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Talking to Your Second-Grader about Language and the Arts

  • Read a story to your child, then ask him or her to tell the story back to you. This is essentially an effort to see what listening skills your child has developed. Is he or she able to relate the major elements of the story? Does he or she understand the story?
  • You should read to your child every day during these early, formative years. Your child's interest in the stories you read will tell you a great deal about his or her developing listening and comprehension skills. By sometimes asking your child to tell the story back to you, you not only observe the growth of these skills but also encourage two-way communication.
  • Using the format of one of the stories you read, write a story together with your child. You write the first line, have your child write the second, on so on. This is another way of ascertaining whether your child understands story sequence; it also encourages the child to write creatively.
  • Read newspaper headlines together and try to figure out what the story is about. This will help make the newspaper important to your child, as well as providing reading practice.
  • Draw a picture together with your child; then each of you tell a story from it.
  • Keep adding new words to your conversations. This is one means of expanding your child's language base.
  • See how well your child listens to and passes on information. Ask your child to remind his or her mother, father, brother, or sister of something.
  • It is important that children know the names of objects in their environment. You can gain insight into what your child knows by playing games. You might look at a photograph or illustration and say, "Let's find all the ponds, lakes, birch trees, trucks, hills, street names, restaurants," and so on.
  • Give each other words, with the idea that you are to make up a story around the word. This is an interesting way to see what words your child is learning and how he or she understands them.
  • Committing things to memory is a good exercise for the early years. Each of you memorize a poem or story to tell to the other.
Reprinted from 101 Educational Conversations with Your 2nd 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.

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