Building Language Arts Skills
Tips for Parents
You should try to do some reading with your child on a regular basis.By now you know that as your child moves forward through the grades, his or herschedule becomes more active and self-initiated. You have probably find that itis not as easy as it once was to engage in daily reading together. At a minimum,though, try to spend some time on Sunday afternoons or evenings to read fromauthors such as Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, James Fenimore Cooper,Charlotte Bronte, Jack London, Langston Hughes, Virginia Sneve, Bret Harte, AlexHaley, or Louisa May Alcott, Edith Hamilton, C.S. Lewis, Sally Benson, or PaulLaurence Dunbar. Your child's interest in the stories you read will tell you agreat deal about his or her development in listening and comprehension.
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. Moreover, it does not take a great deal oftime.
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 is a way to tell yourchild that you value reading and ideas. It also gives you a chance to buildlater conversations around the books you have bought, by asking, "How wasthe 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.
Take your child to the movies occasionally -- rather than just sending himor her to the movies. You will not only enjoy the outing together, but the eventwill give you a natural opportunity for conversation about the film's character,setting, theme, moral dilemmas, and so on.
Each of you write an explanation of how to do something. For example, yourchild might decide to write a description of how to ride a bike while you willdescribe how to swim. Then see if your descriptions make sense to one another.Would your child's explanation help someone ride a bike for the first time?
Reprinted from 101 Educational Conversations with Your 5th 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.