Tools to Support Learning at Home

Back to School Readiness by Jennifer MillerI’ve been spending time setting up our home environment to support my son’s learning. These first few weeks of school, he has shown a number of emotions moving from worried to frustrated to panic-stricken consistently related to homework time. The amount and difficulty of his homework has significantly increased in his third-grade year already. And with a new teacher who clearly has high standards for performance, he has not only carried home a backpack filled with books and worksheets but also, a list of concerns that he won’t be able to manage it all.

Shortly after school began, he blurted out his biggest worry.

“Homework has to be perfect!” he said with a look of earnest, wrinkles showing up between his brows.

“Did your teacher say it has to be perfect?” I asked really wanting to know as I continue to learn more about this new person in his life.

“No.” he said quietly.

“Okay. What did she say was the point of homework?” I asked hoping she actually spent some time talking about its purpose.

“She said homework is for practice.” he responded. I felt grateful that the teacher articulated a logical reason for the purpose of homework and decided to homework-purpose-statementuse it as a mantra for our homework time. I posted the following on our bulletin board on E’s table as a reminder.

There are important conversations related to research swirling around about whether or not assigning homework truly contributes to learning. But regardless, homework is still a reality for most students. And supporting homework – and generally supporting learning at home – is a role parents play throughout the school year. I recently posted an article on Getting Set Up for Homework Success with specific ideas about the roles parents can play related to their child’s homework.

In addition, I thought I’d share with you some of the school tools I’ve pulled together for our home environment to support learning. Check it out!

These are the standard tools and supplies we keep nearby his homework space.

This bin contains all of the necessary writing and project tools along with counting cubes for math problems.
This bin contains all of the necessary writing and project tools along with counting cubes for math problems.
We have a large binder in which to keep all papers that come home.
We have a large binder in which to keep all papers that come home.
For K-1, we used this bead set for math problems. An abacus works well for this purpose too.
For K-1, we used this bead set for math problems. An abacus works well for this purpose too.
We have already used these dictionaries multiple times. I want E to get in the habit of looking up words he doesn't know (versus asking me what they mean).
We have already used these dictionaries multiple times. I want E to get in the habit of looking up words he doesn’t know (versus asking me what they mean). Also, I don’t speak Spanish but he is learning it so our family will use that dictionary to practice conversing with him in a second language.
We also keep some science reference books at the ready because they are of high interest to him.
We also keep some science reference books at the ready because they are of high interest to him.

 

 

 

 

Because homework time can be stressful for both E and I and he is, at times, restless and unfocused, I sit down with him to help him get started. I keep my adult coloring book nearby to begin a calming activity for myself while he works.
Because homework time can be stressful for both E and I and he is, at times, restless and unfocused, I sit down with him to help him get started. I keep my adult coloring book nearby to begin a calming activity for myself while he works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supplementing School Learning

No school can possibly do it all. That reality became clear when my partner and I went to visit public and private schools around the city and suburbs trying to find a school community that best fit our family’s needs and hopes. There are learning goals we have for our son and our family that just aren’t a steady part of his educational curriculum right now. So we supplement in our home life in the best ways we can. Here are a few of the commitments to his learning we’ve made as a family. I’ve acquired tools to help promote those goals in the coming school year.

Emotional Learning

emotions-posters-by-lakeshore
Poster pictures of children displaying various emotions.

We are committed to promoting E’s emotional intelligence. Although learning about emotions should be a core part of a school’s curriculum, it is such a critical life skill that it’s part of our home curriculum as well. We are constantly learning more about how to identify feelings in ourselves and others. I found these awesome posters (shown below) at Lakeshore Learning (a teacher supply store), a series of pictures of children with varying emotions. I’ll be rotating these posters on our refrigerator as a guessing game throughout the year. Can you guess which emotions these children are displaying?

Social Learning

cultures-of-the-world-by-lakeshore
Poster pictures of children from various countries around the world.

We are also committed to helping E gain exposure to other ways of thinking and differing cultures to broaden his perspectives on the world. He attends a school in which most kids are a similar color, income level and religion. It’s critical to us to find other ways to expose him to people of varying colors, creeds, income levels and cultures. I found these gorgeous posters of children from a variety of countries around the world. The poster set includes ideas for games and also a paragraph description about each of the countries from which the children poster-packs-by-lakeshoreoriginate. We plan to post one per week and have a family dinner in which we talk about that country.

We have also set a goal, thanks to the NBC Parent Toolkit #Goaltobegreater campaign, to do service regularly as a family in our local community. We examined needs and E chose between two opportunities to serve. We will be distributing food to those who need it and hopefully in the process, learning about people of differing income levels and circumstances than our own.

As you go about assembling your own social awareness tools, don’t forget to visit the Global Exploration page under “Kid Resources” on the Confident Parents, Confident Kids site. You’ll find photos of children in a variety of settings around the world as well as other websites that will allow you and your family to explore other cultures, creatures and places.

Body Understanding

As E grows and comes into more of a sense of his identity, he also needs to understand more about his body and others’ bodies about-my-body-booksand how they work. I’ve gathered a number of books on the topic so that as questions arise, we can use them as references and look up answers.

 

2 Comments on “Tools to Support Learning at Home

  1. A really good blog. L,M On Sep 8, 2016, at 11:21 AM, confident parents confident kids wrote:

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