January 24th Update

Dear Great Horned Owls Families -

We are three fourths of the way through January and the children are already working on their first research project of the New Year. It seems we’ve been successful in weaning off most of the children from their “save” research projects and are instead exploring other topics (or should I say, other animals). We ask the students to read as much as they can about their topic and then write in their own words what they learnt. The focus is to discourage the children from developing the common tendency to copy verbatim from a book or article. Parents, when you read to them, ask them to summarize what you just read to them (you may have to start at the end of each chapter page and then gradually increase it until they can summarize at the end of a chapter). This will greatly help them to develop this habit verbally and then it will naturally support the equivalent written summary.

Most students are fluent readers, meaning they can read passages, decode words with minimal mistakes, and read at their grade-level pace. As stated above, our main focus is on their reading comprehension. Are they able to retell you what they read? Can they tell you the setting and any details of how the story is unfolding? Can they describe a particular character? Can they make inferences of what will happen next? Can they give you a complete summary? I usually explain to the student being able to read fluently is just the minimum requirement. The part we are guiding them to fully develop is to be a conscientious deliberate reader. This means they must be paying close attention to what is happening and to the details.

Again, as a parent, you can easily ascertain where your child is with this skill just by asking comprehension questions when you read to them. Be patient. Some children are really good at focusing and have no problem retelling the passage. Others, as you read, may be focusing on how certain words are pronounced or if they are reading, they may be concentrating on reading without making mistakes. In both of these cases, comprehension is not their current focus. In some cases, a reader may be processing the text much more slowly and are still focusing on understanding the prior paragraph just read to them. We have to gently lead them to focus on the meaning of what they are reading. As I suggested before, you may want to stop at the end of every page and check their comprehension. For some, you may have to ask at the end of each paragraph and gradually ask after two paragraphs, etc.

One last distinction you might need to know about reading comprehension, non-fiction text requires much more close reading compared to literature. It may have domain specific vocabulary that may be completely new to the young reader. Once they understand the new vocabulary they may have to re-read several times before the passage starts to make sense. The focus, over the last few years in the United States, is to have children read more informational text. It was found children were mainly used to reading literature and not this type of text. At home, I would alternate between reading one literature book and then one non-fiction book on a topic of particular interest for the child.

Children do love to learn new words and soon realize the more vocabulary they know, the easier it is to understand what they are reading. Ask them to show you their “Spelling Dictionary” and ask them the meaning of some of the words. You may want to play the alphabet game where you take turns naming as many animal that starts with the letter “a” until you run out of them and then you go on to the next letter. You can change category topic from animals to sports, etc. You might want to play junior version of Scrabble or play Boggle. I subscribe to the New York Times crossword and puzzle subscription on my phone. ( https://www.nytimes.com/puzzles/spelling-bee ) The particular one that my children enjoy playing with my wife and me is the “spelling bee” where you are given seven letters and you try to make as many words as possible. For the younger children Boggle might be the better option.

Important Upcoming events:

Wednesday, January 27th - Board meeting from 6-7pm

Friday, January 29th - Early Release Day/Extended Care Provided

Tuesday, February 2nd - Transition meeting for Lower Elementary moving up to Upper      Elementary

Friendly Reminder:

Don’t forget to make your AZ School Tax Credit donation for Keystone Montessori- receive a dollar per dollar credit on your AZ tax return ($200 single or $400 for joint return on AZ form 321, please ask your tax advisor for details or https://azdor.gov/tax-credits/contributions-qcos-and-qfcos )

With so many people affected by the pandemic, please consider an additional tax credit to the Community Food Bank (https://azfoodbanks.org/food-banks-in-az/ ) or a tax credit to the Working Poor ( https://phoenixrescuemission.org/taxcredit/ ).

One final note:

If you ever have difficulty signing on to Zoom, please check for updates on the top right hand corner, where your initials show-up. If there is a red dot next to your initials, then you need to update your version.

Ms. Bahareh and Mr. Jess