During fifth grade, teachers start to prepare students for the transition into middle school. The amount of new material introduced at this level increases substantially, but you can help lighten the workload.
Below are 5 tips to help your fifth-grader adjust to a faster, more challenging pace.
1. Reading: Students will be challenged to get to the bottom of every book, learning to identify the five stages of plot in fiction. Your child will study and read the different genres of literature and write book reports. Suggest your child become a book reporter and deliver a mock news brief on an important scene in a favorite story, treating the characters like real people. This activity will require your child to narrow his or her focus and decide which information to highlight. In doing so he or she may have the beginnings of a book report.
2. Writing: Research reports at this level require more research and more words—at least five pages worth. This involves identifying and drawing from several sources, creating an outline and citing sources. It’s important to master this skill because students will likely have to write research papers for other classes. Even creative writing becomes more structured, requiring a clear introduction, body and conclusion. Find a short story that has a clear introduction and conclusion. Enlist three family members—one to represent the story’s introduction, another the body and the third, the conclusion. Each person will read a few paragraphs aloud, standing out of order so, for example, the introduction is read last. Challenge your child to identify the different elements and then re-order each person so that the story can be read in the correct order.
3. Arithmetic: Fractions, decimals and percents! Oh my! Students will be working with them in ever more complicated ways. Included in the curriculum will be lessons about volume and area, and teachers may also introduce some more basic concepts from algebra. At this grade level, students may be grouped according to where they are in the learning process. If your child is put with slower learners who receive extra help, don’t let them feel left behind. 5th grade math games take away some of the stress because kids learn while playing.
4. Homework: Expect your child to bring home at least one hour of homework most nights. Discuss different ways to get the work done while leaving time for after-school activities and fun. Buy your child a calendar and multicolored pens—blue stands for school work, red for soccer, etc. Help your child carve out a quiet “study center” in his or her room or another part of the house. Make it comfortable and inviting: buy colorful throw pillows or hang a photo of Einstein as inspiration. Include a table or sturdy surface for such extreme assignments as research papers.
5. Standardized Testing: So much to learn, so little time—how does test prep fit into the equation? To prepare for the middle school standardized writing tests, teachers may have students write in a daily journal. Students will likely take standardized math tests during fifth grade, to measure whether they are up to speed on the state’s math curriculum. Tell your child early in the year that staying on top of their math lessons will help them do well on the standardized exam. Practice breathing techniques—it’s OK to get silly with it—and give them a special brain food snack pack to take with them on the big day.