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Elementary School Kids Elementary School Kids

Welcome to Elementary School Kids, "Ask the Teacher" post!

Ask anything and we will do our best to give you an honest, informative reply. 


I've been teaching elementary school for 15 years. My master's degree is in reading education and I'm certified in Exceptional Student Education, and ESL. I've taught a variety of grades and more kids than I can count. 

If you'd like to check out the hundreds of questions that have already been asked and answered check the old post here and here

by on Jan. 16, 2014 at 4:24 PM
Replies (191-200):
maxswolfsuit
by Max on Nov. 28, 2013 at 8:49 AM


Quoting foxymomof4:

I have a 14 yr old boy who has been having trouble in school he attends a private catholic school he's been there since P-k. The school has grades from p-k to 8th and this is his last year he has been having trouble since 6th grade he's grades were really bad this year has been a little better but when it comes to test taking he just shuts down and 75% of the time he fails them. How can I help him, is there something he can do to improve and not be so scared of tests?

Did he have trouble taking tests in the elementary grades?

What makes you think it's a test taking issue rather than just not knowing the content?

maxswolfsuit
by Max on Nov. 28, 2013 at 8:56 AM


Quoting Howardx5:

Say you have a child who is advanced, reading 2-3 levels above the grade they're in. School policy says children cant skip a grade or be placed in a giften program until a certain grade, regardless of the childs test scores- what do you do to challenge the child? 

Do you make them sit through the lessons being taught and make them wait around (sit quietly. put head down. re-do a paper that was not done wrong the first time) until the other kids catch up? Do you give that child more challenging work? ...What do you do?

That's a pretty typical situation. I usually at least 4 or 5 students that read a few years above grade level each year.  

Yes, they still have to participate in lessons during class. Just because they tested above grade level doesn't mean they know all the content of the grade level.

When I give assignments I give the students a time frame for the earliest they can turn it in. (usually 15-20 minutes)  That's to ensure they take their time and do the work. When that time is over I allow the students who are done to work on something else or read at their desks. 

I generally don't give more challenging work in the form of worksheets. I push the kids with their independent reading to ensure they are choosing books that will challenge them. I may also offer projects or activities to enhance learning. But I have found that students resent being given worksheets or "extra work" to challenge them.  Plus most of the time without instruction to prepare them for it there is little instructional benefit anyway. 

maxswolfsuit
by Max on Nov. 28, 2013 at 9:04 AM


Quoting Stevensmomma:

My ds is in kindergarten and knows his letters and the sounds they make and can write them very well But he is having trouble with reading we do flash cards of what words he is learning in class and he remembers them but only when they are in the same order he learned them in so I know he is not really learning them any suggestions on how to teach him better? He also cries a lot bc he doesn't want to do it so that makes it harder...

Try having him hunt for the words he's learning in books you are reading to him. Sight words are found commonly in all texts so you shouldn't even have to look for specific books. 

You can start by having three of the flash cards where he can see them. Talk to him about the letters in each word and the shape of the word. Point out the letters that go up high above the other letters (like l, h, or d) and the ones that go below the others (like g, p and j).  After you've read a page have him search for the words you are practicing. Teach him to scan using his finger below the words to hunt for them. After he's found them a couple of times move the cards one at a time and have him look for them without using the flashcard. You can also have him look for them before you read the page. 

Another activity would be to give him post it notes and have him mark the sight words he knows with them in the book before you read it. Then when you get to the word stop and let him read it. 

Using real books to teach the words is more fun. But it also connects learning the words to real reading.  You were very smart to realize the flashcards weren't really teaching him the words. Learning words in isolation rarely helps kids learn to read. 

maxswolfsuit
by Max on Nov. 28, 2013 at 9:09 AM


Quoting IzzyBashir:

My son is in 1st grade. His teacher, actually the third one this year...don't ask, doesn't want them to use their fingers to count on. How do you feel about this? Is this the new way of teaching? I don't think they have their math facts rememorized enough to not use their fingers.

At this point in first grade I do think it's time for kids to transition away from using fingers to memorizing. 

It's a hard thing to do. But if students keep using their fingers they may never memorize their facts. I tutored a seventh grader recently who was still counting on his fingers. Stopping it now will prevent it from becoming a habit. 

maxswolfsuit
by Max on Nov. 28, 2013 at 9:11 AM


Quoting SlightlyPerfect:

How does one explain death to a 5-year-old child?

