Building Language Arts Skills
Tips for Parents
- You should try to do some reading with your child on a regular basis.As your child moves forward through the grades, his or her schedule will becomemore active and self-initiated. You will probably find that it is not as easy asit once was to engage in daily reading together. At a minimum, though, try tospend some time on Sunday afternoons or evenings to read from authors such asCharles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, James Fenimore Cooper, CharlotteBronte, Jack London, Langston Hughes, Bret Harte, Alex Haley, or Louisa MayAlcott. Your child's interest in the stories you read will tell you a great dealabout his or her development in listening and comprehension.
As you read a story to your child, occasionally ask, "What does thatremind you of? What do you see in your mind?" Mental images are importantto ongoing learning. (You and your child might even try sketching images.)
Using the basic format of one of the stories you read, write a storytogether with your child. You write the first few lines or paragraph, have yourchild write the second few lines or paragraph, and so on. This could be along-term project that gives you a look at your child's understanding of storysequence and word meanings; it also encourages the child to write creatively.Save these stories so you and your child can look at them together at a latertime.
Begin making a journal of good times together -- possibly the highlights ofa trip, vacation, or family holiday. You and your child can each make entries.Read through what you have written from time to time.
Read newspaper headlines together and try to figure out what the story isabout. You might also make a point of reading aloud to each other one newspaperstory every day. This will help make the newspaper important to your child, aswell as provide reading practice.
Get in the habit of clipping from the newspaper things you think your childmight find interesting -- human interest stories, cartoons, news related to thelocal environment. Such pieces are natural starting points for conversation.
Committing things to memory is a good exercise throughout the intermediateand middle school years. Each of you memorize a poem or story to tell to theother -- one in the fall and one in the spring. The presentations can be familyevents.
Buy books for your child for special occasions. This gives you a chance tostructure later conversations about the book, by asking, "How was the book?What was the mystery?" and the like.
As your child reads, find time to ask, "What is the book about? Whoare the characters? What are they like? Where does the story take place?"Most children like to talk about what they are reading, as long as they do notperceive the questions to be either suspicious inquisitions or rote inquiriesdevoid of real interest.
Folktales and myths are often part of the fourth grade curriculum. See whatyour child knows about Robin Hood, Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyan, King Arthur,Brer Rabbit, Zeus, Apollo, or Prometheus. Read folktales and myths to eachother.
Reprinted from 101 Educational Conversations with Your 4th 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.