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How to Stimulate Your Child’s Love of Reading

How to Stimulate your Child’s Interest in Reading

A question that is often discussed among some of my friends is, “How can I stimulate my child’s interest in reading books?”

There are many ways to stimulate reading and I will list some ideas which I have found effective.

  1. Read with your child from an early age.  Pick books that have compelling story lines such as those by Mo Willems for your little ones.  The choral reading in these books is great for interaction between parent and child during story time plus the plot lines are just plain fun.
  2. Another way to stimulate interest is to model reading yourself.  Pick up a newspaper in the morning or a book at night.  Children will observe you reading and be more apt to want to learn to read or continue reading themselves.
  3. Go to the library or join a book club such as Literati (Literati Kids).  Literati is a bit pricier but guarantees a steady stream of high-quality reading material.  The library is just a no brainer for books and fun story times.
  4. Establish a reading time each day/night for your child.  For early elementary it is often 20 minutes in the evening.  For my preschooler we often do a half hour of books right before bed.
  5. Provide a variety of reading material.  Some of the books may be about interests and hobbies and others just for enjoyment.  Provide both fiction and non-fiction to choose from.

Finally encourage your kiddos and be their cheerleader.  Encourage all activities that require reading.  Best of luck in your literary endeavors!!

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Teaching Kids Vocabulary and a Love of Words

Teaching kids to love the English language and how to dissect words to discover their meaning is not always easy.  In my time as a teacher and then as a tutor, I have taken many different approaches to this pedagogy.  Most recently I have embraced a Unit 1-12 bundle on root words, prefixes and suffixes which has proved outstanding (Root Words, Prefixes, & Suffixes Units 1-12 Bundle by Literacy in Focus (teacherspayteachers.com).  offered through TeacherPayTeachers.  Each page offers short exercises on a new root word, prefixes or suffixes.  I usually keep these lessons short and focus on one affix at a time.   

Another activity that my kids absolutely loved for vocabulary building involved graduated paint chips.  I would start with a single word such as microscopic and then have students write synonyms based on the strength of the color and the meaning of the word.  For instance, microscopic would be on the palest pink paint chip and small would be on the most saturated paint chip along with variations in between.

I also like to rely on age appropriate mad libs to expand vocab and learn about parts of speech.  Mad libs has been around forever and pretty much guarantees fun for all ages plus it requires that students reach for words in their vocabulary

Finally, I have found using this “Words You Often Use” list (attached) to be invaluable for spelling and vocab with my students.  I usually leave it on their desks for reference as they are writing.  It is perfect for quick reference.

Subtraction with Borrowing Done Two Ways

Many parents are scratching their heads as different methods of subtraction with borrowing are introduced in schools.  I will explain the common core method here and hopefully shed some light on the process.

Subtraction with borrowing using the traditional method goes like this:

I introduced this in my last post.  With the traditional method a 10 is borrowed from the 84 and added to the 4 to become 14.  This is the method that most parents are familiar with.

Nowadays many schools are introducing common core subtraction with borrowing which looks more like this:

This method has more to do with place value.  The first step that the student must undertake is expanding the number 625 to 600, 20 and 5.  Also, the student needs to expand the number 186 to 100, 80 and 6.  Essentially writing out the 100’s 10’s and 1’s place.  As you can see from the chart the student then borrowed a 10 from the 20 and added it to the 5 to become 15.  From there the student then borrowed 100 from the 600 and added it to the 10 to become 110.  The problem is then solvable using subtraction from there.  The final step is to add 400+30+9=439.

Many students are very used to writing numbers out in expanded form so this type of problem solving should not be much of a stretch if this is a method they are comfortable with.  I personally prefer the more traditional method of subtraction with borrowing but this could just be because this is how I was taught in elementary school.  I think it is helpful to know both methods as schools are increasingly teaching different styles of problem solving to students.

Subtraction Done Two Ways

I am continuing my blog series on common core math problems explained.  Today’s blog focuses on subtraction done two ways.

The first way that we will discuss is the method that parents are most familiar with which is subtraction with borrowing or regrouping.  An example can be seen here:

This is the method that makes most sense to most parents because it is how we were taught.  In this example a ten is borrowed from 84 and added to the 4 to become 14.  The problem becomes solvable from here.

