Tips, Strategies, Ideas and All Things Reading for Families
Welcome to the Winter 2016 edition of Reading Roundup, my online newsletter for families. I'll share ideas for reading at home with your child, as well as articles and links to helpful websites and fun activities. At school, I work with struggling readers to improve their reading skills, but EVERY child will benefit from reading at home. Please let me know if you have questions about reading with your child or if there is a particular topic on which you would like to know more. I welcome your feedback and suggestions.
Mrs. Jennifer Helton
Setting Mid-year Goals
The first semester of the school year is complete and the second semester has just begun. Now is a great time for your child to set goals for the remainder of the school year. Even young children can set goals about what they would like to accomplish. Each of us, children and adults alike, are more likely to work to achieve a goal that we have set for ourselves rather than one that has been set for us. Below are some ideas for how to set realistic, attainable, yet challenging goals.
- Start with the positive. Take a look at your child's most recent report card or school work and ask them what they feel is their area of strength. This gets them to think about the things they're good at, and how far they've come since school began last fall. Be sure to praise progress, not just grades.
- Discuss an area for improvement. There's always room for improvement! Talk with your child about an area in which they would like to improve or get better. Feedback and input from teachers can be extremely helpful, but a goal set by your child will be the goal they'll want to achieve.
- Set a goal. Be specific. The more specific, the more attainable the goal. For example, if your child wants to improve reading skills, help them focus on a specific goal. Young students are eager to read chapter books, but many find them challenging at first. Suggest a goal of completing a chapter book (at an appropriate level) by the end of the month. If math is the area in which your child chooses to work, set a specific goal based on the areas in which he struggles. Multiplication facts can be challenging, so setting a goal of learning the multiplication tables 1-5 by the end of the month could be a reasonable goal. Starting with a small portion of the multiplication facts, rather than facts 0-12, will help your child focus his efforts and see results.
- Make a plan. Talk with your child about what steps will need to be taken to improve. For example, if your child wants to read that chapter book, discuss ideas for including more daily reading. Help your child plan when and where this reading practice will take place. Even a few minutes of extra reading practice can make a big difference. If mastering multiplication facts is the goal, help your child figure out when and where extra math practice can fit into the schedule.
- Follow-up. Check in with your child each week to see how they are progressing. Is the plan working? Are they taking the time to do the work or does a new plan need to be made? Encourage your child to reflect upon their own progress and come up with ideas to keep moving forward. It's okay if the first plan doesn't work! First plans often fail, and that is okay. Make sure your child understands that the PLAN needs to be fixed, not them.
- Celebrate success! Learning is its own reward, but children often need something a little more tangible. Did she read the chapter book? Take a trip to the local library to pick out another book. You can often check out multiple copies of the same book so you and your child can both read the book and discuss it together, much like a book club.
- Keep trying. Often the biggest lessons are learned through mistakes. Encourage your child to try, even if things aren't going well.
Setting goals will help your child realize that there are things that take a lot work and effort, but the payoff is the feeling of accomplishment and confidence that can carry them through school and beyond!