Help for Parents

Am I doing enough?

Watching the news, learning about people reaching out to help others made me realize I too can help.

To all the parents and caregivers teaching kids at home. The following is a lesson you can do with your child to improve their skills.

Children learn needed skills from writing and reading. Many schools teach these skills through writing and reading workshops. Gone are the days of 3 reading groups with students reading from the same reader followed by copying sentences from the board.

Today I will focus on writing with your child. In writing workshop each child works at their own level.

For Kindergarten and First Grade Parents:

All you need is paper, pencils, and crayons/markers. Begin by telling your child they will be keeping a daily journal. For younger kids, model what you would write. First verbalize what you want to say. Keep your sentences short. Say whatever comes to mind. For instance: “Today I will wash clothes.” You can increase the length of the sentence depending on the age of your child. After you say your sentence, write each word while your child watches. Say one word and then sound out the letters as you write the word. Begin with a capital letter and end with a period. Then read the whole sentence out loud pointing underneath each word. Make sure your child looks at the words while you are reading. (Pointing to words is a beginning reading skill that focuses your child’s eyes on each word. If they can track words already, you don’t have to include it in the lesson.)

Then ask your child to verbalize what they want to say. Remember to let them say whatever they want. Maybe they will say: “Today, I will play.” Your child should say the first word and write it, sounding out each letter. They might need help with some sounds: double vowel words, digraphs, and blends are difficult.

Then have your child read the sentence out loud pointing underneath each word. For younger children it might be necessary for you to hold their finger pointing to each word.

Tell your child to draw a picture about what the sentence says. The sentence: “Today I will play.” should include themselves with their toys. Then they can color the picture if they want to. Your child’s drawing is important as it tells you if they understand the meaning of the words in their sentence.

If your child is writing one sentence quickly with little effort, increase the number of sentences required. Some kids might be ready to write on one topic chosen by them. All of their sentences should center on their topic. First, let your child brainstorm ideas  verbally with you. Will they write about their favorite animal, ice-cream, friend, or sport?  Have them tell you what ideas they will include in their story.

Save all of the papers with your child’s writing. It’s important that your child writes and reads their writing every day! Before you begin, your child should reread all their past written work. 

Children learn many skills from writing. Writing and rereading sentences increases sight word mastery, spelling, comprehension and fluency of reading.

I taught elementary school for 30 years.

Stay tuned! Tomorrow I will focus on reading.

If you have questions or if there’s  something more you want to know about writing, please reach out to me.





  11 comments for “Help for Parents

  1. Kim Stafford
    March 19, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    Genius!! Great ideas and not just for parents.


  2. Janette Andrews
    March 19, 2020 at 6:41 pm

    Delighted to see you are sharing your talents in teaching children while they are quarantined at home. Love you – Janette


  3. Eileen Cunningham
    March 20, 2020 at 12:36 am

    Hi Toby, I sent your ideas to my daughter. Thank you so much. Great ideas. Hope you and Jim are staying healthy. Eileen


  4. Jean Kaminski
    March 20, 2020 at 4:50 pm

    So sweet of you to lend a hand and share your teaching skills. We are blessed with kids that love to read, it makes a difference in learning. I was a terrible reader, as was Jenny, but the kids love to read. She and Foster taught them well and read with them every night until they could read themselves. They stil read books together, but the kids like to read on their own in bed at night before lights out.


  5. March 20, 2020 at 6:06 pm

    I thought you had been a teacher. This was a delightful lesson for teaching basic reading skills. I’m send your post to my daughter who is a religious education teacher, but she’s also an English major. Florida schools are on “spring break” this week, but next Monday it’ll be back to school at the dining room table!


  6. March 27, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    Great post! Thanks so much.


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