Learning at Home: Practice and pretend

By Sherry Heavin

The last few weeks have given me an opportunity to discuss education with you and I hope it has been a help. As we received the news last week that school would be cancelled for the remainder of the year, we were all so sad. What about my students? What about goodbyes? What about graduation? What about prom? What about that last big game? What about… This virus has given us more than sickness, for sure, it has given us time to really understand what matters most in life. However, I do believe that good can be found in any situation. Sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper to find it.
This week I wanted to share two of my very favorite education topics:  Practice and Pretend. Way back, long, long ago when I attended Phelps County R-III and had Ms. Maybelle Widener and several other teachers, there were things you just had to know --- not a little bit, but really, really know. There’s only one way to really KNOW something and that is memorization. That topic isn’t popular in education anymore since children have access online to any information you’d want them to memorize and about 90 percent you hope they don’t! However, I am of the opinion if we are ever going to be really, really proficient at something we must understand it forward and back and that takes practice. Practice creates memorization. 
                                                                                                                       Photos submitted
For inspiration, here are Sherry Heavin’s daughter-in-law, Hannah and two of her grandchildren learning with practice and pretend.
So this week I challenge you to work with all students no matter the age and have them memorize something. For the preschool children, have them memorize the alphabet and an object that begins with that letter, for the elementary students have them learn the FRYE readability list (url below). This list goes through 10th grade. If students know these words on sight it will improve their reading level immensely. These words are the words found most frequently in text. You just have to memorize them!  Then, after you’ve written those words, spelled those words on the sidewalk, read them out loud to your momma, daddy, sister, brother, and the cat - then write them on a paper talking out loud to yourself. When you know these words without error, you’ll be an excellent reader. 
FRY Word List Grades 1-10 (1000 words by Grade Level that appear most often in texts) www.sightwords.com.
After you’ve practiced your words, move to mathematics. Start with your 1’s and go to 12’s with multiplication facts for those in (second and up). Write them. Shout them. Record them and listen to them on headphones. Know them, be able to pull them to memory faster than a Ferrari on rocket fuel!  No matter your grade level, whether it is addition facts, subtraction facts, multiplication facts, the more you know and the faster you can solve the better you will perform. No new math ideas here...just learn the facts!
Google Play has free Math Practice Flash cards in an APP - https://play.google.com/store/apps.
Last, sometimes you just need to pretend with your children. Children love to pretend - so do adults.   It is how little children learn best, and why big kids dream. So, if they want to watch a movie. Say OK, but we have to set up for the movies. Create a ticket booth and a concession stand. Nothing fancy necessary, but make them pay for their tickets with real money or play if you have it (wow wouldn’t it be great if they could count coins from their piggy bank to pay (another practice idea!). Then, have them pay the correct amount for popcorn, candy, water, etc., whatever you have on hand. This will be a fun activity, a happy memory for them, and you’ll be getting school work in and they will love it (also, a movie means a little peace for you). 



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