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Phoenix Forward magazine

How parents can prepare kids for Common Core

Common Core learning standards

“Common Core bumps [education] up a notch for both students and parents, and it’s going to take collaboration between teachers and the community to succeed,” says Lesa Lindberg, EdD, a middle school assistant principal who teaches general education courses at the University of Phoenix Little Rock Campus.

But following the new standards is easier than it may seem, she notes, advising that there’s no need for parents to panic about what their kids will be asked to do. Here, Lindberg offers four ways parents can get on board:


Use Common Core books at home.

Half of the new standards are dedicated to language arts, so making reading a family activity can go a long way toward helping kids get the most out of their studies, Lindberg says. She notes that companies like Scholastic have created reading lists by grade level that match the types of texts students will have to analyze, and that even 15 minutes of reading per day can make a difference.

“Engage in active discussion with kids about what they’re reading,” Lindberg says. “Compare and contrast different types of books, especially if you have kids of different ages.”


Visit the library.

Under Common Core, students are required to conduct in-depth research from multiple sources and then discuss their findings with peers.

“Say a class is studying the Civil War,” Lindberg says. “You’ll go into a class and find kids in small groups, one listening to a podcast, another watching a video and a third reading an article. Then they’ll all come together to compare and contrast.” She points out that families can do similar activities on their own for an hour or two.

“Go to the public library as a family, with each member searching for information on a chosen topic from different types of media,” she suggests, noting that parents in her Arkansas school district are able to fit library time into their schedules. “Come together to share your findings, and continue the discussion at home around the dinner table.”


Join the Pinterest community.

This popular social media site “has many at-home Common Core activity suggestions,” Lindberg says, noting that new ones are pinned to the site every day by teachers, parents and curriculum developers.

These exercises can help kids have fun while preparing for the more rigorous Common Core math standards, which, according to Lindberg, are designed to be more in line with other countries’ levels of math achievement — such as requiring students to be prepared for Algebra I by eighth grade.

A quick search for Common Core math activities on the Pinterest® site turned up ideas for subtraction bowling and Play-Doh® math, which parents and kids can do at home together using materials they probably already have on hand.


Check out specific apps.

Lindberg recommends that parents browse the many Common Core apps available for iPad®, tablet and smartphone devices to help kids engage with technology and simplify homework time for parents. Popular free apps include ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard, StoryLines for Schools and iTooch Elementary School.

“I use many iPad apps with [my] sixth- to eighth-graders,” Lindberg says. “We know how much children love technology, and many of these apps turn Common Core learning into video games and activities that children will be eager to use.”

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Play-Doh is a registered trademark of Hasbro Inc.
iPad is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

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