Posted in Reading

How to help your child read aloud in class

​You remember how it was when you were in school. Popcorn reading is when a teacher asks the class to open a book, he or she starts to read then calls on a student to read next. Everyone must pay attention to the story and follow along in their books because we would never know who would be called next. We would try to learn the order the teacher used to call names. Were they going by the order of the desk or alphabetical order by last names? Was the teacher looking to see who wasn’t paying attention and then choosing students who looked lost or confused. This entire process was nerve-racking. So now that we are adults with our own children, how do we help our children learn to be confident readers?​

  1. It all starts at home. Have children practice reading aloud at home.
  2. Encourage your children to read often. Reading fiction books aloud can help build reading confidence in younger children. Fiction for younger children often have familiar words and repetition.
  3. Introduce your kids to new vocabulary words. Have them practice reading these new words out loud.
  4. And as always, encourage and praise children for doing their best. We want our children to enjoy the experience of learning. Praise and encouragement can help them find joy in learning.

Teach Your Children How to Read

Want to learn how to teach your kids to read at home? Check out our blog series on learning to read. The steps are easy and any parent can do it.

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Posted in Books and Reading

Start The School Year Off Right, With These Books!

Is your little one nervous about going to school for the first time? OR Are you a teacher looking for a book to help introduce a positive classroom dynamic? Starting fresh in a new environment, meeting a teacher and new classmates can seem overwhelming to children. This list of books will help students feel more comfortable about the new school year. Scroll down and choose a book to help start the school year off right.

List of books to read on the first day of school (Elementary / Primary School)

The Night Before First Grade! Written by Natasha Wing – Available on Amazon

It is the night before the first grade! Penny is excited to start the year with her best friend right beside her in the same classroom. This humorous take on Clement C. Moore’s classic tale will help children through their back-to-school jitters.

The night before first grade book is on the Unabashed Kids back to school list.
"A Letter From Your Teacher" book is on the Unabashed Kids back to school list.

A Letter From Your Teacher- on the first day of school. Written by Shannon Olsen – Available on Amazon

This heartwarming picture book helps teachers welcome their students on the first day of school. Through a letter written from the teacher’s point of view, students are given the message that their new teacher is someone they will get to form a special bond with.

Our Classroom is a Family by Shannon Olsen – Available on Amazon

“Family isn’t always your relatives. It’s the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile, and who love you no matter what.”

Teachers build a sense of community within their classrooms, creating a home away from home where they make their students feel safe. Reading “Our class is a family” on the first day of school, sets the ton for the inclusiveness that will be carried out throughout the school year.

"Our Class is a Family" book is on the Unabashed Kids back to school list.
"Unique Start from 6 Feet Apart" book is on the Unabashed Kids back to school list.

A Unique Start from 6 Feet Apart by Emily Oquendo – Available on Amazon

Students returning to school in fall 2021, will experience a school year different than any precious years. These students will wear mask, social distance, and be taught plenty of hygiene methods to prevent virus spreading in schools.

If You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Numeroff – Available on Amazon

“If you take a mouse to school, he’ll ask you for your lunch box. When you give him your lunch box, he’ll want a sandwich to go in it. Then he’ll need a notebook and some pencils. He’ll probably want to share your backpack, too.”

"If you take a mouse to school" book is on the Unabashed Kids back to school list.
"The Day You Begin" book is on the Unabashed Kids back to school list.

The Day You Begin by Jaqueline Woodson – Available on Amazon

This book is perfect for upper primary school students, grades 3 to 5. There will always be a new kid in school, no matter what grade level. This story will help students understand that we are all different, but it is ok to embrace our differences.

“There will be a times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.”

“There will be many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.”

Ellie the Elephant Makes New Friends at School by Agnes Green – Available on Amazon

“I woke up this morning, as happy as could be, excited for the day ahead, dressing hurriedly, I raced downstairs and kissed my mom, on my first day of school.”

"Ellie the Elephant Makes New Friends at school" book is on the Unabashed Kids back to school list.
"I got the School Spirit" book is on the Unabashed Kids back to school list.

I Got the School Spirit by Connie Schofield-Morrison – Available on Amazon

A celebration of the first day of school. This beautifully illustrated book will get students ready to learn all school year.

Are there any “back to school” books left off this list? Use the comment section to share some of your favorite back to school books for elementary kids.

The best homeschool workbook for kindergarten and first grade.
Posted in Parenting

Back to School (COVID Safe)

Kids Are Going Back to School. How Do We Keep Them Safe?

As the Delta variant rages across the world and vaccination rates remain low in many parts, worried parents have two pressing questions: Should I send my child back to school? Will they be safe in school during a pandemic?

