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Grade Eight – How to Help Your Child at Home

English Language Arts

  • Help your child understand the difference between struggle and frustration.
  • Discuss with your child what he or she is learning instead of what he or she is doing.


  • Encourage your child to write to relatives and friends who may live out of town.
  • Encourage journal writing as another way to record memorable family events – trips, holidays, weddings, birthdays, and other special occasions.
  • Share your own writing.
  • Encourage your child to read his or her papers aloud.
  • Respond to a community issue by taking a stand.
  • Encourage creative writing.
  • Ask to see your child’s writing folder whenever you visit his or her teacher.


  • Talk about what you and your child are reading.
  • Have books, magazines and newspapers available in the home.
  • Set aside some time each day for reading rather than watching television.
  • Encourage summer reading of high interest materials.
  • Take family visits to the public library.
  • Give your child books as gifts.
  • Use the Internet to research and read information of use to your family.


  • Discuss with your child the mathematics that he/she is learning.
  • Help your child see that the mathematics he is learning is very much a part of everyday life.
  • Listen to your child explain how he/she approaches and solves mathematical problems. Discuss with your child why (or why not) an answer to a mathematics problem is reasonable. Ask:
    • What do you already know about this problem?
    • Can you show me the method(s) you have used (so far) to complete the problem?
    • What have you discovered? How did you find that out?
    • Have you found another way that could be done?
    • Does your answer make sense to you? Why or why not?
    • What might be your next step(s)?
  • Use mistakes as a valuable part of learning.
  • Find opportunities to do mathematics every day. Work on puzzles and other engaging mathematics problems. Explore the mathematics in books and television shows that you read or view together.
  • Point out that all jobs require mathematical skills.
  • Discuss the mathematics found in the media (news articles, news reports, magazines).
  • Use computers and calculators, as well as pencil and paper, to solve problems.
  • Help your child review memorized facts.
  • Have a positive attitude toward mathematics.
  • Set high standards for your child in mathematics achievement.
  • For web resources, visit


  • Discuss with your child the science concept, question, or challenge that was studied in class that day
  • Ask your child what questions they have about the current topic/challenge they are pursuing. Discuss how they might pursue that question
  • Ask your child to explain how their learning today contributes to the overall question or challenge they are pursuing
  • Discuss with your child how their learning contributes to the community of student scientists and overall understanding within their classroom
  • Encourage your child to obtain and evaluate scientific information from multiple sources (print material, television, internet) in regards to recent developments in science and technology. Discuss these developments together
  • Encourage your child to explain scientific phenomena or ideas to family members or friends
  • Ask your child to evaluate or explain the effectiveness of a proposed solution to a problem. How would they revise or improve the suggested method?
  • Discuss data or information and how it may be analyzed to derive meaning and provide evidence
  • Have your child list and describe the positive and negative effects human choices have on the environment. Brainstorm alternatives that may mitigate the negative impacts humans can have on the environment
  • Discuss energy choices with your child. What factors do you consider when choosing to fuel your home and/or vehicle and how might your family seek reliable, environmentally sound sources?
  • Participate in programs sponsored by local colleges, groups or government agencies to investigate physical science concepts
  • Visit local museums to study past and recent scientific discoveries. Discuss how this information has impacted human life

Social Studies

  • Ask your child what he or she is learning in social studies and
  • have conversations about the content.
  • Discuss current events with your child.
  • Encourage your child to critically examine the news and current events.
  • Watch the evening news with your child.
  • When you travel have your child follow your path on a map,
  • tablet or smart phone.
  • Take your child with you when you vote.
  • Visit local or regional historic sites and museums.
  • Give your child opportunities to volunteer or participate in
  • community improvement projects to instill the virtues of
  • citizenship and the common good.


