January Tips for Parents
A recipe for writing
Many ingredients go into good writing. And as with cooking, a small change can make a big difference in the end result. Your child can turn in writing assignments that are clearer and more interesting with winning ingredients like these.
Triple scoop words
Good writers keep their reader interested and to write in such a way as to not confuse them. Adrienne Gear is a teacher/language specialist that has several writing techniques that teach kids how to engage their reader, and to keep their writing organized. We will be talking about these techniques over the course of the year and putting them into practice as much as possible. In the upcoming weeks we will continue to talk about the writing technique of triple scoop words. One way that writers keep their readers engaged is by choosing interesting words that convey ideas and meaning more effectively than more simple words. I had them think about ice cream and how getting one scoop of ice cream is ok, but it doesn't make you excited or happy, it doesn't leave you satisfied, but if you got three giant scoops of ice cream with toppings you are way more excited and are totally satisfied with the amount of ice cream you received. The same goes with words in your writing, you can say something is fun, but the word fun is a little boring, it doesn't make the reader want to read more. However, the word entertaining or engaging or stupendous would be much more interesting. So we went through a bunch of single scoop words and came up with synonyms for those words (for older kids a Thesaurus would be a great tool to use), and wrote them down on a piece of paper to have for future reference. I was amazed at some of the words they were able to come up with.
Do many sentences in your child’s story begin with The or I? Suggest that they start each sentence with a different word. They could try, “Despite the rain, the band marched across the field” instead of “The band marched across the field even though it was raining.” Idea: Have them circle the first word of each sentence to spot repetition easily. Or if they are working on a computer, they can use the “find” feature to locate overused words.
When one paragraph flows smoothly into another, it makes your child’s whole story or report work better. One strategy is to start paragraphs with transition words like first, next, or finally. Or they might include an introductory phrase (“In the meantime,” “On the other side of town”). In a report, they could begin a paragraph by referring to the previous one: “Not only do birds’ feathers help them fly, but their bones are important for flight, too.”
Ask your child about the sentence tricks they are learning!
Success with tough words
When your child encounters a new word while reading, how can they figure out what it means? These strategies will make it easier for them to read unfamiliar words.
Say it. Sometimes your child won’t recognize a word in print, but they will know it if they say it aloud. Suggest that they sound out a tough word—that might jog their memory about how they have heard it used before.
Use surrounding words. Have them read the whole sentence or paragraph for clues to the word’s meaning. If they see “The students convened in the auditorium to hear the principal speak,” they can think about what word could replace convened. (“Gathered makes sense there--convened must mean gathered.”)
Come back to it. Can your child understand the rest of the page or paragraph without figuring out an unfamiliar word? Encourage them to jot down the word (along with the page number) and keep going. It might appear later in the chapter, and they may realize what it means in that sentence. If not, they can look it up in the glossary or dictionary. Once they know the meaning, they should re-read the original passage.
Two of the most important tools for students is editing and adding detail! Keep things creative and fresh!
VTT's Yachad theme this month is "Healthy Living". You can support this by emphasizing healthy eating and exercise at home. Having your child(ren) assist in planning, buying groceries for, and preparing healthy meals is a great way to teach healthy eating. You can ensure that your child gets plenty of exercise by engaging in whole-family activities (walking, jogging, biking, basketball, swimming, skiing, etc). Getting enough sleep and staying home when sick are also ways to reinforce healthy living.