Elementary Education

Abubakar: a reading superstar!

Abubakar: a reading superstar! 3986 3000 Payton Gresczyk

Maryan and her four children have been enrolled in Way to Grow programming for over seven years! They have worked closely with their warmhearted and dedicated Family Educator, Shany, since 2014. The youngest of the four children, five year old Abubkar, has been excelling in school and Shany has been very impressed with his desire to learn and engage in educational activities.

Abubakar was set to start kindergarten in the fall of 2021, but his pre-k assessments indicated he had surpassed kindergarten levels and was moved up to first grade! Throughout his visits with Shany, he has soared through his A-Z leveled readers and has is now reading at second grade level. On top of his exceptional reading skills, Abubakar stays very active, playing football and baseball. “He is a very lively little boy, always happy!” says Shany.

Abubakar is supported by his mom and three older sisters, but especially his sister Ameera. She takes time to read with her little brother and play with him. They are best buddies! Ameera is very nurturing and patient with Abubakar, listening to him practice his reading skills and helping him understand the new vocabulary.

We are so proud of Abubakar for his superstar accomplishments! We look forward to watching him continue excelling and succeeding in school and life.

10 Tried-and-True Family Game Night Ideas

10 Tried-and-True Family Game Night Ideas 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

Throughout the year, Way to Grow hosts Family Game Nights as part of our Great by Eight program. On average, over 30 families attend and each family receives a game to take home. These events have become a favorite for Way to Grow families. We feature a different game each time and wanted to share a few educational games we have found to be kid tested, and educator approved!

  1. Brain Quest 
    Brain Quest is the perfect bring-along game for those trips out of town. Play it in the car, or make a night of it by hosting your own trivia night. Skill areas: Critical thinking, information recall, and listening
  2. Farkle
    Farkle is a fun game of strategy and luck! Take a risk and keep rolling to build your score, or play it safe so you don’t lose your points. Skill areas: Math and critical thinking
  3. Memory
    This classic game is easy to play with children of nearly any age. Print your own like this fun shape version, or create your own using paper and markers. Try using letters of the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, or pictures tailored to what your child is learning. Skill areas: Critical thinking, information recall, and topic you choose!
  4. Pictionary
    Pictionary is an easy game to play with no supplies (other than a pen and paper) required! Draw the first thing that comes to mind or create your own word bank for children to draw from. Then, set the clock! Skill areas: Fine motor skills, creative thinking, and vocabulary
  5. Puzzles
    Puzzles have many benefits to early childhood development. They promote not only cognitive skill development, but social-emotional skills such as concentration and patience as well. Skill areas: Fine motor skills, memory, critical thinking and problem-solving
  6. Qwirkle
    Qwirkle was a huge hit at our most recent Family Game Night. Players take turns adding blocks adjacent to at least one previously played block. The blocks must match either the color or shape of the previous block. Skill areas: Color and shape recognition, pattern building
  7. Spot it!
    Spot it! is played with 31 cards that are each decorated with colorful images. The images may vary in size and position, but there is always one, and only one, match between any two cards. The aim of the games is always the same: be the first to spot it. Each game includes variations for all skill levels. Spot it! Jr. is for ages 4-7, though we think this game is just as fun for adults, too! Skill areas: Vocabulary building, cognitive processing speed, visual perception, and motor skills
  8. Story Cubes
    This compact, pocket-sized game packs a lot of fun! Practice your creative storytelling skills together, or alone. Story Cubes come in many themes from prehistorical times to enchanted fairy tales. For older children, practice writing out the stories to increase the target skill areas. Skill areas: Creative thinking and storytelling
  9. Uno
    Uno has been a family favorite for decades and for good reason. Easy for children to pick up and hard to put down, this game is fun for all ages. Skill areas: Strategic thinking, color and number recognition
  10. Zingo
    Another Way to Grow Family Game Night favorite is Zingo. Practice matching images and words to your Zingo card. Fill your card to win! With two levels, this game is perfect for ages 4-8. Skill areas: Vocabulary, matching, and sight word recognition

Second Grade Success

Second Grade Success 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

Way To Grow1230Since Kindergarten, Shamsa, Asma’s Way to Grow Family Educator, has been working with Asma on picture naming and vocabulary. A native Somali speaker, Asma was also enrolled in an Arabic program which initially, made English Language Learning even more challenging. Shamsa persisted, encouraging mom to attend ELL classes, to read daily with her children, and to set aside time to complete homework each night. Now a second grader at Pillsbury Elementary School, Asma scored 100% on both picture naming and spelling sight words this fall!

