Preparing for 2nd Grade

Preparing for 2nd grade (when the 1st grade sucked.)


So, Miss L just recently graduated 1st grade. First grade was… an experience. She didn’t mind it, but I hated it for her. Mainly because I thought her teacher was near completely incompetent. The type of lady that’s just so near retirement she does the bare minimum to not lose her job.

In Kindergarten, L had a packet of homework every week. The teacher was good about sending home notes detailing progress or lack thereof. Also, she sent home a monthly syllabus which was fantastic because we were able to easily supplement Miss L’s learning at home. We didn’t have to communicate with her much, but when we did we really felt like we were communicating. Apparently Mrs. N, the 2nd grade teacher, is the exact same way, and we have a great year to look forward to.

Not so with Mrs. T. From the very first meeting with this lady, she made me twitch. We had to ask her to send home a syllabus. She’d never considered it. It took her a couple months after we asked to even get it started. Our communication with her regarding Miss L and her (lack of) abilities in math was equally frustrating. She insists that Miss L is doing just fine in her math, and at the same time is sending home reams of homework paper with multiple questions marked wrong. Doesn’t that kind of signify that maybe there’s a problem? Not to mention we’ve seen her struggle at home and she’s scored lower than she should on the tests. Homework? Entirely sporadic, and often Miss L would come home with random tSummer Bridge Activitieshings to do with no instruction sheet.

In talking with my partner, we both agreed that we were very concerned about the education Miss L was receiving, and needed to find a way to bolster it. So we picked up workbooks and started working with her at home. We always went over her homework with her, and if we noticed she was having particular trouble with something, we made her do extras. So on, and so forth. Still, we don’t feel like it’s enough, and so it’s definitely going to continue this summer. (You may be wondering why I haven’t said anything to the principal. It’s because it was made very clear to me by other parents who’ve tried saying something that the principal won’t actually do anything because she hates to make waves.)

So we picked up a 1st to 2nd grade Summer Bridge Activities book(Amazon link). These books are meant to done during the summer between the grades to continue your child’s education and build on concepts they’ll be using for the next grade.  It’s well laid out, with plenty of activities, and has plenty of pages your child can easily complete on their own. Also, it even comes with (if I’m remembering correctly) a page of stickers. Miss L insanely excited about getting stickers for doing homework during the summer.

Still, it doesn’t seem like enough because it’s a general book, and in general Miss L is okay, but what she really needs help in is Math. Oh dear, does she ever need help in Math. That child inherited her Mama’s non-existent skill for numbers. So, we also picked up an Addition and Subtraction workbook (Amazon link) for 1st-2nd grade. Now, remember, we’re not new to doing workbooks over the summer. We did it last year to help L get ready for 1st Addition and Subraction Bookgrade, hoping to give her a heads start on the year. The Addition and Subtraction workbook is super simple, and doing just one page a day feels like it might help keep the maths reinforced in her mind a bit.

And then…we’ll also do  a simple whiteboard and dry erase marker deal frequently. (We did it last summer, too, so I know it’ll work.)  I’ll tell Miss L she’ll earn a star on her chart if she does x amount of problems, and that gets her raring to go. We keep it under 10 math problems usually, so she doesn’t get frustrated.

Now, anyone who has read my site for any amount of time knows that Miss L is very advanced in her reading. So you’d probably think we don’t push her much on that at home, right? Well, you’d be wrong. While I don’t push her as much on Reading/Writing as I do Maths, I still poke at her to read and tell me what it’s about. I have her practice handwriting skills by writing me a simple one page story. (She only gets a star if I can easily read the story.) Reading Wise: She started the year at level O, and ended the year at level Q, so she never got out of the 4th grade reading level, but who cares?

Anyways, I still feel like it’s not enough. I’m so mad at this teacher because I don’t feel like she did right by her students at all. I feel sorry for the ones that don’t have parents that are willing to put hours in to their child’s education at home.  Don’t get me wrong, I do not want Miss L to be swamped with work. She’s only a little kid. That would be ridiculous. But I do want her to have a solid 1st level to build the 2nd one on in her education, and I don’t feel like that happened, at all.

Anyone in a similar situation? Got any tips for this mama on navigating a summer when your child has had a crappy teacher for the year?

Daily PracticeEDITED TO ADD: One of my fellow bloggers, tahenryauthoress, recommended a Daily Practice series by Evan Moor. I’ve linked the 2nd grade Maths one here (Amazon), but clicking on it will allow you to easily browse for the ones appropriate for your child’s grade level (if you’re going through the same thing I am.)

Talk to me, please!


7 thoughts on “Preparing for 2nd Grade

  1. I loved stickers all the time. Especially in math. I cried the first time I got “1 X” on a math test.

    So my own experience as a student is no help to Miss L. But I’ve sometimes tutored students in math or physics (similar problems). My experience is that people understand math in different ways. Me, I can do abstractions or relate them to real world examples easily. But a lot of people have trouble going back and forth across that divide. Some students won’t grasp the principles until they work through a concrete example with some help.

    Another suggestion, and this one is off the wall, I admit. Miss L likes reading, she likes words? Pose her math problems that involve counting words and letters on pages in books. If you want to really challenge her, dig up Howard Zim’s “Codes and Secret Writing,” and have her learn what a cipher is! And then how to decode one, which involves COUNTING and pattern associations. OK, that might be beyond her, and offering too much of a challenge is as bad as not enough. I don’t know her well enough. But I do know I loved the book when I was a kid.

    Now, merge her interests and your together. Edgar Allen Poe wrote a short story, “The Gold-Bug,” which actually hinges on decoding a cipher!

    Pardon my enthusiasm if I’m way off base. But sometimes it takes hitting on just the right method to get a kid doing math with enthusiasm.

    1. She actually loves doing basic ciphers 🙂 I can entertain her for an hour, easily, just writing out basic letter-replacement ciphers for her to solve. So, stepping it up a bit might not be a bad idea at all.

      I really like your suggestions. Thanks!

  2. I left the school system because they were so completely clueless about helping my son. Dec Parent Teacher Conf in kinder: “He won’t be ready for first grade.” “What services are we implementing?” “None, he has to be two grade levels behind before he qualifies for services.” Gee thanks. buh bye
    If you have a child who loves workbooks I highly recommend the Daily Practice series by Evan Moor. They make them for every subject under the sun and it’s broken down into a few problems or questions a day. My kiddo also loves the Star Wars workbook series and I have found them a nice pairing with the daily series. It gives that extra problem practice.
    Simply working with her daily over the summer will do a vast amount towards helping her succeed next year by keeping her brain engaged and on a routine.

  3. Though I do not have any tips (sorry) and even though I’m not a parent, reading this made me happy! It seems to me that Miss L actually enjoys learning, and that is, in my opinion, the best thing ever when it comes to education.
    I remember I used to love learning when I was young, but the school system slowly but surely ruined that. When I graduated high school, I didn’t feel motivated enough to learn anything if I wasn’t getting anything in return. Anyway, enough about me.

    I hope someone is able to give you some good tips! And good luck next year!

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