Common Core Standards: “Audience, task, purpose and discipline”

Whether or not the common core standards are here to stay is a conversation for another time. That being said, it’s crucial that you and your children prepare accordingly so that they don’t fall behind. In addition to an Orange County private academic tutor, staying up-to-date on the latest news and insights is always a good idea.


One of the general understandings of the California state common core standards (READ: Reaching for the Common Core Standards at an Early Age) is for students to fully comprehend and incorporate their audience, purpose, discipline and task. So what does all this mean?

Let’s break it down one section at a time.


The Standards state that a student should be able to “appreciate nuances, such as how the composition of an audience should affect tone when speaking”. First of all, what is a nuance? A nuance is a subtlety or hint of something. Nuances are often used in literature to describe a character in a way that is interesting to the audience but does not give direct information. For example, if an author talks about a character as ‘sitting at the window looking at the rain and knowing that there would be no possibility of running through the emerald green grass today’. We can guess that this particular character is sad about the rain and enjoys sunny days spent outside. Also, this is much more interesting to read than ‘he was sad because it was raining and he wanted to go play outside’.

Students should not only be able to understand nuances written and communicated by other people but also offer them themselves. Where might this skill come in handy? When communicating with colleagues it might be much more effective to get across feelings about other people or situations using nuances. For example, ‘that was a bit of a complicated situation with some special customer service requirements’ will likely go over a lot better than to state directly ‘That meeting was awful and that customer is rude’.

So how can you help your child master this skill at an early age?

I recommend: Participate in character analysis and read literature with varying character analysis. Students should start learning the difference between direct statements and mild subtleties. Your child can copy direct statements from books and rewrite them in a more subtle manner or vise versa. Constructive socialization is also a key element to subtlety. Spending time with peers outside one’s close friendships (people and personalities whom they don’t already know the nuances of) can be a great way to help hone this skill in all subjects. (Need an Irvine private English tutor? We’ve got you covered)



Students should understand the purpose of all relevant forms of communication and language. For example, they should be able to answer these questions for themselves: What am I/are they trying to communicate, who am I/are they trying to communicate to, when is the appropriate time to communicate, where/what situation is the communication appropriate or inappropriate, and (most importantly) why is this communication important?

I recommend: Encourage your child to ask “why”? They don’t need to ask about small details or decisions you make but they should be able to ask why something is the way it is. Fiction, non-fiction and current events appropriate to your child’s age are great ways to inspire your kids to ask “why”?


Students should be capable of understanding the difference between varying disciplines. The examples used on the California State Common Core Standards website are a great illustration. History requires documentation and science requires evidence. What else can we use as an example? Philosophy requires thinking, art requires color theory, and current events require up-to-date knowledge.

I recommend: Create a suitable science experiment over the summer with your kid that is appropriate for their age. One of my all time favorites is to collect water samples and determine the PH balance of different types of water using litmus paper. This project requires hands-on work, field work, organization, problem solving, deductive logic and real world knowledge. Plus it’s an educational way to spend some time together.


Students should be able to understand what specifically needs to be done to complete a certain task. If the assignment is to complete a paper about a chapter in their history textbook, then they should be able to figure out what exactly needs to be done. For example, they will need to determine what the directions in the assignment state and mean, they should be able to ask for help if necessary, they should know to read the chapter thoroughly, be able to underline or highlight important sections, they should be able to organize their thoughts to successfully answer the questions in the assignment etc…

I recommend: There is not one specific project that can help develop this skill as it is integrated into everyday work. I recommend checking your child’s homework to see if they are on task. A homework help or study skills tutor is also a great help when it comes to evolving this important skill.

All of these abilities are important on their own but they often also come together in multidisciplinary tasks, which become more prevalent during the college years and beyond. Starting early is the key.

Quotes and some supporting details taken from the California State Common Core Standards

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