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2015

grade_one_transitions_644x362.jpgMost Ontario children starting Grade 1 this year have had the full day experience with Kindergarten already, but that doesn't mean the transition will be easy.

 

Starting Grade 1 can be a point of pride for kids. They are done with Kindergarten and are big kids now, but they are now sharing the hallways and lunchrooms and schoolyards with a lot of even bigger kids.

 

So the first few weeks may be ones full of jittery excitement, tears or even severe anxiety. We have put together the following tips to help your family through this transition:

 

 

Before School Starts:

 

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  • Validate nervous feelings. “It’s really important to first validate children’s feelings by acknowledging that it’s okay that they have certain uncomfortable feelings,” says Christie Hayos, a clinical social worker at the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre in Toronto. Let them know that these feelings are normal and probably the same feelings other kids are having.

  • Get familiar with the school. Before the first day of school, visit the school with your child so that the route, the building, and school surroundings become familiar.

  • Start the routine early. About a week or so before the start of school, begin putting your child to bed at a normal time for a school night. For a week before school starts, be sure your child then gets up, dressed, and fed like a regular school morning.

  • Practice being organized. “Some children have difficulty keeping track of their belongings,” says first grade teacher Giovanna Smith. “They do not know what is theirs. They need practice to get dressed and to get organized.”

  • Review safety rules. If your child is taking the school bus, review the school bus safety rules with them. Also, make sure everyone knows how to walk to school safely.

  • Let your child be a part of the planning. “Children need to see what mom and dad have purchased for them so they can recognize it at school with 20 others that look the same,” says Smith.

 

 

What to expect in the Grade 1 classroom:

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Every Grade 1 classroom is different. Since the emergence of Full Day Kindergarten, many Grade 1 classrooms have had to change too.

 

But things parents can expect, according to Smith, are desks or tables set up for collaboration, a word wall, a large gathering space and areas for inquiry, reading, quiet thinking and researching. Some of these elements may be similar to the set up of their Kindergarten room, some of these elements may be new to your child.

 

 

How to support your child's learning at home:

 

Smith suggests the following:

 

  • Encourage independence. Your child will need to learn to work and problem-solve independently at school so make sure that independence is also encouraged at home. In other words, let kids dress themselves, put on their own shoes and do things for themselves.

  • Maintain a consistent schedule. Have a bedtime that you stick to so that your child will be well-rested for school. Get up at the same time and eat breakfast.

  • Provide a healthy lunch. Pack a lunch kids are capable of opening and closing themselves. Remember most schools encourage packing reusable containers instead of using disposable bags or wrappers to keep the level of garbage down.

  • Label everything. Yes, even pencils and crayons, says Smith.

  • Encourage “why” questions. “Let them be curious,” says Smith. You don’t have to know the answer. Helping your child figure it out is part of the fun.

  • Play games with your children. Choose games where children have to make choices and solve problems.

 

 

What to do if your child seems to be struggling with the transition:

 

iStock_000021226838Small.jpgAfter the first few weeks, your child should feel fairly comfortable in Grade 1. If your child is still having problems into October, there could be a deeper issue. Hayos has these tips to help:

 

  • Think of what is typical for your child. “If you have a child that is typically not anxious about going back to school or has low levels of anxiety about going back to school, and all of a sudden this looks much different and the levels of anxiety are much higher than before, you may want to investigate more and ask the child more questions,” says Hayos.

  • Empathize with your child. Let your child know you understand something is wrong and you want to help.

  • Name the problem. Identify the specific problem your child is having. If your child doesn’t want to go to school, why?

  • Work with your child to put a plan in place. “Often kids have really great ideas about how they could get support,” says Hayos. Children like to feel that they are actively a part of, and have some kind of control over, the future. “When they know the plan, when they are part of it, they are likely to feel more successful and to buy into the plan,” says Hayos.

  • Work with the teacher. The teacher works with your child on a daily basis and probably has experienced similar issues with other children. The teacher will often have very helpful ideas to rectify the situation.