Common core subtraction is entirely different from subtraction with borrowing or regrouping.  The following is an example of it:

With a problem like 62 minus 14 you start with the 14.  You then figure out what you need to add to get to 20 which is the closest ten.  This answer is 6.  You keep adding tens until you reach the top number in the tens place (60).  You then add ones to make the whole number (62).  You then add together the column of tens and ones (6+10+10+10+10+2) to get your answer.

I personally prefer subtraction with regrouping because I think that the common core way requires too many steps.  However, many schools are teaching common core.  Hopefully this brief tutorial will help clarify the process for both methods.

Food for Thought: Two different ways to approach Division

Many parents are scratching their heads as schools are teaching different methods to do math problems.  Take, for example traditional long division.  There is traditional division and common core partial quotient division.  In order to simplify the approach we will take a look at both methods.

The approach that most parents are familiar with is traditional division as modeled here:

Often teachers will teach a mnemonic: daddy, mommy, sister, brother to help students remember the steps.  This stands for divide, multiply, subtract and bring down.  The approach is fairly formulaic and once memorized fairly easy to implement.  The trick is always remembering the steps.

Common core partial quotient division is entirely different from traditional division.  Below is an example of it:

Partial quotient involves a lot of estimating.  In this problem the student would begin by estimating how many times 8 goes into 136.  The student chose 10 so the 10 goes to the right.  The student then multiplies 8×10 and gets 80.  The next step would be to subtract 80 from 136 and the answer is 56.  Now the student estimates how many times 8 goes into 56.  The exact answer is 7 and the 7 goes to the right.  The answer is achieved by adding 10+7=17.

Some of my students that are homeschooled naturally gravitate towards one method or another.  In some cases schools might prefer one method over another.  Both can be learned with patience and repeated practice.

Preventing Summer Brain Drain: Some Tips

After the crazy year we’ve had many parents are wondering how to prevent summer brain drain which is nothing new in the education world.  There are some easy ways to approach this trend in learning:

  • Read to your child and have your child read to you.  This is hands down a really easy and efficient way to make sure your child isn’t losing the decoding skills he or she has already attained.  Block out a little time for this each day and you will be amazed at the results!
  • Engage your child with educational apps and technology.  There are so many educational apps and websites out there that are great for supplemental learning.  Although screen time often gets a bad rap, when supervised by an adult certain apps and websites can be great supplemental education.  Some of my favorites are Endless Reader, Prodigy, Quizziz, Khan Academy and Blooket to name a few.
  • Go on educational, hands on outings with your kid.  They will love the time spent with you and learn while doing.  Museums, zoos and farms are all fantastic learning opportunities.
  • If you go on a vacation have your child write a postcard.  This will help with handwriting and is not a huge amount of writing so that the child is overwhelmed or sees it as a chore.
  • Use everyday chores and tasks such as baking and gardening as educational experiences.  Both can teach basic math skills and a love of the task at hand.
  • Take a break!  After the year we’ve had everyone needs the chance to relax and regroup.  This will be a gift you can give yourself and your child.

Keeping things Green During Covid-19

Beyond getting some fresh air and going on plenty of hikes how can we keep learning green during this most unusual time, even as things are opening up?  I have found online academic games to be a fantastic way to enrich learning during a time when students are home more than usual.  Prodigy is a free online math game which challenges Avatars with math battles.  It is highly imaginative as well as being excellent math practice and has captured the attention of many of my little learners.  Another game that I love is Blooket which has a fantastic database of math and ELA games and beyond.  This is also free and they seem to be adding games which keeps it interesting.  Quizziz is another great learning platform that I purchased but is a quiz show type game with a huge database of academic quizzes.  As an author, you can also create your own quizzes.  The students that I teach like this game for the content as well as because at different points in the game there are available powers such as time eraser (erasing the timer) and 2X the points for 1 question to keep it interesting.  Finally, padlet is a free learning platform which is great for creating timelines, image boards and more. As a tutor I have found it fun to incorporate a digital recess online in which students can discuss a question of the week or an item of the week such as a favorite toy.  Although we are all struggling to determine how much screen time to allow, the Internet makes it so that learning can be fun and educational.  And following all of this online learning, I have never underestimated the benefit of a good hike with my own daughter!