Teaching My Baby To Read

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Don’t be confused by Reading Levels

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How do you know what reading level your child is on? For parents that’s a tough question but for teachers it’s easy.

Parents are bombarded by books from the library that all have their own system. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of these books are great. But “I Can Read” is different from “Step into Reading” which is different from  “Bob Books”. So saying your kid can read “level 2” is pretty meaningless. Level 2 of what?

Teachers are bombarded too. There are a gazillion ways to measure reading level. But if you have the right tool, it’s easy. Here are some examples:

As a former teacher/parent, I’m most interested in my kids’ Guided Reading Level. I even have many of our books marked. If my kid can read a book marked J, then I immediately know he’s at the J reading level.

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But let’s make things even easier! Here are some guidelines to help you ferret out your child’s reading level in general.

Entering Kindergarten: Knows many letters and a few sounds.

Exiting Kindergarten: Able to read about 25 words. A good goal would be to be able to read Level 1 Bob Books.

First Grade: Able to read simple sentences. Not a lot of stamina. A good goal would be to read Bob Books Levels 2-4 or some of Dr. Seuss.

Second Grade: Working on stamina. A good goal would be to read “Frog and Toad are Friends” by Christmas, and “Magic Tree House” by June.

Third Grade: This is a BIG year! Third grade is when kids jump from “learning to read” to “reading to learn“. By third grade, kids should be able to read chapter books like “Ramona Quimby Age 8”.

Fourth Grade: Chapter books with deeper complexity. The books are harder and the critical thinking capabilities are too. Check out The CIA Approach for more ideas.

All kids progress at different levels. So don’t freak out if your child is progressing in a way that’s different from the spectrum I just presented. But if you do have further concerns, click here for help.

Butterfly Salad

Math on a plate.

Math on a plate.

Today my 4-year-old and I got out Cooking Is Cool: Heat-Free Recipes for Kids to Cook by Marianne Dambra. I am a little disappointed in the book because it doesn’t have step-by-step pictures for children to follow and it uses a lot of food coloring. But the full color illustrations of each recipe are nice.

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Here’s our version of Butterfly Salad. The actual recipe called for dyed cottage cheese, which I thought was gross, so we used grapes instead.

Ingredients:

  • lettuce leaf
  • pineapple rings
  • cottage cheese
  • grapes or berries
  • celery stalk (the body)
  • 1 olive (the head)
  • a carrot or bell pepper (the antennae)

Math Skills Involved:

  • counting
  • fractions (cut the pineapple rings in half)
  • comparisons (more cottage cheese, less cottage cheese)
  • ordinal numbers (first you do this, second you do that, etc.)
  • symmetry (the goal is to make the wings look the same)

This recipe took about twenty minutes to make. My daughter and I both had a lot of fun!


Cooking Is Cool: Heat-Free Recipes for Kids to Cook

Why this Kindergarten teacher is confused by Kindergarten

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Here’s my “I Brake for Moms” column from today’s Everett Herald. We decided to register our daughter for half-day Kindergarten with an intent to Afterschool.

http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20140216/BLOG5205/140219461/Kindergarten-options-put-parents-in-a-tough-spot

Afterschooling Plan for Working Moms

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Afterschooling isn’t just for stay-at-home parents. There are a lot of ways you can provide meaningful instruction to your children using what would otherwise be dead-time.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot to offer teens yet, but here are some ideas for K-8:

  1. Carschooling –so easy, so effective. Ask the grandparents to buy CDs for Christmas, or else check them out from your local library.
  2. Dreambox Math –perfect for K-5. Have your kids play Dreambox while you get dinner on the table. Consider making 15 minutes of Dreambox a requirement to earn screen time.
  3. ClickN’ Read Phonics— K-3 phonics curriculum on the computer. I haven’t tried this, but it gets good reviews.
  4. Bedtime read alouds –be sneaky! For young readers, Bob Books can “unlock” stories you hate. For older readers, try using the CIA approach on your next chapter book.
  5. Hands On Equations –definitely worth the time. For older kids, if you can find an extra twenty minutes a week, Hands on Equations is really worth it. It will give them such an advantage in algebra, that you won’t believe it. Of all the math things I’ve blogged about, this is the curriculum that impresses me the most.
  6. Science Kits by mail— be a cool science mom, without having to plan anything. Seriously, almost everything you need (including a script) comes in the mail, ready for 30 minutes of fun. The catch is the kits are expensive, so you should wait for a Groupon or good deal on Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op. Sign up for my Facebook page, and I’ll keep you posted.
  7. Highlights Top Secret Adventure Kits –project based geography that come in the mail. Your 7-12 year-old solves puzzles, looks for clues, and reveals the villain while learning about that month’s county. Unfortunately, like the Young Scientist Club Kits, these are really expensive, so you’d want to watch for a special deal.
  8. Story of the World Audio CDs –history kids probably won’t get at school. SOTW is a borrow from the homeschooling world. A college professor named Susan Wise Bauer has written four volumes of world history specifically for children. They cover ancient times to the present century. These CDs can be used grades K-8. I want my kids to listen to them every two years. I have a strong suspicion SOTW will help with AP tests someday.
Don't feel guilty that you're strapped for time!

Strapped for time but with a plan, that sounds like an awesome mom to me!

An Afterschooling Plan for Half-Day Kindergarten

In our neighborhood, full-day Kindergarten costs $3,600. Half-day Kindergarten is free, but is only two hours and 40 minutes.  All of the research I’ve read says that full-day Kindergarten makes a difference. I have an “I Brake for Moms” column coming out next Sunday, explaining the issue.

If you’d like to take a look at the research yourself, here you go:

Education.com’s Full-Day vs. Half-Day

Fact Sheet from the Children’s Defense Fund

Full-Day vs. Half-Dad Kindergarten; In Which Program Do Children Learn More?

In our neighborhood, if you take out all of the minutes from lunch and recess, full-day Kindergarten means 5 hours and 15 minutes of instructional time per day. Half-day Kindergarten is 2 hours and 25 minutes. (Please note, I don’t mean to be dismissive of the importance of recess. Children learn a lot on the playground.)

So if we were to chose half-day Kindergarten, could I somehow Afterschool enough to get in the extra 2 hours and 50 minutes a day? Yes; definitely! Here’s how:

An Afterschooling Plan for Half-Day Kindergarten

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Language Arts Block, 60 minutes

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Choice Time, 30 minutes

  • Full-day kinders would likely be getting this at school. This thirty minute block would be a chance for my child (and I) to unwind while I got the next activities set up.

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Math, 30 minutes

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Specials, 30 minutes

Homework (from school), 20 minutes

TOTAL TIME = 2 hours and 50 minutes!

The cost of this Afterschooling plan would be about $350, including the uber-expensive science kits. I could splurge and get the Highlights kits too, and still come in way under $600. Or I could go the other way, and do the whole plan for practically nothing. I’d just swap about the math section for this page of free activities here.

What’s half-day Kindergarten like in your state? Are you stressing out about registering your child for Kindergarten too?