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Keeping the Balance with Home Learning

Annette Conley has been teaching for more than 30 years. Currently, she is the Reading Specialist at Thoroughgood Elementary in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Annette is a lifelong learner who is passionate about finding the balance in education, especially in literacy instruction. Annette has been writing lessons and doing literacy presentations for the VDOE. Follow Annette on Twitter @Amconley49

As a reading specialist, I am comforted by the news that I am hearing – that the majority of parents are really trying to follow the lessons and suggestions from their children’s teachers. We are so fortunate in Virginia Beach that so many of our students have internet access and are using the digital formats that our teachers are sharing with them.

My concern with home learning is my same concern for learning at school – balance – balance between reading, writing, and speaking, balance between decoding and comprehension, balance between using technology and paper pencil activities, between E-readers and real books – balance in all things literacy.

So, I’d like to offer some old fashioned literacy ideas for reading, writing and speaking that don’t involve using technology. Here are some suggestions that I hope parents will find helpful for elementary aged children.

There has never been a better time for students to journal. Staple or tape pieces of paper together and allow your children to decorate the first page as their writing journals. Then, each day, have your children write the day of the week and the date on a page in their journals. Encourage them to write about their activities, what they are missing the most, what they are liking the most, what they are doing to keep learning, what you are talking about at the dinner table – just write!!

Running out of books to read? No problem! Have your children read what’s in the kitchen. Read the cereal boxes, read the canned goods – what ingredients can they not pronounce? Have them choose 10 words from a can or box and write them down – how many syllables are in these words? How many phonemes (individual sounds) are in the words? What is the author’s purpose for putting these words on the food containers? Have them choose 5 words to write in sentences. Have them put the words in ABC order. Can they think of words that rhyme with these words? Did the authors use any complete sentences on the labels? Have them write a recipe for foods they find.

Kindergarten and 1st grade students may not be able to read the labels on foods, but they can look at the labels and dictate words that they see from the pictures.

Are there cookbooks in your house? Have your children read recipes and tell you why the steps are in the order that they are. How about directions to videogames or other things in the house? Your children can read the directions and see if they make sense. Have them write directions for you to follow – directions for cooking, playing a game, riding a bike, or their favorite things to do.

Your children need to practice reading aloud as well. Have them choose something to read orally to you every day. They can read the pages that they write in their journals to you, or you can write your own journal and have them read what you wrote.

Have your children act out a favorite book or TV show. Have them act out the directions for how to do something and see if you can guess what they are acting out.

It’s a great time to play Headbands. Put a word or picture on your forehead where you can’t see it and have them give you clues so you can guess what’s there.

Your children have great imaginations that need to be tapped into. Work together to write a story – who will the characters be? Where will the story take place? What problem will the character have? How will the character solve that problem? If you’re running low on paper, you can tell each other stories. We need the children to talk and express themselves as much as possible.

Ask your children to brainstorm what they can read and write about. Giving them choice in reading, writing, and speaking will keep them engaged and wanting to learn.

Thanks for all you are doing to keep your children learning during this time. You were your child’s first teacher. You’re a natural! Keep up the excellent work!


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