9th grade English Language Arts tips: Here's how to help your student

Here's how you can help your ninth-grader with English Language Arts outside of the classroom.

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By Aisha Labi

Hoping to help your ninth-grader with reading and writing skills? Here are some basic tips that experts suggest.

Keep a consistent routine

Now that your child is in high school, their academic success will have more bearing than ever on their future. As their social and extracurricular schedule gets busier, it’s important to keep them focused on their schoolwork and to make sure that they have an effective and consistent homework routine.

Encourage reading and discussion

Continue to encourage your child to read as much as possible. Make sure they are staying on top of their assigned reading and also that they have enough down time for leisure reading. Consider choosing books or even long magazine articles to read together that you can then discuss and debate. Talk to them about things you’re reading and find interesting, and prompt them to do the same.

Share your struggles

Reading classic literature, such as Shakespeare, can be intimidating. As your child reads books read when you were their age, tell their about your struggles and success with the same texts. Just knowing that you also went through a similar experience could provide some needed encouragement for them.

Use technology to build vocabulary

As your child progresses through high school, specialized vocabulary becomes increasingly important in many of their classes. If your child uses a smartphone or iPad, help them locate apps that focus on vocabulary development for specific subjects. There are many versions of digital flashcards that can help your child expand their vocabulary.

Discuss the news

Help your child become a more discerning consumer of news and information. Have an ongoing discussion with them about how you get your news and how you decide which sources to trust. Point out examples of misleading information you see, such as in ads, so that your child learns to be skeptical of some sources. Have them look for corrections in the local newspaper so that your child sees examples of how news can be misreported. Bookmark some Internet sites that you consider reliable and that they can use as reference or information sources.

Ask about school

Depending on how moody your adolescent is, it could be more difficult than ever to have extended conversations with them. But continue to ask them regularly about what is going on at school, how they are doing in class, what they are struggling with, and which subjects they are enjoying.

Discuss career possibilities

As your child starts to think about future study concentrations and even career possibilities, use your discussion of the subjects that interest them to steer those conversations. Help them start thinking about the expertise that different careers require. What do lawyers need to study? What about doctors or engineers? Suggest family friends or relatives in various professions that your child can talk to for advice and guidance.

Suggest making a video

Encourage your high schooler to make their own videos. They could make a public-service announcement for an issue they care about, such as a concern about the environment, a particular product, or a community issue. your child can start by brainstorming what they want to talk about and doing some research. Next, they can learn how public service announcements are structured by watching some online. You can help by talking through with them what they notice about effective PSAs. Finally, your child can write the script for their PSA, film it, and upload the finished video online!

Encourage longer writing projects

The long days of summer are perfect for teen writers to take on bigger projects. Challenge your high schooler to uncover the stories of relatives, neighbors, or friends and to turn those stories into a published history project. For example, your teen might investigate who has lived in the neighborhood the longest, how the street has changed, or what happened when relatives moved to their current home. Start by helping them develop a list of questions. They can then interview these relatives and neighbors to find out some interesting facts and stories and write up the findings as a narrative, a poem, or even in question/answer format. Finally, they can illustrate or take photographs to make the history come alive!

Include writing in your family traditions

Help your child be a part of your family holiday traditions and include writing at the same time. Have them interview elderly family members or friends about their traditions in celebrating the holidays. They can then turn the information from these interviews into several kinds of writing, from photos with captions to illustrated stories to poems. These writings could turn into a special and much-valued gift to the family member or friend.

Play word games

Word games are a great way to get your children to see the magic of language. Playing with words can be the beginning of good writing. Here’s one idea to try with your high schooler: Together create six-word memoirs that capture a moment in their lives. For example, if your teen has just finished their first day of school, your child might write, “New universe, old self, what now?” If they are dreading a hard test, you might write, “Killer test awaits. Three more hours.”

Encourage reading about famous scientists and inventors

Encourage your child to read biographies of famous inventors, scientists, or computer experts, like Steve Jobs or Albert Einstein.

To find out what your ninth-grader will be learning in English Language Arts class, check out our ninth grade English Language Arts skills page.

Parent Toolkit resources were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts, including Joyce Epstein, Director, Center on School, Family and Community Partnerships, Johns Hopkins University; Pamela Mason, Program Director/Lecturer on Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Barbara Stripling, Senior Associate Dean, Syracuse University; and Cathy Fleischer, Professor, Eastern Michigan University, and align with the Common Core State Standards.