  • Set aside an area for artwork to be made, finished for exhibition and displayed.
  • Provide a sketchbook to record and plan artwork, and a variety of materials and tools for your child to use in:
    • drawing, which can be used to make observational studies of people and objects, such as various graphite pencils, fine point water-based markers and charcoal pencils.
    • painting, which can be used to show details and mood, such as colored pencils and water-based markers, tempera, watercolor and fine-point brushes.
    • printmaking to depict mood and depth, such as linoleum or wood and appropriate carving tools, water-based inks and a variety of papers.
    • sculpture, which move or performs a function such as soft woods and metals, the tools to shape them with, and the hardware for assembly.
    • crafts, which compare everyday objects from American culture to the culture of others, such as paper, wire and wood.
  • Emphasize observation as a means for recording images in drawing, painting, and sculpture, including portraits of family and friends.
  • Make available a variety of resources from which to gather ideas for making artwork such as family photos, objects for still-life, art magazines and the fliers or newsletters published by museums and galleries.
  • Continue to promote the use of artful activities to make family
  • events special.
  • Visit galleries and museums to discuss the plans, subject matter, processes and techniques used by master artists, and the ways they reflect the period in which they worked.
  • Share the public library with your child as a source for books which picture master artworks, the preliminary sketches and series of works of a particular subject or place done by artists, and also describe the lives and working methods of artists.

CTE Careers

  • Help your teen practice job search skills including resume writing and interviewing for a part time job or community service.
  • Discuss your teen’s developing career interests and help him/her relate those interests to high school courses, clubs and after school activities, and volunteer work.


  • Help your child set realistic goals.
  • Create a list of support people to help family members deal with health issues such as stress and depression.
  • Clearly state your attitudes about tobacco, alcohol and other drug use.
  • Discuss the consequences of the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.
  • Practice decision-making skills with your child by identifying options, choosing the best alternative and considering consequences for decisions.
  • Develop with your child a list of strategies for peacefully resolving conflicts.
  • Monitor your child’s use of the Internet.
  • Role-play situations where your child can practice refusing to become involved in risky situations.
  • Use events on television, in the newspaper and in books to elicit conversations on topics related to safety and injury prevention.
  • Discuss family guidelines for dating.
  • Discuss family values regarding sexual behavior.
  • Use events on television, in the newspaper and in books to elicit conversations on topics related to human sexuality.

Instructional Technology

  • Discuss the use and impact of technology in everyday life such as: computers, smartphones, tablets, wearable technology, virtual/augmented reality, smart robots, email communication, and social media.
  • Help your child use software programs and apps that are appropriate for Grade 8 such as Canvas, Microsoft Office, Common Sense Best Apps for Kids, Google Apps For Education and other HCPSS authorized digital tools,
  • Encourage your child to use digital tools in a productive way to produce, enhance or create something new, instead of passively consuming digital content.
  • Encourage your child to use technology as a research tool for homework and projects when appropriate. Electronic databases that HCPSS subscribes to are found in MackinVia.
  • Encourage your child to build automaticity with touch typing or keyboarding using free online tools such as:
    • – This free online problem features engaging exercises, interactive typing games, and positive reinforcement, is appropriate for all age ranges and skill levels. You do not need to create an account but if you do, you can save your progress with a registered account.

Frequently Used Digital Tools

Digital Citizenship

As technology continues to expand the concept of digital citizenship has become even more important in our schools. Digital Citizenship has the same tenets as being good citizens: be kind, be respectful, and do the right thing. Throughout their middle school years, students will engage in learning activities that help build a positive digital footprint and teach digital citizenship skills in all areas of the curriculum. Social media becomes a regular form of communication and a part of the culture of their school experience. At home it is important for parents to continue to promote the appropriate and respectful use of technology tools with their child. Cultivate an open dialogue and conversation with your child regarding social media and technology. Consider the following:

Library Media

  • Create an environment rich with books and other reading material, both literary and informational texts, in a variety of formats.
  • Be a role model; encourage reading for fun and as a free-time activity.
  • Read with your child every chance you get–even if it is just part of a news article at the breakfast table.
  • Discuss ideas in books you and your child read.
  • Practice using the Big6 model for problem-solving in everyday life situations.
  • Help your child to get started with research projects or other assignments.
  • Encourage your child to utilize online databases and other resources provided by HCPSS. (Career Puppy, CultureGrams, Science in Context, SIRS, Student Resources in Context, World Book Online). Check with the library media specialist at your school for access information.
  • Obtain a library card for your child, and utilize the library as a resource for information and materials for enjoyment.
  • Encourage your child to participate in age-appropriate activities sponsored by the public library.
  • Encourage your child to utilize online homework help available via the Howard County Library website.


