Friday, January 27, 2012


Getting your children to finish assignments is a difficult task for some parents. Teaching your children study habits and organizational skills at an early age can help cut back frustration and poor schoolwork. Even though their academic achievement will benefit from this, these are life-long skills that will be helpful in many areas in your child’s life. Here are a few simple tips.

1. Talk to your child about school. Find out if there are any subjects that he finds intimidating or any that he looks forward to, and see how he feels about his teacher and his classmates.

2. Give your child a three-ring binder to hold her calendar and organize her assignments and notes. Encourage your child to write down her assignments in the calendar. For long-term assignments, help him/her decide how to break the project into chunks with specific goals set for specific dates.

3. Give your child a place to do schoolwork. Children do not mind unique or small spaces, so a corner with a pillow and a sheet draped over it or a space under a table may suffice if you have a small living space.

4. Limit distractions. This may include television, phones, computers and siblings or any other stimuli that can sabotage schoolwork. Turning off all electronics and limiting socializing allows your child to focus on the task at hand and reinforces the importance of schoolwork.

5. Ensure that your child gets breaks when needed. If you are a firm believer in all homework being finished in one sitting, let your child know that it is okay to switch between subjects if he needs a break. If your child has focusing problems, set a timer in short increments, then gradually increase the amount of time that he is working on a task.

6. Reinforce the use of the homework folder our elementary teachers use. Most school folders are labeled one side "Keep at Home" and the other side "Return to School." Make sure your child puts assignments, permission slips, calendars and other important papers in the folder. Go through the folder as often as you can with your child and then periodically check it after she has become accustomed to the routine.

7. Set an example. If you are in school, work on your schoolwork at the same time your child works on his. If you simply have household chores to do, designate a specific chore time, even if you realistically do chores at other times, and make that time schoolwork time as well.

8. Make it fun. Put an incentive chart in your house. Try to stay away from using the chart to earn intrinsic or extrinsic rewards; many children simply enjoy the stickers on the chart. If you also are in school, track your assignments with your child. If you are not, track your chores instead.

Read more: How to Help Your Elementary Child With School Organizational Skills |

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Learning how to interact with other children is an important part of a child's education. Teachers and parents can use a variety of activities to improve children's social skills. We must do all we can to help children become comfortable in social and classroom settings.


Show children how to express gratitude, deliver an apology or make a request. This is a fundamental and practical activity to help children improve their social skills. Saying "please" and "thank you" to peers and adults is a gentle and positive way to teach children good interaction skills. Manners are a valuable way of meeting people receiving positive responses will help children feel more comfortable in social situations. Encourage these pleasantries early and frequently, as an everyday social activity.


Music is a natural social bond, and children are not immune to its charms. Select songs for a group of children to encourage everyone's participation, even the most shy. Try to find a song that will appeal to everyone--consider using silly and lively songs.

Give the children copies of the song lyrics until they can remember the words. Try The Beatles' "Yellow Submarine" or "All Together Now," for example. Place the children in a circle or facing one another so they can all observe each other having fun and finding common ground in song and laughter. In addition to improving children's social skills, this also works well as an educational activity. Songs are great tools to teach children, for example, math skills, grammar rules or the names of the 50 states.

Strong Characters

Encourage role-playing. Have children--especially the more introverted kids--play strong characters and assert themselves. This activity gives children permission

to step outside of the shy roles they may have assigned themselves. Let them know they can be silly and over the top while still being polite. A parent or teacher also can play along and coax a shy child into participating by asking the child questions she will feel confident answering.

Make the role-playing exercise transparent. Help the children understand they need to work on improving their social skills. Ask a child to be assertive, authoritative, outgoing or funny as you approach him as a potential friend. Assure the child that it is not always important to say "the right thing," but instead to be himself. Urge children to have fun when meeting new people. Remind them that positive social situations stem from being honest, engaged and confident--not from being perfect.

Extracurricular Activities

The classroom experience, which focuses mainly on education, may not provide enough social interaction. Social organizations for children are abundant. Extracurricular activities give children a view of the world outside of their family and classroom. Give children a chance to experience a larger social environment.

Choose a group that fits your child's personality and interests. Athletic children may enjoy joining a sports team, such as soccer, football, basketball or softball. In addition to improving children's social skills, such groups can teach members how to work together, do their best and become responsible, caring individuals.

Monday, January 16, 2012


At Discovery School we recognize that each student is unique. One Size Doesn’t Fit All. Each child learns differently. That is why 3 years ago we adopted an assessment tool that would enable us to measure the progress that each student makes in his or her grade’s curriculum.

MAP tests are computerized adaptive assessments that test differently, allowing teachers to see their students as individuals – each with their own base of knowledge.

MAP assessments provide detailed, actionable data about where each child is on their unique learning path. Because student engagement is essential to any testing experience, these tests offer the students test items that interest children and help to capture detail about what they know and what they’re ready to learn. It’s information teachers can use in the classroom to help every child, every day.

