How do I know what to suggest to my third grade son to read? When I go to the bookstore or to the library, I am so overwhelmed.
Begin by noting your son’s interests. Convincing him to read will be less of a challenge if you focus on what he enjoys doing. Then get an idea about his reading level. If you are unsure about this, check with his teacher. It is not necessary to know exactly where he is in terms of level, but knowing whether he is at grade level or significantly above or below will help you select appropriate books. With his interests and ability level in mind, you can get more specific information about options from a number of places.
Many classroom teachers have book suggestions based on years of experience, so asking your son’s teacher is a good starting point. Then check with the school librarian, who is a handy expert on this topic. Most school librarians are eager to offer suggestions for students (or for parents!) based on what they see other students reading and on their own awareness of reading trends. Two resources that provide lists organized by topic and age appropriateness are The Children’s Literature Lover’s Book of Lists (J. Sullivan) and The Big Book of Children’s Reading Lists (N. Keane). The American Library Association also offers lists of award winning books as well as those that librarians across the country recommend.
My daughter loves to read and goes through books rapidly, sometimes reading several chapter books in one week. I am glad she enjoys this, but how can I tell if she understands what she is reading?
The quickest way to get an idea of how well your daughter comprehends what she reads is to ask her to tell you about her book. Listening to her summarization can give you a good indication of how she understands what she reads. Does she provide a great deal of detail, or is she sharing only the barest skeleton of a story line? If she provides a basic answer, probe further by asking about her favorite character or the most important thing that happened in the story. If she includes many details and can tell about why things happened when they did, she has strong comprehension skills.
Consider doing a book study with her. Have her choose a book that the two of you will read together. Decide ahead of time what you will discuss when you finish the book. She can create a short list of discussion questions based on the book jacket and the first chapter. As the two of you talk about the book, you will get a clear idea of how strong her comprehension is.
Our school recently expanded its one-to-one technology program to include sixth graders. My son will be in sixth grade next year, and he is thrilled. I am quite apprehensive. How can I best prepare for this?
As a family, read over the school rules for technology use at school. Emphasize your support of technology as a resource and a tool for skill application, and your support of the school’s restrictions. Together establish rules for your household. You may want to limit your son’s computer usage to an area of the house where you are present, or at least where you pass through frequently. Knowing that you have a watchful eye will help keep him from being distracted by games or social media.
Discuss social media at length. Emphasize the public and usually lasting nature of anything posted. Stressing kindness and consideration of others is a must. Explain that the simplest thing, intended as a joke, can explode into a major misunderstanding without the benefit of facial expression and tone of voice to make meaning clear.
Become familiar with how to check your son’s usage history and commit to checking it at random times. Even kids who are very responsible with exemplary behavior can happen upon inappropriate sites very innocently and become a victim of someone’s bad intentions. Your follow-up is critical to your son’s well-being.
Practically speaking, helping your son become familiar with his computer will save lots of headaches later on. Show him how to save documents, as well as how to back them up on a flash drive. These practices will be taught at school, but learning this early on will help proper saving of documents become a habit.
For your son to make the most efficient use of his computer, having some basic keyboarding skills will prove to be a great asset. There are many free practice sites with kid-friendly tips and games to familiarize your son with typing, a skill currently given very little school time.
Ask the Teacher is written by Deb Krupowicz, a mother of four and current teacher. Deb holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and has over twenty years of experience teaching preschool, elementary and middle school students. Please send your questions to her at [email protected]