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The Reading Connection


How to Help Your Child Develop Critical Thinking Skills

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 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.

– Jackie Knapp & Jennifer Grannis

May 2017 Tiger Times