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Help Your Child Succeed in School with this Gift Guide! Improve Math, Language Arts, and Communications with simple gifts that will have a huge impact in the classroom.

It is July! Why are you talking about gifts (and Christmas) in July? Well, Christmas in July!

I am actually reviewing my classroom notes from last year in preparation for next year and written in big (sloppy) bold letters is “HELP PARENTS WITH MATH AT HOME.”

We often talk about a literature rich classroom or a numbers rich classroom but have you ever thought of a literature rich home or a numbers rich home? We need to support our parents in this area. We all know how important creating the right environment is and how success improves in this environnment.

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Sometimes it is the little things that make all the difference. As technology advances, some things are disappearing from our homes without thought of the consequences. These things need to make a come back. They are needed to help students succeed.

Parents want the best for their children and sometimes just don’t realize how big of an impact something so small will have. Give parents the tools they need. Let them know they have the power to change their child’s life with the little things. Consider giving these items as gifts instead of the latest trends.

Gifts to Support Learning at Home

.01

Analog Clock

Analog clocks are disappearing. Everything is becoming digital and the result is more and more people are unable to tell time using this device. A quick fix is to pick up a clock and place it in the main areas of your home. I recommend 1 in the family room and 1 in the kitchen.

The kitchen has digital clocks everywhere which allows the child to check for accuracy on their own. Make sure that one clock is in a room where no digital clocks are. This will force your child to use it. Ask them to tell you the time at least once a day.

A great addition… buy a child’s watch! I have seen children as young as 1st grade with these. Again, you can’t put a price on how much your child will improve in this area.

Bonus… Mix it up! Have a clock with traditional numbers, one with Roman Numerals (another skill to learn!), and one without numbers.

.02

Cookbooks

Cookbooks are disappearing and being replaced with digital recipes. We have to bring these back! They teach students how to read and follow technical materials and how to use a table of contents and index. These are essential skills for math, science, and classroom behavior.

Hidden inside you will find lessons on fractions, measurements, and the importance of being precise. Double or half the recipe for even more math fun. Purchase books with standard measurements and metric measurements. It is important for students to be able to covert between the two.

 

.03

Measurement Cups & Spoons

Make conversions come alive with a good set of measuring cups and spoons. This is the set I have in my kitchen and love. It also visits my classroom on a regular basis. Why?

It has both standard and metric units. Your child will be able to see the conversions. The more they are exposed the better their understanding will be! Use it with your cookbooks. Challenge your older students to write the recipe in metrics.

.04

Coloring Books

Did you know coloring books are disappearing? They are being replaced with coloring on a tablet. Children learn how to hold a pencil and build fine motor skills with these. This translates to more stamina in the classroom. In layman’s terms… that means that they can write more or do more problems without their hand hurting. Just like any muscle, it has to be used to grow stronger. If they are pointing, they will never have a strong grip to write well. This is why so many children are starting to have horrible handwriting (that and the lack of practice in schools but I digress).

Alternative… watercolors, markers, chalk… whatever medium they like. Give them paper and let their minds work!  Does your child hate coloring? Try puzzle books, cutting patterns, and orgami. All skills that will help with building these muscles.

.05

Kitchen Scale

One of the biggest issues my students have had is with volume. The measurement of liquids. A good kitchen scale will allow them to measure these easily. It will also have standard and metric measurements. Another great tool for conversions.

How to use: I have my children read what a serving size is (or research it). They get out snack sized ziploc bags and measure the contents inside. These go into the snack buckets (fridge or pantry) and are ready for the week ahead. One less thing I have to do and a great way to teach them math.

.06

Books

Books in the home improve success in school. It has been proven. Yet a 2006 Study  shows that low income students average 1 book in the home for every 300 children.  A 2010 study shows that books in the home are as important if not more important than the parent’s education level in determining success.

Any book will do but it needs to be a physical book not a digital one. The child needs to know how to hold it, turn the pages gently, and follow the lines of words on their own. Reading allowed to your child is even better. The more books your child has the better.

If you cannot afford books, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will send your child (under the age of 5) a new book each month! There is no reason for a child not to have their own books in their home.

.07

Blocks

Blocks of any kind: wooden blocks, magnetic blocks, Legos, or Lincoln Logs. It doesn’t matter. This allows your child to practice their engineering skills. I prefer open ended sets that allow the child to create their own world but even the latest trendy Legos will provide much needed skills. This builds those small motor skills, teaches them to follow procedures, searching skills, matching skills, and math skills (how many pink ones do I need?).

There are even sets for older kids… one’s that allow them to build robots, snap circuits for electrical currents, and ones that involve coding. The options are always changing.

 

.08

Board Games

Board Games and Puzzles are great toys to keep in the house. These teach basic skills such as cooperation, taking turnings, sportsmanship, losing gracefully, basic math skills, and organizational skills. The more games your child plays the better!

Puzzles teach your child to look for clues, identify shapes and nets, counting (do you have all the pieces), and helps with those fine motor skills.

Have a discussion while playing. Laughing and enjoy one another. This will help improve your child’s vocabulary and communication skills.

.09

Tool Kits

Everyone laughs when I say a tool kit. Measuring tapes allow them to discover how big things are. Can they measure a couch with a ruler? Why not? How many square feet is the living room? Can I buy that new couch? How much paint do I need for the walls? Let them figure it out for you.

In addition, the screw drivers, hammer, and pliers will allow them to take things apart and try to put them back together again. Buy them a $1 toaster at the garage sell. Let them tear it apart (outside) to see the insides (like we do with a dissection).

I have a many a picture of my son trying to fix his plastic foot powered car propped up on a block tower while he is trying to figure out where to put his toy screwdriver to open the imaginary engine.

When he was older I bought him a tool kit, some scrap wood, and some nails. He loved using it in his sandbox to build ramps for his Tonka Trucks. Today he is studying to be an engineer.

Do these gifts really make a difference?

Numerous research studies (too many to list) have proven that learning starts at home. The parent is our best “weapon” to improve success rates among our students. Equipping them with the simple things, like cheap gift ideas will make a small difference in our classrooms.

I have purchased these gifts and kept these things for my own children in our home. They are always 2-3 years ahead of where they should be in vocabulary and reading.  They all excel in math. Two children are fluent in multiple languages. Two have college degrees.  I have seen much success with them.

I have now also seen the flip-side of what happens when I take these tools away. When we moved states, I got rid of the analog clocks. My high school students are now beginning to struggle with this skill. Top of my Christmas Wish list is a new analog clock for the living room.

Click on the links above to purchase your gifts. Amazon is my go to shopping site. Once click and with prime.. .it is here in 2 days for free!

What Would You Add?

Leave us a comment below! We would love to hear what your must have items are to help support learning in the home is. I would love to come up with a list of another 9 ideas from all of you!