Teach children how to cope with failure

Dear teacher,

How can you teach kids to deal with failure? When my child brings home a bad grade, she freaks out. What can I do to help this situation?

Dear parent,

Everyone likes to succeed. Who doesn’t want to get the promotion, ace the quiz, or be on the winning soccer team? It is natural to be disappointed when you fail at something. Nevertheless, children have to learn to cope with failure, from losing a board game to failing a test. This does not mean accepting that they won’t do well in an endeavor, but rather learning how to turn things around, so they are successful most of the time.

When children get bad grades, it is usually because they simply have not mastered the material. For the most part, children need to improve their study skills. This can mean paying closer attention to what is said in class, reading and re-reading textbook materials, and consistently doing homework.

When your child brings home a bad grade, make it a habit to go over the paper or test with her after she has calmed down. Help her explore where she made mistakes and how she could have done better. Be sure to talk long and hard about the material that she handled correctly and why this happened. This is important.

Also, it is essential that she correct all of the material that was incorrect so she can say: “Now I understand what the right answers are.” By doing this, she will be able to handle the material when she sees it again, as usually happens.

Schoolwork just gets harder and harder every year, so you want your child to begin to develop a “can do” attitude. You do not want her to become a child who gives up easily and expects to fail. Should there be an area in which your child is truly in over her head, get her help as soon as possible.

Young child doesn’t get phonics

Dear teacher,

My second-grader simply can’t sound out most new words; however, she is a very good reader. If you tell her what a word is, she remembers it or figures it out through context. Her teacher’s reaction is: “Some kids just don’t get phonics.” This remark bothered me. Is it important for my child to become more skilled with phonics?

Dear parent,

Children learn to read in different ways. Your daughter is a sight reader. This is the way children were taught to read years ago. It would be helpful if your daughter could use phonics to recognize the first sound in words, as it would make it easier for her to use context in recognizing them. She may never be great at phonics, but it is highly probable that she already has some knowledge of phonics simply through her ability to read so well.

You should be able to increase your child’s knowledge of phonics by teaching her some common word families. A word family is a combination of letters that makes a certain sound. If your child knows the sound of a word family, such as -ay, she would be able to sound out and read -ay family words including hay, day, may, say and pay.

The word family approach is incorporated in many basal reading series, phonics systems, reading-readiness lessons, and spelling series. When your child cannot sound out a word, recognizing a word family in it will help her to do so.

Here are the 38 most commonly used word families used in one syllable words: -ay,- ill, -ip, -at, -am, -ag, -ack, -ank, -ick, -ell, -ot, -ing, -ap, -unk, -ail, -ain, -eed, -y, -out, -ug, -op, -in, -an, -est, -ink, -ow, -ew, -ore, -ed ,-ab, -ob, -ock, -ake, -ine, -ight, -im, -uck and -um.

Your daughter can have fun learning these words. Introduce her to a word family, and then have her see how many words she can write. For reading practice, visit dearteacher.com and look at our Skinny Books that are word family readers.

The kindergarten-readiness assessment test

Dear teacher,

My child has to take a kindergarten-readiness assessment before she will be allowed to sign up for kindergarten. How should I help her to prepare for this test? I definitely want her to get a good score.

Dear parent,

To be honest, you should not feel obliged to prepare your child for this test, because there is usually very little at stake. For the most part, kindergarten-readiness tests are used to identify children who may need special instruction and to individualize kindergarten instruction. Only 25 percent or less of all school districts use these tests to recommend that a child’s entry into kindergarten be delayed. You can easily find out the purpose of this readiness test by contacting the school.

You can, of course, go online and look for kindergarten-readiness tests if you want to see what they are like. As far as preparation goes, you could make sure that your child can print his name and identify most of the letters of the alphabet. And do be sure to describe the testing situation to the child, so he will feel comfortable on test day.

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

© Compass Syndicate Corporation, 2013.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate.

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