Asma’s family as a whole places a prominent value on education. With hopes of obtaining a degree in the field of Child Development, Asma’s mother is now taking college English classes at MCTC. These classes are helping mom learn to read and write at a collegiate level. In the meantime, Mom recognizes what an asset her increased English language skills are to teaching her children. With her own English Language Learning, mom has become more deeply engaged and involved with Asma’s education. She has become a powerful advocate for her children, and perhaps more importantly, a role model.

Making a Difference

Making a Difference 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

JaquelineMeet Jacqueline.  We hope to make Jacqueline’s holiday brighter by raising $2,500; enough to cover one full year of home visits and comprehensive programming with Way to Grow.  Jacqueline’s parents are from Togo, a small, tropical sub-Saharan country in West Africa. Edoh, Jacqueline’s mother has a goal for her children that many of us share. “Our educational goal for our daughter,” she says, “is that she will choose a career that makes her happy.” Jacqueline beams as she tells us, “I want to be a doctor so I can check my mom’s heart, teeth, ears, and mouth to be sure she is healthy.”

Jacqueline passed the school readiness assessment this past spring joining the 88% of Way to Grow children deemed ready for kindergarten! She participated in our Early Learning graduation ceremony this summer, lighting up her white cap and gown! Now in kindergarten, she is very excited to finally attend the same school as her big sister, Grace.  Grace has told Jacqueline so many fun and exciting stories about Bancroft Community School that she could hardly wait for it to begin this fall!

Jacqueline’s parents tell us they love Way to Grow for, “The way they teach. They come into my home and educate the whole family. They are flexible and are available to come when I am not at work, even if that is a Saturday morning.”  Sponsor Jacqueline as part of our My Scholar initiative this holiday season, and give one child the one gift that can never be taken back.

We cannot thank you enough for your support .
Together, we will make a difference!

Twelve Days of Growing: Day 8

Twelve Days of Growing: Day 8 150 150 Way to Grow

Day 8 – Great by Eight. Our Great by Eight program expanded our successful and statistically proven home-visiting model to include children from kindergarten (age 6) through 3rd grade (age 8). Building on the strong foundation of knowledge families receive in our early learning program and through intentional collaboration with all 34 elementary schools in the Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) district plus 6 Minneapolis public charter schools, Way to Grow teaches parents the core standards their children need to graduate from high school, and be college and career ready. Since the expansion, Way to Grow’s elementary students have made great strides in reaching grade level literacy benchmarks. During the 2012-2013 school year, 71% of kindergarten thru 2nd grade students were reading at or above grade level.

Way to Grow wants to make our schools stronger. To support our efforts with a year-end contribution, please click here or phone Melissa Meyer at (612) 874-4740.  To learn more about our programs, please explore our website.

Twelve Days of Growing: Day 5

Twelve Days of Growing: Day 5 150 150 Way to Grow

Day 5 – 5 years old. The age at which most social service interventions for children begin – five years too late. Way to Grow works with kids from the time they’re born to make sure they’re healthy and have a solid education. Studies prove that if a child receives support in developing physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills before age 5, he or she is more likely to succeed late in life. But we don’t quit at age 5, either. In 2010, we extended our program to serve children up to age 8, targeting critical third grade benchmarks. Way to Grow’s K-3 participants receive routine home visits designed to aid the child’s development while helping parents learn methods to support their education.

To make a financial contribution during our 12 Days of Growing campaign, please click here or phone Melissa Meyer at (612) 874-4740.  To learn more about our programs, please explore our website.

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