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Searching for information and reporting on findings is a challenging task for students of all ages. Research asks the learner to make use of a number of skills. The process requires curiosity, commitment and patience from all parties involved …. including parents!

So, how can you help your child at home? Here are a few suggestions to make the research project a fun and rewarding educational experience.

1. Help your child to ask questions. Model the “I wonder” approach to inquiry. For example, if your child tells you that an emperor penguin has a white stomach and a black back, simply ask, ” Hmm. I wonder why?” (Bonus points if you discover the reason!!!!) Or, if your child informs you that Sir John A. Macdonald vowed to build a transcontinental railroad, strike a thoughtful pose and ask, “I wonder why that was so important to him?”

Essentially, you are asking your child to dig deeper. The more that you know should mean the more that you wonder!!

2. If you've found a book, magazine or website that was very helpful to the research assignment, cite the source. This is a skill that is never too early to introduce to students. We want our children to know that it is important to give credit where credit is due.

Here is a simple format to use to begin having students create a reference list for their project work.


Author Title/Website Publisher/Publication Date
Date Posted/Date Accessed
Fergus M. Bordewich Bound for Canaan Harper Collins 2005
Marchael Farber The Kid Comes Through For Canada Sports Illustrated March 8, 2010
Elva Adams Accessed March 20, 2010

Please note that it is sometimes very difficult to find the author of a particular site or article found on the web. It's just as hard to uncover when sites have been posted or last updated. Just do the best that you can and remember that if a piece of information is missing from the reference list then it does not mean the end of the world as we know it!!

What you'll hope to accomplish by helping your child cite their sources is that the task itself is relevant and important. They'll refine this skill as they mature and learn to adapt to any particulars that their teacher may require in later grades.

3. Spend lots of time reading around the text. A typical non-fiction book targeting a K-8 audience will include lots of photographs, captions, diagrams and charts. They aren't there “for the pretty”. The author has included these features to help share some important information. So, take the time to examine them thoroughly and talk about what you see with your child. Then read.

You'll discover that your child's reading will be more fluent and that they'll understand more. Why? Simply because you've helped them through a very important warm-up process that has introduced words, thoughts and ideas that helps prepare the reader to learn instead of asking a child to manage difficult text cold turkey .

4. Don't print pages and pages of information from the Internet for your child. While kids are quite impressed by the sheer quantity of what's been found for them, they rarely read much of it. Typically, the reading level is too difficult. This, coupled with the mountain of pages sitting before them, usually serves to intimidate and discourage the student from making much headway with what you've spent so much time finding for them.

Instead, help your child find a book or a website that will answer some of their questions. Read the material with (or to) them. Share the joy of what you've learned together. And remember to keep wondering!

Please drop by our library if you want to talk a bit more about any of these suggestions!

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