Tag Archives: parents

Ask Your 5th Grader!

If you have a child entering into the 5th grade this year, you may want to check on a few skills to make sure your child is developing them as he or she progresses through the school year.  Fifth grade obviously prepares a child for 6th grade and middle school…

Many children who aren’t prepared to take algebra or pre-algebra in middle school fall behind in math during high school because it is hard to make up ground as you are trying to re-learn the fundamentals of math (i.e. division, fractions, basic operations, etc…) while also trying to learn geometry and algebra II.

Furthermore, if a child has not mastered basic concepts around structuring a paragraph and writing a report, while in middle school, it will be difficult for that child to excel in high school because almost every class could call for some type of writing assignment as a part of its requirements.  English, history, social studies, health, foreign languages, biology, chemistry, even math… might require different types of writing assignments during high school and middle school.

Therefore, as your child progresses through the 5th grade there may be a few skills you will want to make sure your child develops:

1.  Division

Ask your child’s teacher what your child will learn in math this year. Find out when the more difficult concepts will be taught.  For many children, dividing by double-digit numbers can be a challenge.  In the 5th grade a child should be able to divide by two digit numbers, without using a calculator (e.g. 967 ÷ 38 = 25.45).

Ask your child to complete several math problem requiring division by double digit numbers (e.g. 100 ÷ 47 = 2.13 or 500 ÷ 51 = 9.80). This will require your child to do long division, add, subtract, and work with decimals to get the answer.

This is a good way to “check” many of the fundamental skills taught in elementary school math thus far.  If your child is having difficulty, ask the teacher for additional worksheets and guidance about what you can do at home to support your child’s development.

2.  Fractions

Fractions are also an important part of development in math.  Ask your child to complete math problems with fractions. For example, adding and subtracting mixed numbers with common denominators:

6 ¼ + 4 ¼ = 10 ½  or 5 ¾ – 4 ¼ = 1 ½

3.  Writing

Children in 5th grade should be able to write a multi-paragraph report with a clear topic sentence, separate paragraphs to support their topic sentence, and a concluding paragraph.  This can be done about a topic they have researched, something they have read, or about a specific topic given to them like “Write a report about why our school should purchase new playground equipment.”  This should be done with a clear topic sentence and details to support the child’s opinion.

I have noticed that some elementary schools don’t require a lot of writing of children at this stage, while others do.

If your child’s class requires these types of writing assignments, follow up on these assignments with your child.  Check to see if your child is following the instructions.  Often there is a rubric, or guide, for what should be included and how it should be structured.  Read through the rubric and make sure your child understands it.  Many times these types of rubrics will be used by states, on state exams, to assess a child’s writing skills.

When it comes to standardized exams, often your child’s teacher might not even be the person grading your child’s writing assignments.  So it is important for your child to learn how to follow the rubrics (instructions) and to learn how to write an effective report.

If your child’s fifth grade class does not require these types of writing assignments, ask your child to complete them at home. Potential topics can be:  “The Perfect Day,” “Why My Parents Should Buy Me My Favorite Toy/Game,” or “Who is Your Favorite Person in History and Why?”  If you need help and guidance about how to structure these assignments some of the worksheets at Ten Things Your Child Should Know.com might be able to help.

4.  Reading

Reading is simply fundamental to just about everything we do and to just about everything your child will do in school.  You want your child to enjoy reading and you want your fifth grader to feel more and more confident about reading.  To that end:

Ask your child to read a book of about 150 pages or more. As children get older, more complex reading materials will be a part of their assignments in school.  As a matter of fact, we learn more and more from reading different types of material as we get older; while we are mostly “learning to read” when we are younger.

If your child is not a strong reader he or she will likely not do well in school.

These are a few of the skills you can work on with your child as he or she progresses through the fifth grade.

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Budget Cuts: Are School Systems Changing Right Before Our Eyes and What Does This Mean For Your Child?

The Los Angeles School District recently struck an agreement with the city’s teacher’s union; agreeing to cut 5 days from the school year this year and 7 days from the school year next year, due to budget cuts.

This deal was needed to avoid the possible laying off of teachers, counselors, and other school officials.  LA, like other school districts around the country, is facing a budget crisis due to the slow economy and reduced revenues from taxes.

I understand that something has to be done…. school closings, reduced days in school, less teachers, larger class sizes, etc… are all ways school districts are trying to deal with decreases in funding.

But what does this do to our children in the short-run and in the long-run?  Are we going to produce some children, over the next couple of years, who are more ill-prepared academically, because there is so much flux in school systems across the country?

Because they are sitting in larger classes?  Because they have less days of instruction in the school year?  Because teachers may be concerned about keeping their jobs?  Because certain school programs may be cut?

As parents, we have to get involved.  We have to find out if there are any cuts that will affect our children in the schools they attend.  We have to make sure our voices are heard and WE have to understand WHAT our children need to learn in order to be successful academically.  If we don’t, there is no guarantee our children will graduate with what they need to be successful in the 21st century.

Take a look at Education World and see if there are standards that can help you raise your child’s academic abilities and see if you can work with your child’s school/teachers to ensure your child gets what he or she needs academically.

Free Educational Resources!

Very COOL website with FREE resources for education. Everything from algebra to US History.  Check it out. http://www.free.ed.gov/

Ask Your 2nd-Grader!

To help you determine how your child is progressing in second grade, you may want to conduct a few exercises.

Ask your 2nd-grader:

  1. To write three sentences about what he or she experienced in school today.
  2. To show you what 3 + 2 equals using pennies.
  3. To explain to you who the main character is in a story he or she has just read.
  4. To find the answer to the problem:  87 – 51 = ?

These are just a few exercises you can do to help you see how your child is coming along in 2nd grade.

If you would like more information take a closer look at:

Ten Things Your Child Should Know about Reading, Writing, and Math