  • Get help elsewhere. If none of the above works, contact your family doctor.

aboriginal_education_644x362.jpgBrain Development

  • can count to 100
  • likes taking responsibility for simple household chores
  • likes to make simple decisions
  • asks endless "how-what-when-where-why" questions
  • continues to refine concepts of shape, space, time, colour and numbers
  • speech should be completely intelligible and socially useful
  • should have all vowels and the consonants and sounds m,p,b,h,w,k,g,t,d,n,ng,y, f, v, sh, th
  • speech becomes more social, less egocentric
  • may still reverse printed letters, for example D and B
  • enjoys planning and building
  • has longer attention span
  • should be able to tell one a rather connected story about a picture, seeing relationships between objects and happenings
  • starts to understand the difference between intentional and accidental
  • still a tendency to focus attention on one aspect of an object while ignoring others
  • still has a short attention span (about 15 minutes maximum)
  • concepts formed are crude and irreversible

 

Inside the Brain

  • myelination of corpus callosum of the frontal lobe continues
  • dendritic complexity in the brain increases in order to facilitate the formation of memory
  • electrical activity of the brain gains coherence allowing the brain to better integrate the past with the present
  • memory strategies begin to develop
  • improved connections between temporal and parietal lobes of the brain lead to dramatic reading and vocabulary development
  • dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex of the brain are nearly the same as an adult, allowing improved focus and concentration

 

Emotional Development

  • needs to be right about everything
  • feels sensitive to criticism
  • may argue or lie to avoid blame
  • may have unpredictable mood swings
  • sees things as black and white, right or wrong, very little middle ground
  • generally enjoys caring for, and playing with, younger children
  • may become upset when behaviour or schoolwork is ignored
  • has a problem admitting a mistake
  • feels quite guilty about making mistakes
  • begins to understand differences of opinion

 

Social Development

  • being friends becomes increasingly important
  • shows interest in rules and rituals
  • wants to play more with similar friends e.g. girls with girls, boys with boys
  • may have ‘best friend’ or ‘enemy’
  • shows strong desire to perform well
  • begins to see things from another’s perspective but is still very self-centered
  • values independence
  • evaluates self and friends
  • begins to impose rules on play activities
  • cooperates with other children with some difficulty
  • has difficulty considering the feelings of others
  • likes dramatic play

 

Physical Development

  • loves active play but may tire easily
  • can be reckless (does not understand dangers completely)
  • still improving basic motor skills
  • skilled at using scissors and small tools
  • shows development of permanent teeth
  • enjoys testing muscular strength and skills
  • has a good sense of balance
  • can tie shoe laces
  • enjoys copying designs, shapes, letters, and numbers
  • may have gawky, awkward appearance
  • still not well coordinated
  • begins to learn some specific sports skills like batting a ball
  • dawdles much of the time
  • is fascinated with the subject of teeth
  • permanent teeth erupting, both front teeth or molars
  • may become a more finicky eater
  • uses crayons and paints with some skill, but has difficulty writing and cutting
  • may resist baths

 

As every child is unique and there is a wide range of what’s ‘normal’ at every age, it’s important to remember these lists are guidelines only. If you are concerned about your child’s development, see your doctor.

Sources: AboutKidsHealth, The Hospital for Sick Children, Health A-Z, Developmental Stages, Ontario Ministry of Child and Youth Services, Ontario Early Years Centres: A Place for Parents and Their Children,The Developing Brain: Birth to Age Eight, by Marilee Sprenger, Your Child’s Growing Mind: Brain Development and Learning from Birth to Adolescence, by Jane M. Healy, Ages and Stages, by Lesia Oesterreich, M.S.,extension human development specialist, Human Development and Family Studies, Iowa State University and “Learning from mistakes only happens after age 12, study suggests,” from Science Daily, Sept. 27, 2008.

