Archive for Thursday, February 6, 2003

Some reading, ‘rithmetic, and recreation

After school program boosts academic skills through games

February 6, 2003

Walking through the Nottingham Elementary library after school Monday afternoon, second- grade teacher Jennifer Adams teases a group of about 20 students, telling them they're having too much fun for an after-school program.

Even though they're practicing addition problems on flashcards, the second- and third-graders are giggly and excited. But maybe that's because after they answer their math problems they earn a chance at shooting a small basketball into a makeshift goal.

Whereas the district's other schools offer after school programs that are homework and academic based for older children, the Nottingham program, now in its second year, uses games to teach the younger students the skills in which they need a boost.

Consolidated plan director Janell Barnow said she and two other teachers led three groups of learning games, letting the children take turns at each during the three-a-week sessions. She said the after school program traded off between boosting reading skills, such as phonics. Monday's games taught math skills with a "nines trick," which allows students to easily add in their head sums including nine.

"The games reinforce math skills and start to help them with their math facts," Barnow said.

Students invited to join the after school group are often recommended by a teacher, those in the CAP program, or "any other student we may feel needs an extra boost," Barnow said.

The program lasts 30 minutes after school lets out. For the age group, Barnow said, that was long enough.

"The whole goal is to keep them learning a little longer," she said. "We're just here to reinforce and get them on the right track."

The Notthingham program takes place during the spring semester only, scheduling Barnow said benefited the young students.

"For the level of children we have here it takes a while for the children to get into school and building their skills," she said. "They need time with their classroom teacher before we start something like this."

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