Today we introduce a new column to MomsLA called Dear Marcy and Jackie. Every week, these two veteran teachers will answer your questions on everything from homework strategies to learning math to organization. Submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with Dear Marcy and Jackie in the subject line. In this first column Marcy and Jackie address some frequently asked questions by parents concerned about their children’s organization and reading.
Q. My first grader is learning to read. She knows her letters and their sounds (most of them), but instead of reading the words on the page, she’ll “read” the story by looking at the pictures.
A. Your daughter knows she can understand the story by reading the pictures, so why bother sounding out the words? Since she’s in the habit of relying on picture clues, we suggest you cover the pictures with your hands so you can help her focus on the words and letter sounds. Start out by reading a page to her, so she hears you read with fluency. Then read the same page together, in unison. Finally, ask her to read that page back to you.
She may complain at first, but eventually she’ll rise to the challenge. You can also work on a story together. Let Samantha dictate a story to you. Write it down, one sentence at a time on large index cards. No pictures. Then encourage her to read it back, one sentence at a time. She may be more motivated to read words, not pictures, if the words are her own. Later on, after she has read the individual sentences, mix up a few of the index cards and see if she can sequence the story. Finally, take out her books, the ones with the pictures, and watch her eyes. If she’s reading the words not the pictures, you’ve made progress.
Q. How can we help our middle school child become more organized when it comes to homework? Almost every night , when he can’t remember his assignments, we insist he call a friend or two or three to find out the assignments he forgot to write down in class. A few times we’ve even called his friends’ parents to see if they know what the assignments are. We bought him a calendar, but he’s not using it except to doodle. By the time we find out what the assignments are, we’re all exhausted and we don’t have much time to help him complete his work.
A. Do not enable his disorganization by calling others to find out the assignment or, worse still, doing his homework. He’ll never admit there’s a problem if you’re always rescuing him.
On the other hand, it’s perfectly all right to encourage him to set goals by writing down homework assignments as soon as the teacher announces them, and checking off the assignments as they are completed. Brainstorm strategies for achieving those goals. Share your home or office calendar, and you’ll inspire him.
MomsLA encourages you to send in your letters to email@example.com with Dear Marcy and Jackie in the subject line. Next week, we’ll publish more commonly asked questions.
Formerly an English teacher, Marcy Winograd now teaches government at a public LAUSD high school in South Los Angeles. Jackie Hirtz, MS Ed., a writer and writing coach, taught elementary school for seven years. Together, Marcy and Jackie have written for children’s television, print, and new media. Their most recent project is the tween novel Lola Zola and the Lemonade Crush available on Amazon.
Marcy and Jackie believe that learning must be engaging, enjoyable, and challenging and that it need not be a struggle. You can read more about Marcy and Jackie’s projects at http://lolazola.com/