Teaching

Parent Guide to Elementary School English

Studying English at the elementary level incorporates many different skills ranging from phonics, vocabulary, and reading comprehension to spelling, printing/cursive writing, written language, and communicating.

Studying English at the elementary level incorporates many different skills ranging from phonics, vocabulary, and reading comprehension to spelling, printing/cursive writing, written language, and communicating.

At first, you might think that learning English in today’s elementary classroom may not have changed that much since you were in school because…well, English is English. However, if you look more closely, you will see that there is new terminology used in the educational curriculum as well as an infusion of technology employed as a process in learning and as a product of the students’ learning.

One suggestion that would help you to more fully understand the scope of English instruction is to review your child’s workbooks and textbooks that are used in the classroom. This will give you a better idea of what English skills are covered for that particular grade level. You can also benefit from carefully reviewing any information the classroom teacher has provided to parents that deal with the English skills being taught and the expectations for the students.

Parent-teacher conferences are an ideal time to discuss questions and concerns you may have about the English classes and your child’s progress. In addition, the classroom teacher most likely has informed you of how they prefer to be contacted should parents need to throughout the year. Don’t be afraid to do so. Teachers like involved parents who care about their children’s learning and recognize the power of the partnership between teacher and parents.

To support your child’s English learning, it is important that you ensure that your child completes their homework and has the necessary supplies at home and school to succeed. Your child needs proper nutrition, adequate rest, and exercise to be attentive and to thrive as a learner. A quiet place to study and a designated time to study are also important factors to consider.

Another general suggestion is to show genuine interest in what your child is learning in English class by asking questions (don’t be too overbearing 😊) about what they are studying in class and what they have done that given day.

There are many opportunities for your child to see the role English plays in everyday life. Allow your child to see you read the newspaper, magazines, and books. Share books with your child to help cultivate an enjoyment in reading. Read to them every day as their minds are growing and they can develop a myriad of language skills through reading. Help them get a library card from their local library if they don’t have one. Take time to frequently visit a bookstore (with your child) that sells children’s books. Consider buying a year subscription to a children’s magazine (Highlights or another magazine or monthly book order). Remember that books and magazines make great gifts and children enjoy getting mail addressed to them!

Write often and encourage them to write, too, whether it is a thank you note, birthday greeting, or their own creative story or play. Help them start a journal or diary. Take your child to community children’s plays and puppet shows. Share the love of words with your child. You might try some tongue twisters, riddles, jokes, exposure to a new word each day, word puzzles, etc.

Additionally, you can give your child opportunities for public speaking if there are elementary forensics or afterschool/summer enrichment programs that focus on any number of language skills. Let them show and tell at home and encourage them to do so at school as well. Stay aware of the children’s programs your local library offers that build on language skills.

In addition, there are many online resources that you can explore to gain valuable insights about the English language and how you can nurture your child in this subject area. These are four worthy online resources for parents to check out:

  1. Common Core Standards in Language Arts is a detailed list of broad standards. They emphasize the skills in the English language that K-12 students throughout the United States should know at the conclusion of each school grade. (The Common Core Standards are also available for math.) You can scan the standards to see the expected skills for literature, informational text, foundational skills, writing, speaking and listening, and language skills.
  2. IXL Language Arts provides descriptions and examples of the various language skills from phonics and reading comprehension to writing strategies for Pre-K students through the elementary grades and beyond. These skills will help learners develop successful communication skills for school and in the future. You can click on any number of skills to get a description of that skill and how you can help your child practice that skill.
  3. Reading Recess includes many different types of online games but their Reading Learning Games are especially noteworthy. These games can be used to practice educational strategies, main idea, author’s purpose, cause and effect, fact and opinion, context clues, drawing conclusions, and more. (These are all essential Common Core Standards). ELA (English Language Arts) and Word Games is another component of Reading Recess that offers practice in the areas of grammar, spelling, sight words, and other important language arts skills.
  4. Caldecott and Newbery Award Winners consist of selected outstanding creative writers and distinguished artists for their children’s picture books. A suggestion would be to look over the list of award winners from 1922 to the present time and check out some of the titles from a library or find them in a bookstore to purchase. Quality literature goes a long way in impacting your child’s English skills.

I think you will agree that learning the English language is not an easy task. There are many, many facets to language learning and varied skills to master along the way. However, your support of what is being taught in the classroom and of your child’s individual progress will help ensure a successful journey in learning English. This will impact your child’s confidence level and their respective skills in school and out of school.

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