Can I Skip My Reading Tonight?

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Did you know one of the most prominent indicators of a successful reader is the amount of time spent actually reading? Let’s figure it out — mathematically!

Student A reads 20 minutes five nights of every week;
Student B reads only 4 minutes a night…or not at all!

Step 1: Multiply minutes a night x 5 times each week.
Student A reads 20 min. x 5 times a week = 100 mins./week
Student B reads 4 minutes x 5 times a week = 20 minutes

Step 2: Multiply minutes a week x 4 weeks each month.
Student A reads 400 minutes a month.
Student B reads 80 minutes a month.

Step 3: Multiply minutes a month x 9 months/school year
Student A reads 3600 min. in a school year.
Student B reads 720 min. in a school year.

Student A practices reading the equivalent of ten whole school days a year.
Student B gets the equivalent of only two school days of reading practice.

By the end of 6th grade if Student A and Student B maintain these same reading habits,
Student A will have read the equivalent of 60 whole school days.
Student B will have read the equivalent of only 12 school days.

One would expect the gap of information retained will have widened considerably and so, undoubtedly, will school performance. How do you think Student B will feel about him/herself as a student?

Some questions to ponder:

+ Which student would you expect to read better?
+ Which student would you expect to know more?
+ Which student would you expect to write better?
+ Which student would you expect to have a better vocabulary?
+ Which student would you expect to be more successful in school….and in life?

Busy Parents Guide

familyNo matter how busy parents are, there are things they can do to help their children. Parents of first- and second-graders in the “School Transition Study,” conducted by the Harvard Family Research Project, have discovered creative ways to stay involved in their children’s learning and development. Researchers conducting the survey learned important and useful tips to share with busy parents.

Use Your Time Well

  • Organize your time. One single parent of four who is going back to school tries hard to organize her class schedule so that she has time with her children. She is able to be home with them in the afternoons on most school days. In another family where the mother and father both work full time, they are able to organize their work schedules so that one of the parents is always at home with the children. One day a week after school, the children walk to their mother’s workplace where they wait a short time with her until their father picks them up.
  • Do a few things at once. One father arranges to do quiet household chores right beside his daughter who does her homework at the kitchen table. Then the father is there to answer questions. Another mother has her daughter start her homework in the family’s car while they are waiting for her older brother to get out of school. The car is a quiet place where they can talk together.
  • Find other people to help. One single parent who cannot be home in the afternoon or evening has the babysitter help the children with homework. Another single parent who works two jobs during the summer arranges for her son to get taken to his neighborhood summer program every morning by his grandfather, who lives nearby. When the program is over, the mother’s friend takes the child to football practice and then back home, where the mother serves everyone a late dinner.

Balance Work Schedules and Family

  • Do some school things at the beginning of the day. One single father in the study who works a late shift uses the morning when he is home to check over homework with his son. Then he takes him to school. Sometimes he will sit in the classroom and watch or chat with the teacher before he goes to work.
  • Make breakfast the big family meal. Another mother who also works late has her high school-aged daughter make a simple dinner for the younger children. Then the mother cooks a big hot breakfast every morning when she is home before the children go to school.
  • Do things differently on the weekend. One mother leaves for her job every morning before the children are up. But on Sundays she wakes them up early, so she can share time with them before she goes to work. A special thing for this family is eating lunch at the restaurant where the mother works.


Ways to Stay Involved with Your Child’s School When You Are Busy

Being involved with school is an important way to show you care about your child’s learning.

  • How busy parents stay involved at school. One mother, who cannot volunteer because of her work schedule, finds it easier to go to meetings at night, and has been to some school council meetings. Another mother volunteers to help keep things organized in the halls at the end of the school days, when she is there picking up her child. In a family where the mother is taking care of a baby, the father is able to help out in his older son’s classroom two hours a week.

Source: Early Childhood Digest, Sept. 1999, National Institute on Early Childhood Development and Education, and U.S. Dept. of Education, 202/219-1935.

40 Ways To Say “Good For You!”

starEveryone knows that a little praise goes a long way.  But a little praise really needs to be something more than the same few phrases, repeated over and over.  Students need more than the “traditional” teacher comments (good and very good), especially if you are trying to encourage a student.  These are phrases that parents can use, too!  Try these……

That’s really nice.
Wow!  That’s great!
I like the way you are working.
Keep up the good work.
That’s quite an improvement.
Much better.
Keep it up.
What neat work.
You really outdid yourself today.
I am pleased by this kind of work.
Good for you!
I’m proud of you.
You’ve got it now.
You make it look easy.
Your work is coming along nicely.
Excellent work!
I am impressed.
You’re on the right track now.
Very creative.
Now you’ve figured it out.
Superior work!
You’ve made a very good point.
I appreciate your effort.
That’s “A” work for sure.
You put a lot of work into this.
That’s the right answer.
Nice going!
Very interesting ideas here.
Good thinking!
That’s clever.
Super Job!
You should be proud of this.
Congratulations on the good score.
Right on!
Quality effort went into this work.
Fine job!
* Source:  N.S.E.A.

