May 31, 2016 -- We’ve all heard the saying, “Kindergarten is the new first grade.” But for parents whose children are currently finishing their kindergarten year, they might be left to wonder, “So, what does that make first grade?”
Family Connections is working to provide the answer. The local non-profit, which specializes in family support and family literacy, has been hosting free programs in select elementary schools for parents of students who will be entering first grade next year.
Motivated by a desire to slow summer learning loss, the Bridge Into First Grade sessions use kindergarten and first grade teachers to inform parents of grade level expectations and provide them with ideas and materials to engage their children in appropriate learning activities over the summer. The program will be offered at Gearity Professional Development School on Thursday, June 2 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and at Oxford Elementary School on Thursday, June 23 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. All parents are welcome to attend, with or without their children, regardless of their assigned school. A session already took place at Canterbury on May 19, with 37 attendees.
According to Gearity teachers Caren Golenberg and Sherri Malek, the biggest difference between kindergarten and first grade is the amount of independence expected of students. “Children are required to do much more independent work in first grade than in kindergarten,” where aides are available full-time to provide necessary support.
Students will move from learning initial letters, sounds and blends in kindergarten to reading fiction and nonfiction texts with fluency, accuracy and expression in first grade. They will also learn about main idea and supporting details, the text features of different genres, and how to attack unknown words using their own strategies.
In math, they will move from basic number awareness and one-to-one correspondence to problem solving using addition and subtraction, understanding place value and interpreting data.
Sounds pretty rigorous for six-year-olds, doesn't it? But Family Connections is providing easy ways for parents to reinforce these basic skills over the summer in ways that are fun and engaging. All attendees will receive a bag of materials including a deck of cards and dice for math games and instructions on how to create “reading question beach balls” and play I Spy A Word using flashlights.
The activities were created in conjunction with district Literacy Specialist Karen Heinsbergen and Math Specialist Fred Thomas. Intern Kristen Rodkey ensured that all materials were aligned with the district’s English language arts and math standards as part of her work toward a master’s degree.
All rising first grade families are welcome to attend one of the events, but are asked to pre-register by calling Family Connections at (216) 321-0079.