This month teachers from 18 of the 22 schools from CABOCES gathered together to explore and discuss best practices for our youngest students. As research states, a child’s early years in school are critical to building their literacy and math skills so that they are prepared for greater success as they grow. As many studies have suggested, gaps in students reading and math skills after the third grade become exacerbated and can even impact students’ chance of graduating from high school.
During our session Michele Pettenati, an OT specialist for BOCES, shared a plethora of ideas and resources for helping students with writing and the tripod grip. The foundation of all good handwriting begins with the following skills:
Fine motor skills involve the small muscles of the body that enable such functions as writing, grasping small objects, and fastening clothing. When we refer to fine motor skills in the context of handwriting we are typically talking about the small muscles in the hands and fingers used for writing.
Pre-kindergartners benefit from daily experiences that support the development of fine motor skills in their hands and fingers. Children should have strength and dexterity in their hands and fingers before being expected to master the daunting task of handwriting. Teachers can help students strengthen those muscles in the classroom by providing authentic, fun, and developmentally appropriate activities on a daily basis. These activities will also support the development of appropriate pencil grasps when the child is ready.
During the math portion of our workshop we looked at the PK Math Standards, reviewed the Emphasis in Common Core Standards for Mathematical Content and watched a math “Studio Talk” video from Engage NY. Teachers were encouraged to use the following content emphases to make curricular decisions regarding math instruction:
Teachers were also reminded where to shift their focus and priorities by examining the learning progressions through grade levels and how to utilize the Standards of Mathematical Practice in a PK classroom.
Overall, the turnout for the day provided teachers with an opportunity to collaborate and share ideas to take back and utilize during their daily classroom instruction. Teachers spent the afternoon sharing Common Core aligned math and ELA center ideas while developing new ways to utilize classroom sign in sheets.
By Tessa Levitt and Jillian Putnam, CA BOCES