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The school to home link is very important to me. Many people view today’s education as starting and stopping in the classroom. Learning is an ongoing process and needs to continue from the classroom to home and back again.
But parents tell me all the time that they don’t know how to ‘teach’ their children, forgetting that they were their child’s first teacher. In order to help with this misnomer I have several school to home activities that I provide for my families.
To continue social studies concepts and topics, Gilligan the Traveling Gator goes home with a student on Friday of each week. Gilligan contains cards directing his weekend family as to what they need to collect. For example as we were going through the regions of the United States Gilligan would want to collect items that were indigenous to the specific regions.
When we were focused on basic geography skills Gilligan would seek out examples of landforms or certain vocabulary. As we moved into the wars Gilligan would request pictures of items from our historical timeline. Activities like this are not only fun for the younger students, but also bring the parents up to speed on what we are talking about in class.
I also send home what I call ‘Baggy Books’. These are books that have been a little well-loved in my classroom library that I have sorted through and categorized according to reading levels. I simply put several of the same-level books into a gallon-size ziplock baggy, put a label on the front with the date and the child’s name and a place for the parent to sign that the baggy has been read aloud. The child returns the baggy and I send another set home. These titles are also included on the child’s monthly book list. One hundred books read equals a trophy. Parents don’t have to worry about having to find their own books to read or choosing too easy or too difficult books for their child.
Another item I send home on a regular basis are ‘Skill Bags’. Again, these are games that I have either made out of lost pieces, purchased with my scholastic points, or are file folder games that were left over after that center trend passed (did anyone else stay up FOR HOURS coloring, cutting and laminating all of those pieces???). I simply put one game in a gallon-size ziplock bag (we go through a lot of these), label the concept it covers, include a label with the date, child’s name and a signature line and send it home. The kids love these! I love the fact that not only do these cover concepts that need to be reviewed, but it also gets the kids away from digital devices. Some of the games also require a partner, which helps get the parent or an older sibling involved in some quality time. When the Skill Bag is returned, I send another one home.
We are on a constant rotation of all of these bags and yes, it does take time to organize and send them all home. Once a routine is established the process goes quickly. And not every child is returning a bag every day. Some students will keep a baggy for a couple of days, others may keep it for a week. Since I have a collection on the front of the baggy I also have an at-a-glance visual for who has had each bag so it’s not duplicated.
How do you encourage the school-to-home link?