Building Language Arts Skills
Tips for Parents
- Using the basic format of one of the stories you read, write a story together with your child. You write the first few lines or paragraph, have your child write the second few lines or paragraph, and so on. This could be a long-term project that gives you a look at your child's understanding of story sequence and word meanings; it also encourages your child to write creatively.
Read newspaper headlines together and try to figure out what the story is about. This will help make the newspaper important to your child, as well as provide reading practice.
Keep adding new words to your conversations. This is one means of expanding your child's language base.
It is important that children know the names of objects in their environment; this is a base for future learning. 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 pine trees, birch trees, water towers, skyscrapers, grain elevators, movie theaters, " 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.
Committing things to memory is a good exercise for the early years. Each of you memorize a poem or story to tell to the other.
Play games based on words. For example, say, "I can visualize something that is blue and white and round and is in the living room. What is it?" You and your child take turns. Keep adding variables -- size, substance, or use -- to the descriptions.
As you read a story to your child, occasionally ask, "What does that remind you of? What do you see in your mind?" Mental images are important to ongoing learning. You and your child might even try sketching the images.
Folktales and myths are typically part of the third-grade curriculum. See what your child knows about Robin Hood, Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyan, King Arthur, Brer Rabbit, Zeus, Apollo, or Prometheus. Read folktales and myths to each other.
Read signs together as you go for walks: stop signs, street names, product signs, billboards, and the names on cars, trucks, and buildings.
Reprinted from 101 Educational Conversations with Your 3rd 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.