How to Challenge Your 1st Grader

Posted by Rebecca Moore - 20 June, 2017

1st grade 2.jpgFirst graders are curious but they don't have to be the only ones asking questions.

Open-ended questions are a fun way to get some insight into how your child thinks about things and to expand his or her knowledge.

Teachers at our school use "Essential Questions" to plan curriculum. Do try this at home!

In the book Essential Questions by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins, essential questions are defined as the kinds of questions that can spark a student's learning: "[Essential questions] are not answerable with finality in a single lesson or a brief sentence - and that's the point. Their aim is to stimulate thought, to provoke inquiry, and to spark more questions, including thoughtful student questions, not just pat answers. They are provocative and generative."

Here are some essential questions to ask your 1st Grader:

  • Does art have to show reality?
  • Do you think everyone in the world celebrates just like we do?
  • How does the position of a digit in a number affect its value?
  • How do the organ systems work together to keep us healthy?

Once you move from question to exploration, a challenging 1st Grade program will build on your child's natural curiosity. Unfortunately, many schools do a really good job of squelching that most natural tendency to question. Who doesn't remember the assignment, "Read the chapter and answer the questions at the end"? Why can't the kids do the questioning before and after material is explored?

The spirit of "what's possible" outweighs the impossible.

Your child's school should empower students to ask questions. Introducing design thinking  as a way to create models for thinking and problem-solving can and should begin at this young age, while the spirit of "what's possible" outweighs the impossible.

1.6.jpgYour child should explore science and other subjects through research and hands-on curricula based on the natural curiosity of the 1st grade child.

Personalized reading programs with material about different subjects is important to drive that spirit of learning for learning's sake.

All children need physical education and recess. Every day, kids need structured physical activity and free play to create their own world of decisions and rules. These exercises build upon the connection of thinking and movement to gain greater independence of motion and greater confidence of execution.

And remember, all of us learn differently and have different strengths, and this profile is dynamic. One student may be off the charts in math but struggle mightily with the writing process. Another child may have no problem reading but have great difficulty talking with adults and other children. Finding each student's challenge points is so important to their success. The kind of school you want will identify challenges for every student so that they can each grow.

As you ask your children open-ended questions, listen for what their answers tell you about where they are in their thinking. Push a little on their answers to help them uncover what makes them believe something, how they know what they think, and—most importantly—what more do they want to know? Curiosity fuels learning at all ages!

Topics: 1st grade, admissions, design thinking, science

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