bike.jpgBrain Development

  • experiences rapid language development
  • wants to be first, best, perfect, correct in everything
  • is greatly concerned with right and wrong
  • evidence of organized, logical thought
  • still has difficulty with the concepts of honesty and dishonesty
  • begins to use logical reasoning to solve problems
  • should have mastered the consonants s-z, r, voiceless th, ch, wh, and the soft g sound as in George
  • should handle opposite analogies easily: girl-boy, man-woman, flies-swims, blunt-sharp, short-long, sweet-sour, etc.
  • there is the ability to perform multiple classification tasks, order objects in a logical sequence, and comprehend the principle of conservation
  • thinking becomes less egocentric
  • understands such terms as: alike, different, beginning, end, etc.
  • should be able to tell time to quarter hour
  • should be able to do simple reading and to write or print many words
  • is capable of concrete problem-solving
  • can sort unlike objects into logical groups where previously sorting was based on superficial attributes such as colour
  • may still reverse printed letters, D and B, for example
  • enjoys planning and building
  • has longer attention span

 

Inside the Brain

  • myelination of corpus callosum of the frontal lobe continues, dendritic complexity increases in order to facilitate the formation of memory
  • electrical activity of the brain gains coherence allowing the brain to better integrate the past with the present
  • improving connections between temporal and parietal lobes of the brain lead to dramatic reading and vocabulary development
  • synaptic density in the frontal lobes of the brain peaks and pathways between the frontal lobes and the limbic system lead to better impulse control, greater independence, improved planning and acceptance of responsibility
  • growth in the Broca’s area of the brain allows children to begin to understand things like irony and sarcasm
  • memory strategies continue to develop

 

Emotional Development

  • becomes better at expressing negative feelings through language
  • may blame another for own mistake
  • finds criticism or failure difficult to handle
  • sees things as black and white, right or wrong, very little middle ground
  • generally enjoys caring for, and playing with, younger children
  • may become upset when behaviour or schoolwork is ignored

 

Social Development

  • continues to enjoy dramatic play
  • plays with boys and girls together
  • usually has a best friend of the same sex
  • being friends becomes increasingly important
  • shows interest in rules and rituals
  • wants to play more with similar friends e.g. girls with girls, boys with boys
  • may have ‘best friend’ or ‘enemy’
  • shows strong desire to perform well
  • begins to see things from another’s perspective but is still very self-centered
  • begins to look for role models
  • shows growing concern about popularity among peers
  • seeks approval of peers as well as adults
  • takes it upon self to enforce rules
  • tattles on other children perceived to be misbehaving
  • tends to be quite critical

 

Physical Development

  • can ride a bicycle
  • still has better large muscle than small muscle coordination
  • begins to alternate rigorous and restful activities independently
  • skilled at using scissors and small tools
  • shows development of permanent teeth
  • enjoys testing muscular strength and skills
  • has a good sense of balance
  • can tie shoe laces
  • enjoys copying designs, shapes, letters and numbers
  • may have gawky, awkward appearance
  • has more refined eye-hand coordination
  • favours competitive games
  • may ask questions about life, death, and the human body
  • still preoccupied with subject of teeth

As every child is unique and there is a wide range of what’s ‘normal’ at every age, it’s important to remember these lists are guidelines only. If you are concerned about your child’s development, see your doctor.

Sources: AboutKidsHealth, The Hospital for Sick Children, Health A-Z, Developmental Stages, Ontario Ministry of Child and Youth Services, Ontario Early Years Centres: A Place for Parents and Their Children,The Developing Brain: Birth to Age Eight, by Marilee Sprenger, Your Child’s Growing Mind: Brain Development and Learning from Birth to Adolescence, by Jane M. Healy, Ages and Stages, by Lesia Oesterreich, M.S.,extension human development specialist, Human Development and Family Studies, Iowa State University and “Learning from mistakes only happens after age 12, study suggests,” from Science Daily, Sept. 27, 2008.