Parents have become frustrated at the lack of advice for families, particularly those with children under 12 years old, who are not yet eligible for a COVID vaccine. On social media and at school-board meetings, parents say they face an impossible choice: send kids to school and risk a COVID-19 infection, or keep kids home and jeopardize their mental health and educational development.

Children wearing face mask in school. Picture found on "back to school (covid safe)" blog
Photo by Muneer ahmed ok on Unsplash

While public health officials generally offer reassurance about the safety of children headed back to school, the advice varies depending on the conditions in your state. Please pay attention to your state or countries COVID guidelines.

Many parents are choosing to homeschool their children, even if the school district will no longer offer virtual classes. These parents must make a plan to not break any adolescent education laws and to provide their children with the best academic experience at home.

What can parents do to lower the risk of their child contracting COVID-19?

Getting a COVID vaccine may lower the risk of a child being infected at home and protect family members if a child brings the virus home from school. In addition, everyone in the family should consider getting flu shots this fall.

Reduce the risk for your whole family by avoiding crowds. Paying attention to the community transmission rates, vaccination rates, teaching children to wash their hands, and wearing masks in risky settings are great preventative measures.


What should parents do if their child’s school does not require masks?

Children in school. Picture found on "back to school (covid safe)" blog
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Even in schools with mask mandates, compliance by children is never 100 percent. And masks are only one of many possible precautions schools can take. Parents in school districts without mask mandates should learn what other steps are being taken, including regular testing, social distancing, and air ventilation measures. Parents can ask their own children to wear masks in schools, but keep in mind masking is far less effective if most kids aren’t doing it.

If you chose to send your kids with a face mask, it is important to send them with one that fits their face. Purchase Children’s Mask on Amazon.

"The school I teach at opened in-person September 2020 at about half capacity. A plan was made to clean the school several times during the day, with help of janitorial and teaching staff. The desk in the classroom and cafeteria were separated 3 to 6 feet apart. Distancing depended on the size of the room and the amount of students who would need to fit in the class.  UV-c lights were used in each classroom afterschool. The HVAC units were updated. The school district believed we were ready. When school started, children were in pods for most of the day but they ate lunch in the cafeteria, had recess, and specials with children from other grades and pods. School ran on a half-day schedule but a large percentage of the student body stayed full day for a free aftercare program that was offered for working parents. We had several outbreaks throughout the 2020-21 school year. Many teachers began to believe the the school administration did not take the health of staff and students seriously. Parents in the community had to go back to work, so school was open. Several teachers were extremely sick from COVID in February 2021. From October to May the several schools in the district had to close for 2 week quarantines due to staff exposure. The school administration made a great effort to get staff vaccinated. A large percentage of staff members and their families were able to be fully vaccinated by May 2021. My fellow teachers and I, hope that the plan for the next school year will be followed much more effectively. We truly love the children and want them in school and learning, but not at the risk of their health or our own."

- Kindergarten Teacher, USA 

In some pre-kindergarten special education or autism classroom mask wearing is not required due to the children’s ability to understand, behavior, or other needs of the child. If you have a child in a classroom wear mask are not required or are required but not worn by students, it is up-to you to contact school officials to address the problem. If you are uncomfortable with children in a classroom not wearing mask: ask for your child to change classrooms due to safety or ask for a virtual class.

If you have a young child who is intolerant to wearing a mask, please make the school administration and teacher aware of this. Practice mask wearing at home for short periods of time. Start with having your child touch the mask. Point out that others are wearing mask. Have the child wear the mask for 15 seconds at a time, then 30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minute, 5 minutes, 5 minutes in different locations, 10 minutes in different locations, and 30 minutes in different locations. This method takes some time but it will help young children who are mask intolerant build up the stamina to wear a mask in school.


Can your kids visit grandma and grandpa during the school year?

We must take into consideration the health risk to elderly community members. Are they vaccinated? Are the children going to school in an area with high COVID-19 transmission rates? Are the grandparents in good health? The answer to whether a child visits their grandparents during the school year depends on your answers to this question. 

When everyone is vaccinated, families may feel more comfortable spending time together. If younger children are unvaccinated in a fully-vaccinated family group, some families might want to take additional precautions, like spending time together outdoors, wearing masks indoors, or getting tested before family gatherings to confirm that no one in the family is infectious.

Home testing is also an option, although it can get costly at about $15 per test. Regular testing of school-aged children, at bi-weekly intervals or before a family visit, can give parents peace of mind when families spend time with people outside their households.


Is in-person instruction safe for kids with medical needs?

Parents of children at very high risk for complications from Covid-19, including children with sickle cell anemia or those recovering from cancer, may need to do additional research before sending children back to school in fall 2021. The decision should be made based on advice from the child’s pediatrician and specialists, factoring in local conditions and the precautions being taken at the school.