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Thursday, October 17, 2013

expert mama - Larissa Ragazzo - ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER

Another Expert Mama from our recent series, Larissa Ragazzo is an elementary school teacher. She has great advice on how you can prepare your little one for Kindergarten, and the things your child should know at the end of elementary school years. Great advice! Thank you, Larissa, for such important info. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this! 

1. How many kids do you have and what are their names?
2 boys, Robby (5) and Kevin (2)
2. Why did you decide to be a teacher?
I always enjoyed working with kids. I babysat and taught swimming lessons when I was in HS.

3. What are the best parts of your job?

The best part of my job is when a student sees proof that they are getting better at reading - the pride that comes with that is awesome!  

Also, the same vacations as my kiddos is a nice perk
4. What are the most challenging parts of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is the parents and the negative attitude some students have towards school. Often times, parents are not supportive of the extra help I provide to their child. It is difficult to get a student motivated when there is little support at home; add to that a "I hate school, I don't have to do this" attitude and it can be difficult to get work done.

All photos from Larisssa Ragazzo

5. Focusing on elementary school... What is your advice to parents who have kids going into school?

My advice for parents of kids starting school is to talk to your child about his/her day, be excited about all they are learning and doing, and to believe your child's teacher.
6. What 3 things do you think kids need to know how to do when they are done with elementary school?
3 things students need to be able to do at the end of elementary school are 1) ask questions, 2) choose something to read, and 3) follow directions.

7. What are the toughest parts about working with little kids?
The toughest part of working with little kids is the energy it takes to keep up with them It is hard enough to keep up with 1 5-year old, imagine having a classroom of 20!! Tying shoes, wiping noses, etc. for 20 takes a lot of time.
8. What are the coolest parts about working with this age group?
The best thing about working with younger students is their excitement for school. Overall, kindergarten and 1st grade students love being at school. They are excited to learn what the "big kids" know and have so much energy. It is awesome.
9. What is your advice for parents who are trying to keep their kids doing well and paying attention, following rules, etc. in school?
If you want your child to do well/listen/follow rules etc. in school then it is important to follow through on what the teacher says/does. Talk to your child about why he/she wasn't listening and explain why it is important. If your child's teacher tells you about an inappropriate behavior, let your child know that you are not ok with that either. If you contradict a teacher's expectations than you send the message to your child that he/she doesn't need to follow the rules or listen to the teacher.
10. What is your advice for parents and keeping open communication with their kids' teachers? 

Don't ever feel that a question or concern is too small to discuss with a teacher. Also, if a teacher tells you something that you disagree with, don't attack that teacher - have an honest conversation where you express how you feel and explain why you feel that way. Remember that a teacher is a professional, treat them that way.
11. What is your advice specifically for parents of young kindergarteners starting school?

Kindergarten is exciting and scary all at the same time. Be supportive of your kindergartener, but remember that they have a busy day and may be exhausted when they get home 

(something I have been dealing with for the past 3 weeks . . .). Get involved in your child's school and show your child that school is important by asking him/her about the day.
12. What social things should parents try to teach their children so they do better in elementary school?

I think listening is the most important thing parents can teach their children before school. It is so important for a child to be able to listen and it is something that only a parent can teach well.

13. What is your advice for teaching kids to read? When should parents start helping their kids learn to read? What are some EARLY things parents can do (as young as 1 year old even?
The best thing you can do to teach kids to read is to READ A LOT! By showing your child that books are fun and exciting you can build a love for books that will give your child an intrinsic motivation to read. Read lots of books that are interactive (lift the flap etc.) and ask your young child about the book or illustrations.  

Don't worry about whether your child can read or not - they will let you know when they are ready. I began teaching my oldest sight words when he was 4 1/2 because he was ready and he was asking us about the words. We have taken it slowly and made it fun. If you push too much, you run the risk of turning your child "off" from reading. If your child has a love for books, they will learn to read. Make books an important part of your life and your child will, too.

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