Fifth Grade: Testing… Testing
This is the year when standardized testing kicks in big-time, and so do the demands on kids. “We're trying to be competitive with countries like China. Fifth-graders are learning things most of us didn't learn till a year or two later,” says Candace Hall, a sixth-grade teacher and intervention specialist for fifth-through eighth-graders at Fleetwood Area School District, in Fleetwood, PA. Math-wise, steel yourself for geometry and complex fractions; your child will also have to show his work, not just hand in the answer. Reading alone will take 15 to 20 minutes per evening, and your child will often have to keep a log you'll need to sign, provide written answers to general questions, and make book reports. Social-studies and science projects will pop up regularly, too—some to be done with a team of kids, others over a length of time that can run from a couple of weeks to a month (for example, writing a report on the geography and history of the Silk Road).
Conversation Starter: Keep tabs on how well your child understands what he's reading—without hovering. Try casually saying “That book looks good. What's it about?”
Pointer-Provider: If your kid's stuck on a problem, give hints rather than the answer. For example, say “Well, what would happen if you reduced the fraction first?” and let him take it from there. Or have him ping a friend—collaborative effort is a good thing at this age anyway.
Newshound: Many fifth-graders have homework related to current and world events, “but a lot of families don't read newspapers anymore,” says Rooney. Bookmark several good websites, and help your child learn to navigate them.
•NIGHTLY AMOUNT: ABOUT 50 MINUTES TO AN HOUR
•SECRET-WEAPON WEBSITE: INTERNET 4CLASS ROOMS.COM HAS WORD PROBLEMS, BRAINTEASERS, AND TARGETED GRADE-LEVEL HELP IN A WIDE RANGE OF SUBJECTS.
•BIG-PICTURE GOALS: BUILDING TEST-PREP, MATH, AND READING-COMPREHENSION SKILLS; TEACHING TEAMWORK