Building Language Arts Skills

Kindergarten to Grade 1
Tips for Parents

  • Read a story to your child, then ask the child to tell the story back to you. This is essentially an effort to see what listening skills your child has developed. Is he or she able to relate the major elements of the story? Does he or she understand the story?

  • You should read to your child every day during these early, formative years. Your child's interest in the stories you read will tell you a great deal about his or her developing listening and comprehension skills. By sometimes asking your child to tell the story back to you, you not only observe the growth of these skills but also encourage two-way communication.

  • Using the format of one of the stories you read, write a story together with your child. You write the first line, have your child dictate the second, and so on. This is another way of ascertaining whether your child understands story sequence and knows the connection between speech and writing. It is a way to begin the writing process.

  • The Mother Goose rhymes and stories contain wonderful imagery and interesting language. Ask your child what stories from Mother Goose his or her teacher is reading. Read them also at home. Children's favorites often include "Jack and Jill," "Little Boy Blue," "Jack Be Nimble," "Mary Had a Little Lamb," "Three Blind Mice," and such folktales as "The Three Little Pigs," "Rumpelstiltskin," and "Jack and the Beanstalk."

  • Draw a picture together with your child; then each of you tell a story from it.

  • Directions are important for many areas of study. You can see how well your child understands right and left, up and down, in front of and behind, above and below, with several familiar games. Simon Says ("Put your right hand up," and so on) is filled with learning possibilities.

  • Following directions is a constructive way to learn the language of direction. Occasionally you can provide such tasks as "Can you bring me the red book? It is just to the left of the blue book." (Or to right, or above, or below.)

  • See how well your child listens to and passes on information. Ask your child to remind his or her mother, father, brother, or sister of something.

  • It is important that children know the names of objects in their environment. You can gain insight into what your child knows by playing games. You might look at a photograph or illustration and say, "Let's find all the men, women, chimneys, windows, dogs, cats, flowers, streetlights, road signs, restaurants," and so on.

  • Give each other words, with the idea that you are to make up a story around the word. This is an interesting way to see what words your child is learning and how he or she understands them.

Reprinted from 101 Educational Conversations with Your Kindergartner -- 1st Grader by Vito Perrone, published by Chelsea House Publishers.
Copyright 1994 by Chelsea House Publishers, a division of Main Line Book Co. All rights reserved.

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