Activities II -- Helping Your Child Succeed in School

How Much Does It Weigh?

For children ages 5 to 7

Build your child's interest in math and science by helping him to observe, estimate and weigh objects at home.

What You Need

• Bathroom scale
• Objects to weigh, such bags of sugar, flour, potatoes or onions; boxes of cereal and cookies; shoes of different sizes
• Paper and pencil

What to Do

 Using simple bathroom and kitchen scales at home prepares children for using equipment in school to weigh and measure.
• Show your child two objects such as a five-pound bag of sugar and a ten-pound bag of potatoes and ask him to guess which weighs the most. Show him how to use a scale to weigh the objects. Have him record the weights.

• Next show him several objects and ask him to guess how much each weighs. Have him write his estimates, then weigh the objects.

• If you choose, have your child estimate his own weight, as well as that of other family members and use the scale to check his guesses.

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Start to Finish

For children ages 5 to 7

What You Need

• Pencil and paper
• Items used to do a job around the house, such as watering plants or setting the table.

What to Do

• Together with your child, select a job he usually does around the house, such as watering the plants. Ask him to make a chart like the one below, then write down or tell you the "Plan," "Do," and "Finish" steps needed to do his job well. Look over these steps together and talk about possible changes.

•  Plan Do Finish Get supplies 1. watering can 2. paper towels 1. fill can 2. water plants 3. wipe up spills 4. pick off dead leaves 1. throw away used towels and dead leaves 2. put away can

 Students who can plan a task are usually more successful and can do it in a shorter amount of time.
• List the "Plan," "Do," and "Finish" steps of one or two jobs that you do around the house. Ask your child to help you think of ways that you can improve each step.

• When you give your child a new task, help him to plan the steps so that he can do the job well and have a sense of accomplishment.

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Where Did I Put That?

For children ages 7 to 9

Older children also need help getting organized. Creating a special place for school items will help make mornings smoother for both your child and you.

What You Need

• Cardboard box
• Crayons or markers

What to Do

 Keeping all school items in one place helps teach children how much easier life can be when they are organized and plan ahead.
• Find a sturdy cardboard box or carton large enough to hold notebooks and other school things. Let your child decorate it with pictures, words or artwork and her name. Agree with the child about where to put the box. You might suggest a spot near the front door or the place where she does homework.

• Let your child know that her school things should go in the box as soon as she comes home from school. All homework and anything else she needs for school the next day also should go into it.

• Let your child make a rainy day box and put it in a different place (or make it a different color). Have her fill it with "treasures"—games, books, photographs, souvenirs and keepsakes. Invite other members of the family to put surprises in the box from time to time (no snakes or frogs, please!).

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My Place

For children ages 7 to 9

Children tend to argue over the same space (even in a big room). By having an area of the floor marked off, each child has a place that feels like his own.

What You Need

• Space—even a tiny area will do
• Small table
• Chair
• Lamp
• Small floor covering

What to Do

 Having a special place at home helps children to focus on what they are studying.
• Find a quiet study area away from the TV and radio for each child (even those not old enough to have homework yet).

• Put a rug or a section cut from an old blanket or sheet on a small area of the floor. Use this to mark off each child's private study space. Put the table and chair on the floor covering. This space does not have to be in the same place all the time. If the table is lightweight, the floor covering can be put down any place it is out of the way (such as near the kitchen if a child needs help as you are fixing dinner). It can also be put away when it is not being used.

• If the study space will always be in the same place, let the child try out different arrangements of the furniture to see what works best. Make sure she arranges the lamp so that the study area is well lit.

• Have her label items with her name.

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Making Money

For children ages 7 to 9

What You Need

 Children can be confused by money. Some might think that the larger a coin is the more valuable it is—so a penny or nickel would be more valuable than a dime. Playing counting games at home can be valuable in helping children deal with numbers and math concepts in school.
• Dice
• Pennies, nickels, dimes

What to Do

• This is a good game to play with the family. Have each player roll the dice and say the number. Then give the player that number of pennies.

• When a player gets five pennies, replace the pennies with a nickel. When he gets ten pennies, replace them with a dime.

• The first player to reach the set amount—25 or 50 cents, for example—wins.