It was wonderful to see all of the parents for our Hopes & Dreams conferences this past week.  You demonstrate that education is a priority in your family.  The power of that message is amazing.  Thank you!

One question that recurred was:  How can we help our child at home?

Of course, we all know the value of staying in touch with our child's teacher and the activities in our child's class.  For you, this means - perhaps - checking your child's homework folder, confirming that your child has mastered our word wall words, and encouraging your child to read and write as much as possible.  Is there something more?

We know that children at this age need a lot of sleep.  They also need a lot of time for unstructured, imaginative play.  Our children learn so much from play - how to take turns, how to work together with a friend, and how to visualize their dreams, for example.

I invite you to consider your family routines that help your first grader develop a sense of independence.  Does your son tie his own shoes?  Does your daughter carry her own backpack?  These may seem like simple tasks, or as my dad would say, "no-brainers."  But I truly believe that a child who feels confident in her ability to take care of herself will transfer that confidence to new and challenging tasks at school.  Learning anything new is made easier if one approaches the challenge with confidence.

How do you help your first grader practice independence?  What are your memories of learning confidence as a child?