For parents of elementary school students in the Rye City School District, Common Core is everywhere.
By Sarah Varney
For parents of elementary school students in the Rye City School District, Common Core is everywhere. This is especially apparent to parents of primary students who are learning to read.
The District is now using an approach called “Balanced Literacy” to teach K-2 students to think ‘between the lines’ in both Math and Language.
The nitty-gritty of helping your child to think critically was the purpose of a parent workshop, “Talking About Texts With Your Children,” at Osborn School last month. District literacy consultant Shelly Klein hosted the presentation. Among her points was that reading aloud to your 5- to 7-year olds is more valuable than making them read to you.
“It’s important to remember that a child’s listening comprehension exceeds decoding ability at this age,” Klein noted. “It takes away the performance issue and the closeness opens up conversations about the story with your child. Parents should remember that you still represent the model for how really good reading can sound,” said Klein.
By reading a harder book aloud, children are exposed to higher-level vocabulary and more complex characters, noted Klein.
The idea is to involve your child in the ideas and themes underlying the story — to read with meaning. That involvement encourages the kind of critical and analytic thinking needed to understand both fiction and non-fiction.
“What you’re doing is growing meaning. When you read to your child you want to elicit and grow a conversation about the story. Every book has a kernel of meaning, uncovering that kernel is like figuring out a secret,” added Klein.
Klein encourages parents to ask children to share what their thoughts as the story progresses. But that’s not the same as telling your child to predict the next plot development with accuracy, she stresses. Talking about a character’s motivation, likening the characters to people in the child’s life, closely examining descriptive words used by the author are all examples of how a parent might develop a conversation about the story as it is read aloud.
As for reading nonfiction texts to your young children in order to meet the Common Core’s guideline of 70 percent non-fiction, 30 percent fiction, don’t worry about it, said Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Betty Ann Wyks. “That 70/30 idea has led to a lot of misunderstanding among parents. As your child progresses through elementary school and beyond, he or she will have the skills necessary to tackle non-fiction as needed.”
So put that serious book away and break out a Bill Peet story