Summer homework burns mom

Dear teacher,

All of my children have brought home folders of summer homework that need to be completed before the first day of school in the fall.

The summer homework is such a big deal that my child entering kindergarten even has a lot of material to cover. Are other schools doing the same thing?

I certainly don’t look forward to having to browbeat my children to do this work all summer long. Last year, I was lax about having the kids do their homework. As a result, the last two weeks before school started was just doing homework, homework, homework!

Dear parent,

Your children’s school is not out of step, as more and more schools are assigning summer work. The reasoning behind this is that it keeps students’ school skills sharp — especially for those who have the traditional, long summer break of up to 70 days. Students who do not do some work in the summer will on average suffer a learning loss equivalent to about one month.

Typically, students score lower at the end of summer than at the end of the school year on the same standardized tests. Students who are reluctant to do any summer work should be reminded that failure to do this work will put them behind.

Admittedly, summer is a time to relax and largely forget about school. Parents can keep it that way if they organize how the summer homework will be handled. Give them a say in when they will do them. You could suggest that they take a short break from these assignments after school is over and before it begins again. Another suggestion is that they only work on the assignments three or four days a week until all the homework is completed.

Debunking common myths about stuttering

Dear parents,

Much of what we think that we know about stuttering is actually a myth. Many very successful people, including Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, and a recent top-10 performer on “American Idol,” have had severe stuttering problems. Here with help from The Stuttering Foundation is a list of facts to counter the myths about stuttering. You can learn more about stuttering by visiting the organization’s website at www.stutteringhelp.org or by calling (800) 992–9392.

Myth: People who stutter are not smart.

Reality: There is no link whatsoever between stuttering and intelligence.

Myth: Nervousness causes stuttering.

Reality: Nervousness does not cause stuttering. Or should we assume that people who stutter are prone to be nervous, fearful, anxious, or shy? They have the same full range of personality traits as those who do not stutter.

Myth: Stuttering can be “caught” through imitation or by hearing another person stutter.

Reality: You can’t “catch” stuttering. No one knows the exact causes of stuttering, but recent research indicates that family history, neuromuscular development, and the child’s environment, including family dynamics, all play a role in the onset of stuttering.

Myth: It helps to tell a person to “take a deep breath before talking” or “think about what you want to say first.”

Reality: This advice only makes a person more self-conscious, making the stuttering worse. More helpful responses include listening patiently and modeling slow and clear speech yourself.

Teaching children how to write their names

Dear teacher,

My daughter, who is entering first grade, still can’t write her name. How can I teach her how to do this before next year?

Dear parent,

You can work with your daughter using the steps below to help her learn to write her name. She needs to master each step before going to the next one.

• Get a copy of the alphabet letters the school is using. They should show the direction that each letter is formed.

• Teach her how to print the letters in her name, starting with her first name. The letters can be taught in any order. She also needs to know the names of the letters.

• Print her name. Have her trace these letters many times. She may find it easier to write using a marking pen.

• Write her name using only dots. Then she should connect the dots.

• Print her name, and have her copy it under the letters you have written. She should say each letter as she writes it.

• Have your child write her name without looking at the model.

• Teach your child her last name in the same way.

Parents should send questions and comments to dearteacher@dearteacher.com or ask them on the columnists’ website at www.dearteacher.com.

© Compass Syndicate Corporation, 2014.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate