Tips & Tricks for Parents

 

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Talking about English texts

As part of your daughter's homeschool program, she'll have to discuss books she's read in depth. Doing so will improve her critical-thinking skills and help her understand literature better. As you plan a lesson centered around a passage or chapter, use these tips for fostering effective discussions:

Ask for her initial impressions
You can start a literature discussion by asking your daughter what stood out to her when reading. This first step helps get the conversation going and gives her a chance to share what she learned. Her response should be about the plot, characters, writing style or main idea of the text, each of which can lead to deeper discussion.

Be more specific
If your daughter doesn't seem to have any first impressions, help guide her, but don't provide an answer. For instance, if your lesson for the day is about character development, you may ask your daughter if she noticed changes in the characters throughout the story. Did any act differently, and if so, where did it happen and why? 

This jogs your daughter's memory and guides her toward your goal for the day.

Refer back to text
Whatever you end up discussing during your lesson, always relate it back to the text. Make sure your daughter can back up her claims with evidence in the form of quotes. You can do this by asking her where she got her ideas. Or say, "What passage led you to think that?" This teaches your daughter how to analyze and support her conclusions.

Ask for clarification
When your daughter tells you something from her reading, repeat it back to her. For instance you might say, "So you're saying that ... Is that correct?" This gives her a chance to hear what she said and ensure it's what she meant. Not only does the exercise improve her communication, but it also gets her thinking more about her reading and her initial hypothesis.

Play devil's advocate
In a homeschool co-op setting, other children can present different ideas and challenge your daughter. At home, you should play that role. Present an opposing idea and encourage your daughter to engage you in conversation. Discussing this way helps your daughter think differently than she normally would and critically analyze both your idea and hers.