Dear Escalante Middle School Community,
One of the questions parents frequently ask teachers and administrators is how can I directly support my student’s academic growth in reading or math at home?
The most important habit for children to adopt in middle school is regular reading for pleasure. Recent research from Common Sense Media states that only 27% of 13-year-old students read daily outside of school. This 27 % of students are creating a clear advantage in comprehension, vocabulary development, and background knowledge over their peers. In fact, students who read regularly over the summer actually score higher on assessments when they return to school than when they left, whereas students who don’t read experience what educators have dubbed the dreaded summer slide.
Scholastic offers the following tips for parents to help their students develop a love of reading:
1. Let your child choose what to read. While you may cringe at the preferences, your child may never touch a title if it's force-fed.
2. Talk about what they read. Ask them what they think of a book and make connections with ideas or issues that are relevant to their life.
3. Subscribe to magazines that will interest them. Ask them to choose one or two titles and put the subscription in their name.
4. Read the news together. Whether it's for 15 minutes over breakfast or on weekends, establish a routine and discuss what you each read.
5. Play games that utilize reading. Word- and vocabulary-building games like Scrabble or Boggle are great, but many board games provide reading opportunities (even if it's just the instructions). Crosswords provide opportunities for learning new words and spelling practice, too.
6. Encourage your middle schooler to read to a younger sibling. Letting them take over ritual reading at bedtime once a week will ensure they read something, and they may find a sibling's enthusiasm for stories contagious.
7. Visit the library together. Try to make it an event where you share some quality one-on-one time and both choose a few books.
8. Find an outlet for your child to "publish" a book review. When finishing a book, encourage them to write it up for a family or school newspaper, magazine, or website. They could also try posting a review at a local bookseller or an online retailer.
9. Ensure they have a good reading space. They should choose where it is, but you can make sure it's well lit and inviting so they stay a while.
10. Keep up on what they’re reading. If you can, read a few pages of their books yourself so you can discuss them with them.
11. Encourage writing. Whether it's via snail-mail or e-mail, suggest they keep in touch with distant friends or relatives. Keeping a journal or chronicling a family vacation will also provide reading practice.
12. Suggest books from movies. They may enjoy getting even more detail in the book.
13. Listen to books on tape in the car. If you're heading on vacation, or even back-and-forth to school, try listening to a novel that will appeal to everyone.
14. Model reading. Your pre-teen will still follow your reading habits (though they'll never let you know it!). Let them see you reading, make comments, and share interesting passages.
In addition, there are also several ways to support math at home. Because students in middle school form strong judgments about their academic ability, the most important way to support math is to talk about it positively. Statements from parents such as, “I’m not a math person” will negatively reinforce students’ math development. Considering that the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects math occupations to grow at 12.7% over this decade, it is extremely important that none of our students close the door to those opportunities with choices in adolescence.
The National Council for Teaching Mathematics offers the following tips for parents on how to show how math is meaningful and build important middle school math concepts.
1. Read schedules, such as the television guide and bus transportation schedules for information.
2. Discuss charts, tables, and graphs from the newspaper and magazines. Ask your child to explain the data. For example, in a graph that shows what children like to do before bedtime (watch television, play games on the computer, read, etc.), you might ask such questions as “More than half of children like to do what activity before bedtime?”
3. Look at a map with your child to figure out how long a trip will take and what time you should leave in order to arrive on time. Calculate the gasoline mileage, and estimate the total cost of gasoline for long trips.
4. Give your child a budget and the responsibility for purchasing clothing or other items. Encourage your child to compare prices and note the savings for items that are on sale. For example, how much would be saved by purchasing the shoes that are 30 percent off?
Many thanks for your continued support as we partner together to make the most out of these middle years!