When CJ started kindergarten in September we were anticipating homework from day one to get him in the groove. I wasn’t expecting anything big but maybe a worksheet to finish from the day. That didn’t happen. His new teacher eases the kids into work and homework started around mid November. I spoke to a few parents and they were not happy about it (neither was the Mr.) but I just felt like it gave me more time to get him up to speed.
I was lucky to have a friend whose son also had the same teacher, and she saved all of the homework projects (SCORE!) and gave them to us in the summer. Even though I had them I can honestly say I didn’t stick to them like I should have (*sigh* I’m such a slacker sometimes) but I did utilize other tools that really helped. Here are a few of my favorites.
CJ has known his alphabet in song since he was 2 years old, he sang it all the time. He could even identify the letters as long as they were in order. As he got older he started to be able to identify them even out of order but not as easily, that has since changed. The next step was to get him writing. I can honestly say that I felt defeated in that before we even got started because CJ is left handed. I psyched myself out with that and thought if I could teach myself to write really clearly with my left hand it might help (it did a little) but what really made the difference were these cards.
These cards are often used by kids in Montessori programs and are made of sand. The cards have a coarse touch and allow the child to feel what writing the letter feels like. CJ didn’t like them at first complaining that they hurt his finger tips but I can assure you they are not rough enough to hurt, my son can just be a tad dramatic. Now he loves them and when I take the box down he’s ready to go. Even though he has now mastered writing the letters I still use the cards and think I will way into at least the first grade. The cards run about $35.00 on Amazon and are worth the investment. For the DIY moms out there here is a link for making your own: DIY Sand Letters.
So we got to a place of ease with writing letters thanks in part to the Montessori sand letters and CJ’s teacher introduced with the first batch of homework the Dolch sight words. Dolch sight words are the 220 most common words and 95 nouns found in children’s book. The Pre-Primer and Primer words should be mastered by the end of kindergarten to give a comfortable start in 1st grade reading. I was kind of excited about this because I’m a big reader and I read to CJ every night so CLEARLY he is going to take to this like a fish in water right? UHM yeah not at first. We started with flashcards, he took to them for all of a day before just getting silly and not wanting to use them. I was frustrated, my husband was BEYOND frustrated and that only lead to CJ being frustrated. So what did we do, we turned to technology, the iPad to be exact. There are tons of apps to be used but the most basic and distraction free is ABC Sight Words.
This app contains sight words from Pre-Primer to 3rd grade and has a separate link for Nouns and cost nothing! It’s one of the best free apps we’ve used. Easily navigated a voice guides the kids through each word allowing the kids to hear the word, each letter (when touched) and more importantly trace each word. This app saved a lot of lives on the way to summer camp(how’s that for a review). Once he was comfortable using the iPad we added the flash cards back into the mix.
So this has worked so far, the challenge is keeping him from getting bored, tired and frustrated. I have a few tricks up my sleeves though. I made myself a promise to review all the tools I’ve been using good and bad because I’m sure I’m not the only parent out there trying to figure it out.