Practice Math Online


Number Cracker Game


Interactive Thermometer

Practice with Measurement   

Measurement with Ruler

Which is Heavier

Telling Time

Gumball Greater and Less Than

Seashell Round Up

Whack a Mole Counting Patterns 

Balloon Probability

Space Arrays 

Read a Magazine Online

Reading Comprehension Tips

Here are some tips for families to help their children become better readers. Reading Comprehension Newsletter

Reading Comprehension – How to help your child

Are you familiar with Reading Rockets website?  It has a lot of great information and activities for students, families, and schools.  Check out this webpage with information about helping your child with comprehension skills:

Touch Math

TouchMathAre you familiar with “Touch Math” or “Touch Money”?  Here’s a great explanation of how it works.

Reading Fluency Practice

Fluency Ideas

The Best Thing In The World

(This passage contains all of the 220 Dolch Basic sight Words. Please practice reading nightly for one week.  Time your child for one minute on this passage).

Once upon a time, there were four brothers who lived in a far away land.  Their father was an old king.  One day he said, “I will not live long now.  Today you must start out into the world.  In a year, bring back the best thing you have found.  The one who can pick the best thing shall be the new king.”  The first brother said, “I will look in every city or town.  I will buy the best thing I can for my father.”  The next two   brothers said. “We will both go on fast ships over the sea.  We will find something better.”  The last brother said, “I am going to ask the people here in our own land to tell me the best thing.”  The other three brothers began to laugh.  “Then you will never be king!”  They said.

The last brother started off.  When he had gone about six miles, he met a man.  “What do you carry in those big bags?” he asked.  “The best thing in the world,” said the man.  “These are full of the good nuts which fall from my five nut trees.”  “I don’t think that would work,” said the brother to himself, I must try again.”  The brother went on another seven miles.  He found a small brown bird.  It had been hurt, so he put it in his coat where it could keep warm.  As he went on, he saw a little girl crying.  He ran to meet her.  “Why are you crying?” he asked.  “I want to get some water from the well,” she said.  “We use so much.  We drink cold water.  We wash the clothes clean with hot water.  But I do not know how to pull it up.  Please show me.”  The brother said, “Hold this bird and I will help you.  It does not fly around any more because it got its wing cut.”  “Thank you.  What a pretty bird!” she said.  “I wish you would give it to me.  If you will let me keep it, I will always be very kind to it.  I will take care of it myself.  I will make it grow well again.”  “Yes, you may have it,” said the brother.  So he gave her the bird and went on.

At night, he went to sleep under a round yellow haystack.  When it was light again he walked on.  Every day he would walk eight or ten miles.  He asked the people about the best thing in the world.  Some said it was best to sing.  Some said it was best to run and jump and play.  Some said the green grass was best.  Some liked the red and blue and white flowers best.  One man said the best thing was to ride a black horse.  He always stopped to help people who needed it.  Soon he made many friends.  All the people began to like him.  They would say, “See there goes the king’s son.  He would be just the right kind of king for us.”  Every door was open to him.  The people would call to him to stop.  They would ask him to come and eat with them.  After he ate, he would sit down and read to the children.  After he read, he showed them how to draw and write.  Months went by.  He still had no beautiful thing to take to his father.  Just before the year was done, he went home again.

The time came when the king called his sons together.  “What did you bring?”  He asked them all.  The other brothers had many beautiful things.  “And what did you bring?” said the king to the last brother.  “This is too funny!” said the other brothers.  “He has nothing!”  But the king was kind to the last brother.  “What did you bring me?” the king asked again.  “I bring only the friendship of your people,” said the last brother.  “That is the best thing!” cried his father.  “You shall be the new king.”

Reading Sight Words


Sight words are words that a reader can recognize and read without sounding out each individual letter.  Many sight words are hard to sound out phonetically and must be memorized.  I suggest printing a copy of the sight word list and practicing. It is expected that second grade students can read most of the 1,200 words on the list without hesitation. Spelling the sight words correctly would be an added bonus since these words are used frequently in students’ writing.

Here are a few suggestions for how to practice learning sight words. boy_reading_1

  1. PRACTICE!  PRACTICE!  PRACTICE!  The more a beginning reader sees words and practices reading them, the easier reading becomes.
  2. MAKE FLASHCARDS  Flashcards work well for many students.  Each word should be written neatly on an index card.  Write large enough so the reader can touch each letter as they are saying the sounds.  In the lower right corner of each card, write the list number that the word is from.  Keep the cards for review.
  3. WRITE THE WORDS THAT ARE TRICKY Although learning to read sight words IS NOT a spelling activity, some people memorize things by repeatedly writing them down.
  4. USE COLORS With a colored marker or crayon, outline the shape of the word.  Pay close attention to blends, such as th, wh, sh, tr…  Blends should be underlined or boxed together so the reader has a visual cue to remember to say the sounds as one, not choppy as two.
  5. VOWELS Usually, when two vowels are together the first one does the talking, the last one does the walking. In the word coat, the o makes a long o sound and the a is silent (the first one does the talking, the last one does the walking.) An e at the end of the word is silent because it is tired from helping the other vowel say its name.  For example: In the word TAPE, the a says its name (a) and the e is silent.

(Reprinted from Karen Powell’s website)