happy_travels.jpgBrain Development

  • is often idealistic
  • is keenly interested in projects and hobbies
  • is proud of completing tasks
  • resists adult guidance at times
  • has organized, logical thought
  • is able to perform multiple classification tasks, order objects in a logical sequence, and comprehend the principle of conservation
  • may still reverse printed letters, D and B, for example
  • enjoys planning and building
  • has longer attention span
  • thinking becomes less egocentric
  • is capable of concrete problem-solving
  • can relate rather involved accounts of events, many of which occurred at some time in the past
  • complex and compound sentences should be used easily
  • should be few lapses in grammatical constructions: tense, pronouns, plurals
  • all speech sounds, including consonant blends, should be established
  • should be reading with considerable ease and now writing simple compositions
  • social amenities should be present in speech in appropriate situations
  • control of rate, pitch, and volume are generally well and appropriately established
  • can carry on conversation at a rather adult level
  • follows fairly complex directions with little repetition
  • has well developed time and number concepts

 

Inside the Brain

  • accelerated growth of the prefrontal cortex begins at age 8
  • the brain reaches 90 percent of its adult weight by age 8 and organization for memory begins
  • from 8-9 children learn best through positive feedback due to the development of their cognitive controls centre in the brain, meaning negative feedback, or learning from your mistakes, remains a challenge
  • the brain strengthens its ability to learn as myelination of fibres speeds associations between senses and ideas
  • some research suggests by age 8 or 9, synaptic growth in some areas of the brain will be limited compared to the early years and will continue to be throughout life
  • children are no longer learning to read but are reading to learn

 

Emotional Development

  • is easily embarrassed
  • begins to realize others experience similar feelings of anger, fear, and sadness
  • sees things as black and white, right or wrong, very little middle ground
  • generally enjoys caring for, and playing with, younger children
  • may become upset when behaviour or schoolwork is ignored
  • becomes discouraged easily
  • is often self-deprecating

 

Social Development

  • enjoys secrets
  • can be argumentative and bossy
  • can also be quite lovable and responsive
  • being friends becomes increasingly important
  • shows interest in rules and rituals
  • wants to play more with similar friends e.g. girls with girls, boys with boys
  • may have ‘best friend’ or ‘enemy’
  • shows strong desire to perform well
  • begins to see things from another’s perspective but is still very self-centered
  • shows increasing ability to understand the needs and opinions of others
  • is preoccupied with finding compatible friends
  • also likes to belong to more structured adult-led groups such as Scouts
  • begins to display a sense of loyalty
  • shows some hostility towards the opposite sex
  • no longer wants to assist in household chores
  • especially likes to belong to informal "clubs" formed by children themselves

 

Physical Development

  • continues to be accident prone, especially on the playground
  • has more control over small muscles, and therefore writes and draws with more skill
  • skilled at using scissors and small tools
  • shows development of permanent teeth
  • enjoys testing muscular strength and skills
  • has a good sense of balance
  • can tie shoe laces
  • enjoys copying designs, shapes, letters and numbers
  • may have gawky, awkward appearance
  • displays a casual attitude towards clothing and appearance
  • may agonize over height and weight
  • seems to possess boundless energy

As every child is unique and there is a wide range of what’s ‘normal’ at every age, it’s important to remember these lists are guidelines only. If you are concerned about your child’s development, see your doctor.

Sources: AboutKidsHealth, The Hospital for Sick Children, Health A-Z, Developmental Stages, Ontario Ministry of Child and Youth Services, Ontario Early Years Centres: A Place for Parents and Their Children,The Developing Brain: Birth to Age Eight, by Marilee Sprenger, Your Child’s Growing Mind: Brain Development and Learning from Birth to Adolescence, by Jane M. Healy, Ages and Stages, by Lesia Oesterreich, M.S.,extension human development specialist, Human Development and Family Studies, Iowa State University and “Learning from mistakes only happens after age 12, study suggests,” from Science Daily, Sept. 27, 2008.