Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Eleven Ways to Help Your Child Read Well

One of the worst things I ever heard a parent utter during a parent-teacher conference was, “I don’t have time to read with my kid. That’s your job.”

I was shocked. As a parent myself I was absolutely offended and told her so even though my principal was in the meeting as well.

As parents WE are the ones responsible for our child’s education. We cannot know our child’s abilities or lack of abilities if we do not involve ourselves.

If your child does not see that you hold education as a high priority why should they?

It’s very simple to involve yourself with your child’s reading. You don’t have to be a reading education expert. You don’t need to know what the research says. You simply need to take some time, sit down with your child, and READ!

1. Reading aloud to your child is probably the most important thing for a parent to do. Of course, most parents do this when children are very young. For some reason though, we stop reading at a certain age---usually by fourth or fifth grade. It has been my experience, though, that all children from grades K through 12 love read alouds. As my children got older we would read together. I would read aloud a page and then my child would. Reading aloud builds fluency. This helps in building comprehension which is the key to a good reader.

2. Ask your child to tell you about a book or a story he or she has read. Can they retell the story? Can they discuss the problem/solution in the story with ease?

3. Tell your child about your favorite books at their their age. If you weren’t a reader you can visit your local book store and read through some books that were around when you were younger. Juvenile fiction is enjoyable at any age.

4. Give books as a gift.

5. Listen to your child read.

6. Play games with your child.

7. Limit your child’s time with the television. It’s always amazing to me how my students can relate the plot of Desperate Housewives or any of various reality tv shows, but when a book report is due they tell me they haven’t had time to read. They’ve been busy. Yes, they have been busy---watching television.

8. Go to the library together---not just during the summer, but visit all year long.

9. Read and discuss your child’s schoolwork. Ask questions like, “Why did you answer the question this way? What were you thinking? Why did you color it this way?” Don’t forget to put the work on the fridge as well.

10. Subscribe to children’s magazines such as Kids Discover Magazine

11. Establish a family reading time. We do it at school all the time---it’s called “Drop Everything and Read”. Why couldn’t you do this at home for 20-30 minutes once a week?

Feel free to add other suggestions that have worked for you in the comments.

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