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Developmental milestones

Social skills for school

My friend Karen has a 4-year old daughter with a September birthday. Karen is still trying to decide whether to send Sophie to kindergarten this fall, so she decided to enroll Sophie in our school's summer kindergarten camp. K camp is a 5-day morning experience designed to acclimate the kids to school and give the kindergarten teachers a chance to meet the kids, do some very preliminary assessments, and start thinking that class placements for the fall.

On the cusp of reading

This might be the most gorgeous description of a reader, just on the cusp of reading on her own:

At her age, "reading to yourself" means "reading out loud." Silent reading is perhaps a year away. I get caught up in listening. Can't help it! Such a delight, those confident trotting sentences and then the stumble, the try and re-try and a tap on my arm, "Mommy, what's this word?"

Talking about talking, and more

MT: I'm so glad Ian is finally really talking, but gosh; he never takes a breath now. It's exhausting!

AB: Our doctor brought up speech therapy by the end of the summer if MEB doesn't have some more words. She just turned two. How old is Ian?

Kindergarten "red-shirting:" What about summer birthdays?

It's that time of year when parents are facing a tough decision: another year of preschool for their child with a summer birthday? Or send them to kindergarten as one of the youngest in the class?

Report card comment redux

Thanks for your feedback on the report card comment two weeks ago. Your comments highlighted the need for balance between the need to provide parent-friendly information with the need to provide accurate, research-based information. In a perfect world, a good comment would do both.

How young is too young for cursive?

My friend Cathy called to talk about her daughter's first grade teacher. Lilly, her six year old, started complaining about school a few weeks ago, and over the past two weeks the situation has gotten steadily worse. Cathy finally coaxed it out of Lilly that the problem is all about handwriting. Lilly's teacher requires that all school assignments, including spelling tests, be written in cursive. In cursive! In first grade! Lilly's handwriting is apparently not up to par, and she's had to do lots of extra practice sheets to work on her cursive writing.

I bet she'll catch on by then

Rebecca commented on my last post:

How should the parent respond if the teacher says this: "Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Let's watch and see how she does through the holidays. I'm betting she'll catch on by then."

Great question, Rebecca. Thank you for commenting!

In some cases, that teacher might be right. The student might catch up and do just fine. In other cases, the teacher might be wrong, and a whole bunch of valuable time will have been lost.

Is it ever too early to worry?

We get lots of questions through our Ask the Expert service. Occasionally I'll post a question here in hopes of reaching a wider audience. Feel free to chime in with your own additions to my answer! If you're like me, you'll find yourself wanting to write a dissertation for each one.

What sounds to teach when?

I'm often asked what the best sequence is for teaching letter sounds. From the work done by the National Reading Panel, we know that systematic and explicit phonics programs teach children letter–sound relationships directly in a well-defined and predetermined sequence.

Most systematic phonics programs sequence phonics generalizations from least difficult to more difficult. Even still, there are lots of programs that teach letter sounds using lots of different sequences.

Still Touching Touchpoints

As a new mom, I feverishly read just about every parenting book I could get my hands on. Why wasn't Molly sleeping through the night? Why did she crawl on her belly rather than on all fours? Were her utterances in line with language milestones? Really, I must have driven my husband, friends, sisters and colleagues nuts with my conversation!

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"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase