Common Core English Language Arts Standards: Tips for Parents

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Schools throughout the country are working to improve teaching and learning so all children will graduate high school with the 21st century skills they need to be successful in college, their careers and beyond! In English Language Arts (ELA), there are several changes that parents should be aware of. Students will, in addition to stories and literature, be required to read more non-fiction to learn important facts and background knowledge in subjects like history, art and science. They will need to read more challenging texts more closely and will be asked the kinds of questions where they will need to go back to the text to find answers. Students will need to learn how to make strong arguments and support their views using evidence from diverse viewpoints.

These changes outlined in the ELA Common Core Standards aim to prepare students for college and careers by:

  • Increasing the quality and amount of reading and writing students are doing on a wide range of subjects – you should see your student reading more closely about current events in news articles for example in addition to text books and novels and writing more frequently
  • Teaching students to work in teams to collaborate on tasks by listening to each other – you could see your student participating in teams tackling word games or preparing debates
  • Teaching students to make strong arguments both in writing and while speaking – you will see your student back up what they say with lots of evidence from text and not just from their opinion.
  • Teaching students to be independent readers and writers – you will see your student learn how to tackle difficult text and write clearly by themselves

Strategies parents can do to support ELA Common Core success:

  1.  Talk to your child’s teacher about how you can best support your child during the transition to the ELA Common Core.
  2. Get to know your child’s interests and choose books and magazines about those topics. Don’t worry if all they want to read about is cats for a couple of months or if they tire of a subject and move on. Find the zone that’s right for your child. Reading should not be a chore.
  3. Read to your child often – even just the sports section or in a language other than English.
  4. Answer questions by asking more questions whenever possible. Ask your child what they think the answer could be. Help them give reasons for their choices.
  5. For the reluctant reader, ask them to replace the name of an animal or character in a story with a familiar name from your child’s life, a pet or friend will do.
  6. Encourage your child to write letters or emails to relatives and friends describing their day or a recent celebration or event.
  7. For older children, talk about the news together. Pick one story in the news, read it together, and discuss with your child what it means. 
  8. Visit the campus of a local college with your teen. Have them write about what he or she expects from college. 
  9. Visit a local museum together. Take time to closely observe the details of the paintings or exhibits and talk about what you see there. Have your child draw and write about what you saw and experienced.

For more information for parents on Common Core for each grade level visit:
PTA Parent Guides to Common Core

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