That's a difficult question. I think the answer really depends on your personal, spiritual beliefs. As a teacher I wouldn't explain death to a student.  I wouldn't want to risk disrespecting their family's values. 


foxymomof4
by on Nov. 28, 2013 at 1:24 PM
He has always had trouble with test he has always been a good student and gets good grades. He knows what the content because I study with him and when he brings the test already graded I'll ask him the questions and he answers them correctly. Also when it come to focusing for a long periods of time he gets distracted very easily at school and home.

Quoting maxswolfsuit:


Quoting foxymomof4:

I have a 14 yr old boy who has been having trouble in school he attends a private catholic school he's been there since P-k. The school has grades from p-k to 8th and this is his last year he has been having trouble since 6th grade he's grades were really bad this year has been a little better but when it comes to test taking he just shuts down and 75% of the time he fails them. How can I help him, is there something he can do to improve and not be so scared of tests?

Did he have trouble taking tests in the elementary grades?

What makes you think it's a test taking issue rather than just not knowing the content?

Stevensmomma
by on Nov. 28, 2013 at 8:40 PM

Thank you so much for the suggestions i will have to try this with him !! I also just bought him the Nabi so hopefully that will help him to and make it more fun so he doesnt cry about it.

Quoting maxswolfsuit:


Quoting Stevensmomma:

My ds is in kindergarten and knows his letters and the sounds they make and can write them very well But he is having trouble with reading we do flash cards of what words he is learning in class and he remembers them but only when they are in the same order he learned them in so I know he is not really learning them any suggestions on how to teach him better? He also cries a lot bc he doesn't want to do it so that makes it harder...

Try having him hunt for the words he's learning in books you are reading to him. Sight words are found commonly in all texts so you shouldn't even have to look for specific books. 

You can start by having three of the flash cards where he can see them. Talk to him about the letters in each word and the shape of the word. Point out the letters that go up high above the other letters (like l, h, or d) and the ones that go below the others (like g, p and j).  After you've read a page have him search for the words you are practicing. Teach him to scan using his finger below the words to hunt for them. After he's found them a couple of times move the cards one at a time and have him look for them without using the flashcard. You can also have him look for them before you read the page. 

Another activity would be to give him post it notes and have him mark the sight words he knows with them in the book before you read it. Then when you get to the word stop and let him read it. 

Using real books to teach the words is more fun. But it also connects learning the words to real reading.  You were very smart to realize the flashcards weren't really teaching him the words. Learning words in isolation rarely helps kids learn to read. 


MomtoAlexis05
by on Nov. 28, 2013 at 10:18 PM

I have a daughter in 3rd grade this year, she just came home w/ a report card stating she needed help in reading fluency.....and that she works w/ a 'reading specialist' a couple time  week in additional room outside the regular classroom, well I was wondering what I could  do at home to help her out w/ this. Please respond  or pm me thanks~~

Jaide2883
by on Nov. 30, 2013 at 12:05 AM
My son is in 5th grade and is doing great in school- except reading an spelling. His reading isn't real bad, and I have him read w me nightly and he reads to this little brothers regularly but he doesn't seem to exactly process the meaning if you ask him about what he read. His spelling is AWFUL. No amount of prompting an practicing has seemed to help. Any suggestions
maxswolfsuit
by Max on Dec. 1, 2013 at 5:26 PM


Quoting MomtoAlexis05:

I have a daughter in 3rd grade this year, she just came home w/ a report card stating she needed help in reading fluency.....and that she works w/ a 'reading specialist' a couple time  week in additional room outside the regular classroom, well I was wondering what I could  do at home to help her out w/ this. Please respond  or pm me thanks~~

One of the best ways to increase fluency is reading the same short passages over and over. 

Here's a link to a page with passages for third grade. I haven't looked at all of them so I can't say it's exactly what I would use. But it should give you an idea of what you can use. 

Fluency passages are usually about 150-200 words on long. You time the student reading for one minute keeping track of any errors she makes. At the end of the minute count the words read and subtract the errors. That's the main reason to use passages designed for fluency, the words are counted for you. 

After she's done it review an errors with her or any words she stumbled on. Then give her the passage again. It also might help her to listen to you read it as she reads along. 

The goal is for to read 100-120 words a minute with a couple of errors or less. 

Have her do each passage for a few days or until she reaches that goal. 

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