Elementary Concepts: Fifth Grade Reading

Is your fifth grade student reading at a fifth grade level? Learn about some of the skills that students in grade 5 should master before the end of the year.

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Evaluating a child's reading skills can be difficult because many parents do not fully understand the concepts their child should have learned. By monitoring your fifth grader according to the specific reading components taught at their grade level you will receive a more accurate understanding of your child's progress.

When checking your child's reading skills it is important to measure their ability to comprehend what they have learned. Children have the ability to memorize words and string them together into sentences and paragraphs without fully understanding what they've read. In the fifth grade, students should learn how to determine and describe the author's purpose for writing the text. This level of comprehension relies on an understanding of the reading beyond merely recognizing the words. It requires that the student find the 'larger picture' or meaning of the text. Your fifth grader should also be able to describe how a writer's perspective will influence the text's meaning and purpose.

In the fifth grade, the vocabulary skills your child has been building will serve as the foundation for working with figurative language forms like similes, metaphors, idioms, and personification. By the end of the year your child should be able to determine meaning of figures of speech when he reads them in a text. At this level, a child moves beyond stringing together words into connecting meanings.

Literary analysis becomes important in fifth grade. Students are required to look into a text to find the general and personal meanings. In grade five students learn about the components of a plot including main events, conflict, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. By the end of this grade they should be proficient in mapping or recording these parts of a story. Fifth graders should also understand and be able to identify themes in a given text. Other literary skills your student will acquire in grade five include the ability to distinguish between major and minor characters, understanding the purposes of a text, and to determine how a character's traits influence their actions as well as the story as a whole.

By the fifth grade, elementary students are also exposed to a wide array of literature. Fifth graders should be familiar with various genres of fiction, poetry and non-fiction. While reading a text, the student should be able to categorize the piece under a specific genre based on its characteristics and the format of the writing. It is at this age that technical and business writing is introduced into the classroom. Students will learn about these styles and their functions in the workforce.

Monitoring a fifth grader's reading skills is a big job. Even if you work with your child on their homework each day you may not know how to assess their skills and progress. Many states now require standardized testing at the end of every academic year. These tests assess a child's progress in comparison with state educational standards. Not all states administer these tests and in states that do, poor performance on the test can result in your child being left back. You should monitor your student's progress well before the end of the school year in order to provide him with adequate preparation.

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