Why should the learning stop when the kids leave the classroom? Here are some simple things you and your fourth grader can do at home to build academic skills in reading, math, science, and history.
OPEN YOUR MIND'S EYE
As you read a story to your child, occasionally ask, "What does that remind you of? What do you see in your mind?" Mental images are important to ongoing learning. (You and your child might even try sketching images.)
HOW TALL IS THAT TREE?
Engage in estimations with your child. Ask, "How far do you think it is from here to the corner? The mall? School?" "How tall do you think that tree is?" When you go shopping, say, "I can only spend $25, so you try to estimate when we are close to the limit." When traveling by car, see who can make the closest estimate of 1 mile, then 5 miles; use the odometer to check.
CLASSIFY THE CREATURE
When you see a living creature on a walk, on television, or in a book or movie, classify it as an amphibian, mammal, bird, reptile, fish, insect, or crustacean. If you are not sure of a particular creature's category, research it together in a directory, encyclopedia, or animal book.
TV HISTORY LESSONS
Watch the television news together on occasion. Let the events on the news -- human interest stories, hurricanes, elections, and the peoples and events of other countries -- become a basis for conversation. You might also watch documentaries about historical figures with your child; biography is a good basis for helping children learn about history. Such documentaries are becoming more common, especially on public television and certain cable networks.
Reprinted from 101 Educational Conversations with Your 4th Grader by Vito Perrone, published by Chelsea House Publishers.
Copyright 1994 by Chelsea House Publishers, a division of Main Line Book Co. All rights reserved.