MAP dynamically adapts to a student’s responses – as they take the test. The tests present students with engaging, age-appropriate content. As a student responds to questions, the test responds to the student, adjusting up or down in difficulty.

· Answer a question correctly and the test presents a more challenging item

· Miss a question, and MAP offers a simpler item

In this way, the test narrows in on a student’s learning level, engaging them with content that allows them to succeed. The result is a rewarding experience for the student, and a wealth of detailed information for teachers, parents and administrators.

This week, for the first time, Discovery School is implementing MAP for Primary Grades

in grade one. These assessments combine diagnostic tests and survey assessments to give you insight into your K-2 students' knowledge of core math and reading. Using these tests, teachers can:

  • Assess achievement levels of early learners so they can spend more time teaching and less time administering individual diagnostic tests.
  • Provide rich information to begin guiding a student's academic career thereby increasing the chances for early academic success.
  • Identify the needs of all primary students and inform individualized instruction.
  • Encourage student participation with engaging test items.

If you would like more information, please visit or ask your child’s teacher how this wonderful tool allows them to help your child in class.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


As parents and teachers, it is our job to train our children to grow to be successful adults. Productive routines are at the core of independence and responsibility. Children crave routines and thrive and benefit from them. Mornings are no exception, and mornings works best when there is a routine in place. Most children do fine as long as everything goes as planned in the mornings.

As an adult you can probably get out of the house in 10 minutes flat. In 10 minutes you can brush your teeth, shower, get dressed, and grab a quick breakfast. Add children in to the mix and there is no way you can get out of the house in 10 minutes. Your child may be one who constantly needs to go back to his/her bedroom to get one last thing, leading to a delay. Another child may need constant reminders to brush hair, teeth, and get ready. On the other hand, some children are early risers. The earlier he/she gets up the more compliant he/she can be. The important thing is to develop a routine that works for you at your home, and allows for a smooth beggining to the school dayl. Here are some things you may want to consider:

1. Wake Up Time - If you've got more than one kid in the house, and especially if you have a large family, consider staggering wakeup times for greater efficiency. Start with kids who need assistance first, or the ones who are real sleepyheads who move slowly in the morning. Does a parent really have to wake kids up anyway? Except for youngsters, kids can learn to awaken by an alarm clock and get themselves up without mom or dad hovering and yelling, "Are you up yet?" Let them decide what is the best time for the alarm to go off and get ready on time. If this means he/she doesn't get her hair braided or one doesn't get second helpings on cereal, encourage them to set their alarm 15 minutes earlier tomorrow. Cause and's a good lesson to learn!

2. Getting Dressed - Clothing, down to clean socks, underwear and shoes, and even matching hair accessories should be laid out each night before bed. Youngsters can play a role in choosing the outfit, but no changes are allowed once their head hits the pillow. And, then stick with it! The only exceptions should be an unknown tear or stain, or surprise change in the weather. This avoids missing socks, unmatched shirt and shoes, and keeps getting dressed a simple step in beginning the day vs. a looming battle.

3. Breakfast - Breakfast is important--some experts argue that it is the mostimportant meal of the day, so your kids need a nutritious start each morning. However, that start shouldn't put parents in a work bind or make kids late for school. Whether you have a weekly menu, or adhere to cereal and fruit, it is important to have a plan for what breakfast will be. Find something that works for your household and that your child(ren) likes.

4. Making Lunch - The night before, unpack the lunch boxes, clean out wrappers, and refreeze ice packs. If you have more than one lunchbox to pack, pack the same lunch. You know your child the best, so you know what your child likes to eat. Pack snacks and lunches that are acceptable. Lunch works best if all items that I need are in a convenient location. Ask your child what he/she likes to eat at school.

5. Backpacks, Shoes, Coats, Lunchboxes - Have the children pack their backpacks the night before to make sure homework is in the folder with notes to the teacher and permission slips. Place luncboxes, musical instruments, coats and any other object that needs to go to school the next day next to the backpacks.

6. Leaving on Time - When considering when to leave your house to be ready for the school bus or to drive to school, consider the following:

· time it takes to buckle child in car seat (if you have an infant or a toddler factor in the time it will take to get all your children in your car or van)

· time it takes to get coat, shoes, gloves on for all children

· time it takes to find the child’s school bag, lunch box, coat, shoes, spare supplies

· time it takes to drive to school/walk to bus stop

· extra time you may need if traffic is an issue in your area

Basically, leave yourself plenty of time. Children do not know the words “hurry up” or “let’s go.” Even if you are not the most organized person, you do realize that children need to live in an organized home. Stressed out parents = stressed out kids. “Plan” and “organize” are a happy parent’s favorite words.

Remember, it is never too late to establish routines. Look at what has worked so far, what is not working, and what will work in the future. Develop a plan with your children and then realize that you are responsible for training them step by step. If you use patience and understanding, your children will gladly participate in finding what works. Nobody likes a chaotic, hurried experience. After thirty days of intense training, your kids will relax into the pattern and the set routine. This will help them have a great day at school.