How Parents Can Support the Common Core Reading Standards
Is your school using the new Common Core standards? This is a big change for students — and their parents. Get to know what the four main areas of the Common Core reading standards mean and simple things you can do at home to help your child build skills in these areas.
The Common Core State Standards are national standards that say what K-12 students are expected to learn in math and the English language arts. For older students, the standards expand to include literacy in history/social studies, science and technical subjects.
Despite the complexities of the standards, there are several basic ways parents can support their child's learning. The recommendations below line up with the four broad areas of the Common Core reading standards: Key Ideas and Details, Craft and Structure, Integration of Knowledge and Ideas, and Range and Level of Complexity.
Key Ideas and Details
What it means: Your child will be encouraged to carefully read many books and texts. Within these texts, your child will be working to understand what is happening, summarize key events or points and recall details important to the story or topic.
How parents can help: After you share a story, talk about important story elements such as beginning, middle and end. Encourage your child to retell or summarize the reading. After reading nonfiction, ask questions about the information, "Is the spider an insect? How is a spider different than an insect?"
Craft and Structure
What it means: The standards within this area (or "strand") focus on specifics within a book, for example, an author's specific word choices or phrases. A second emphasis relates to understanding the underlying structure of common types of texts, including storybooks, poems and more.
How parents can help: During and after reading, call attention to interesting words and phrases. This may include repeated phrases, metaphors or idioms ("sick as a dog," "a dime a dozen.") Talk about any new vocabulary and other ways the author used language or words to make the text interesting, informative, funny or sad.
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
What it means: Within this strand, students will be working to compare and contrast details from stories, describe key ideas using details in informational text, and tell how two texts on the same topic differ.
How parents can help: For younger students, encourage your child to describe how the illustrations within a book support the story. For older students, have fun reading different versions of the same fairy or folk tale. Talk about the similarities and differences between the two books. Then switch to nonfiction and read two books on the same topic. Compare the information in each, again focusing on similarities and differences. "Let's look at each book and think about the words used to describe weather. How are the descriptions alike? How are they different?"
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity
What it means: Teachers will be using a variety of techniques to introduce a range of books and other written material that both support and challenge a child's reading level. This may include nonfiction and fiction, infographics, poetry and more. This will be done with the ultimate goal of making sure students understand what they're reading.
How parents can help: Parents can help promote their child's skill while developing their reading stamina (ability to "stick with it."). This means helping them avoid frustration or anxiety about tackling a harder book. Support your reader by talking through some of the things that make a text complex, including multiple levels of meaning, inferred information (implied rather than clearly stated) or more sophisticated graphics.