  • Encourage your child to listen with you to music of all styles, and provide opportunities to hear musical performances live, when possible.
  • Discuss with your child music heard on radio, television or in live performances, using descriptive words to express preferences.
  • Urge your child to elect instrumental or choral music in school and to take private lessons on an instrument.
  • Provide opportunities for your child to participate in outside musical groups and enrichment opportunities during the school year and summer.
  • Provide a variety of musical materials and tools for your child’s use: compact discs, music computer software, books and periodicals about music and musicians and musical instruments.
  • Encourage your child to follow up on special interests by researching artists, composers, and styles of music through the use of the Internet, library books, encyclopedias, and current music periodicals.
  • Provide opportunities to explore music of various cultures through local festivals and concerts or while traveling.
  • Share music of your own culture with your child and his or her classmates.
  • Encourage your child to experiment, improvise, or compose, using a computer, musical instrument, or their voice in the home.
  • Share a variety of concert experiences with your child and discuss the selection of music and the effectiveness of the performances.
  • Convey to your child the value you place on music as an integral part of the core school curriculum and a body of studies which contribute to academic success and a rich quality of life.

Physical Education

  • Encourage your child to participate in at least three different physical activities, dance or outdoor pursuits sponsored by an organized group or at least informally with peers.
  • Play catch with your child while they are running, changing directions and speeds.
  • Encourage your child to dribble an object with his/her dominant and non-dominant hands and feet.
  • Encourage your child to watch athletic contests that display offensive and defensive tactics and transition from offense to defense or defense to offense quickly (basketball, lacrosse, soccer, field hockey).
  • Ask your child to explain how to perform an activity that he/she does well and you would like to try.
  • Ask your child to assess your health-related fitness condition. You can take the health-related fitness test and your child will assess your performance.
  • Develop a physical activity plan with your family.
  • Discuss the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship with your child.

School Counseling

  • Designate an area in your home for your child to complete homework.
  • Review daily and long-term assignments with your child.
  • Encourage your child to participate fully in the middle school experience by participating in special programs and extracurricular activities.
  • Praise your child for effort and achievement.
  • Expose your child to career options by discussing careers of family members and friends.
  • Demonstrate how to effectively share feelings.
  • Encourage decision-making skills by offering your child choices, when possible and modeling decision making skills.
  • Talk with your student about the resources your school counselor can provide and situations in which the counselor might be able to provide support.
  • Encourage your student to have a positive relationship with his/her school counselor.

Technology Education

  • Take your child to museums that focus on or have areas related to technology.
  • Provide an area where your child can create and experiment with different designs to problem-solving activities.
  • Encourage your child to create procedural outlines for solving a problem.
  • Point out different forms of technology used in everyday life.

World Languages

  • Encourage your child to practice the new language at home.
  • Have your child teach you or siblings words and phrases in the new language.
  • Encourage your child to communicate with a child from another culture as a penpal.
  • Visit galleries and museums that feature art or artifacts from other cultures.
  • Encourage your child to practice the new language with native speakers of that language in restaurants, department stores and shops.
  • Share travel brochures, videos and travel guides that feature the target culture with your child.
  • Ask your child to share the French or Spanish names of ordinary objects, professionals, actions, family members, animals and foods with you and siblings.
  • Share your own experiences with the target language and target culture with your child.
  • Ask your child to interpret words or phrases from the target language encountered.
  • Make a real or virtual visit to a country where target language is spoken.
  • Provide opportunities for your child to perform in target language for family members or neighbors.
  • Encourage your child to practice numbers, days of the week, months, seasons, colors, clothing, geographic names, family names, occupations and foods in the target language for pronunciation practice.
  • Provide opportunities for your child to listen to age-appropriate music and to watch age-appropriate films from the target culture.