Chalk Talk: Good Grades Gone Bad

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Fifth grade is often a time when parents see changes in their students’ grades, and there are several possible reasons for these changes. Strategies you can use at home will benefit your student this year and as he or she moves into middle school. Although a tutor can be a valuable partner, one may not be necessary.

The curriculum in fifth grade is substantially more difficult that earlier grades. It often requires complex analysis of information and application of information to new situations, not simply memorization of facts. Much of the content may be new to students.

A second aspect of fifth grade is the expectation of independence and personal responsibility. Students are expected to take ownership of their learning. This will include recording assignments and due dates, obtaining materials, and daily preparations.

Fifth-grade students often have difficulty with organization and study skills. Students will be expected to take notes in class in addition to reading textual material. Rubrics, handouts and supplemental materials all must be managed and maintained.

As a parent you can help your child organize his or her materials and develop time management skills using the following tips:

• Use a calendar or day planner to record events and commitments outside of school as well as homework and project due dates.

• Set mini deadlines for projects to avoid a last minute panic and poor presentation.

• Provide a consistent, quiet place for homework and enough time for your child to review and reflect on her work and assignments.

• Begin studying for tests several days in advance.

• Engage him in conversations about what he is learning, and ask questions that require him to apply his learning to new situations.

If these strategies do not improve a child’s grades, after discussion with the teacher, you may wish to seek a tutor who can review and reinforce the content outside of school.

Janet Puckett Wade is a fifth-grade teacher at Sharon Elementary. She has a law degree and certification in elementary education.