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Academic Preparation for Back to School

Education Expert Advice from Barbara Callaghan

Q: My son is going into the 5th grade and I would like some help in getting him some work sheets to get him ready for school.

A: Your desire to help your son maintain his skills and be ready for school in September is music to a teacher's ear.

Your son, on the other hand, may not consider worksheets his idea of summer vacation. If he does like worksheets, you can easily purchase them at the local supermarket and drug stores and certainly at teacher supply stores (you don't need to be a teacher to shop there). They are clearly marked by grade level.

A more appealing tactic may be to offer challenges. Here are some ideas: challenge your son to take on the l00 words most often misspelled; read books that have won the Newbery Medal; beat the clock doing basic computation problems (make up l00 problems of basic addition, subtraction, multiplication or division).

The Newbery Medal for excellence in children's literature is over forty years old. You may find this complete list at any public library and most school libraries or media centers. The most current winners are:

  • l997, View From Saturday, by E. L. Konigsburg
  • l996, The Midwife's Apprentice, by Karen Cushman
  • l995, Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech
  • l994, The Giver, by Lois Lowry
  • l993, Missing May, by Cynthia Rylant
  • l992, Shiloh, by Phyllis Naylor
  • l99l, Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli
  • l990, Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry
  • l989, Joyful Noise, by Paul Fleischman
  • l988, Lincoln: a Photobiography, by Russell Freedman
  • l987, The Whipping Boy, by Paul Fleischman

The local library often has a summer program that is appealing to children.

Spelling demons

These are some of the words that elementary school children most often misspell. A complete list of the 100 spelling demons has been compiled by Leslie W. Johnson in a book called San Mateo Resource Program for Teaching of Spelling.

  • their
  • too
  • there
  • people
  • because
  • caught
  • another
  • all right
  • beautiful
  • stopped
  • together
  • friends
  • frightened
  • clothes
  • believe
  • woman
  • received

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After teaching in California for nearly ten years, Barbara Callaghan moved to New Hampshire in 1985 and became a principal. After 10 years as a principal, she returned to teaching, her first love and true vocation.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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