
  • Speakaboos (www.speakaboos.com/stories/math) introduces a variety of interactive storybooks with mathematical themes.
  • Bedtime Math (bedtimemath.org) offers families with kids ages 3-9 ways to have fun with math together.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

According a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, students’ personalities may influence how they perform in math and reading. Researchers found that intellectual curiosity and confidence had a significant effect on students’ math and reading proficiency.

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Teachers can play a critical role in helping students and their families prepare for the future. By offering information and opportunities to communicate, they can help young students achieve their dreams. Encourage teachers to:

  • Help students see the connection between what they are learning in school and the workplace.
  • Invite parents and community members to your classroom to talk about their jobs and how they use subjects like math and English on the job.
  • Create assignments that help students plan for the future. Give them the assignment of writing about how they see their life in 10 years. Then list the steps they’ll need to take to get there.
  • Convince students and parents that college is an option. Many low-income students and their parents think that college is out of reach.
  • Take field trips. Invite students and their parents on a field trip to a nearby college.

 

Give families the college and career information they need

Many parents feel that schools don’t provide them with enough guidance or information about preparing students for life after high school. Consider sending home a survey to find out what topics families are most interested in learning about. Here are some topics to include in your survey:

  1. Higher education options.
  2. College entrance requirements.
  3. College entrance exams.
  4. Managing college applications.
  5. Writing college essays.
  6. Scholarships.
  7. Filling out the FAFSA.

 

Quote of the Day

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“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”

H. Jackson Brown Jr.

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When students spend too much time in front of screens, they can experience eye discomfort, otherwise known as digital eye strain. Signs of digital eye strain include:

  • Headaches.
  • Neck or shoulder pain.
  • Irritated eyes.
  • Reduced attention span.
  • Negative shift in behavior.
  • Inability to focus.

Encourage students to follow the 20-20-20 rule: For every 20 minutes they spend staring at a screen, students should turn away from the screen and look at an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds or more. This exercise helps students relax their eye muscles.

 

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Boost attendance at school events

Want to improve parent attendance at school meetings and events? Try these four strategies:

  1. Shorten events.
  2. Promote parent connections. Parents who feel comfortable talking with at least two other parents at the school are much more likely to participate.
  3. Give plenty of notice.
  4. Advertise the event with written invitations, social media, automated phone calls, emails and text messages.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

According to The Vision Council, nearsightedness has increased 66% over the last 30 years. Many experts believe that excessive screen time is a contributing factor to this increase.

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