How to give kids the support they need to become competent readers who love reading
Listening & Learning
From kindergarten through third grade, kids’ ability to read grows by leaps and bounds. Although teachers provide lots of help, parents continue to play a role in their child’s reading life.
Kids who are first learning to read get more information from listening to books than from reading them independently. This is especially true of vocabulary— they’ll learn more about what words mean by hearing books read aloud and discussing words with parents than from reading on their own.
And even as your child’s reading skills improve, you should continue talking about characters or sharing reactions to books to reinforce the connection between books and everyday life.
Your Growing Reader
Kindergarten. This is the time when most kids begin learning to read. By the end of the school year they will probably know most letters and their sounds, match words by beginning or ending sounds, and read and write several simple words. They might be able to read simple text as well.
First grade. In this year, most kids learn to read many more words. They sound out words with a variety of phonics patterns, recognize a growing list of words by sight, and connect meaning to the words and sentences they read. By the end of the year most can read a simple book independently.Second and third grade. Kids continue to learn more phonics patterns and sight words for reading and spelling, use reading to learn new words, read aloud more expressively, and enjoy specific authors and types of books. You should see that reading is becoming more automatic and fluent by the end of second grade or the beginning of third grade.
If you have concerns about your child’s reading level at any time, talk to your child’s teacher, school counselor, and doctor. Kids who are not making good reading progress might have a vision problem or a reading disability, such as dyslexia. Catching problems early on is critical.
What to Read
As your child becomes a more confident reader, continue to introduce a wide range of books. When it comes to reading aloud, look for two types of books—those that could be read alone and those that are above your child’s current reading level. With this mix, your child can re-read some of these books independently, while you’ll have to do the reading (or at least help) with the challenging ones that allow your child to enjoy a more sophisticated story and learn new words.
Let your child’s interests lead the way when you are choosing books. Sports? Music? Dinosaurs? Look for books on topics you know are of interest and ones that relate to these things.
Introduce your childhood favorites too and talk about why you love them. Your child may be willing to read them in an effort to bond with you.
Talk about the books your child is reading independently and for school and about favorite topics and authors. If the author writes a series of books, encourage your child to read them all.
When and How to Read
The school-age child’s schedule can be a busy one. You may be having dinner on the go as you scoot from soccer practice to music lessons. But if you can find 30 minutes a day to read with your child, you will help ensure future reading success.
Use the same strategies you did when your child was younger—talk about what you read before, during, and after, asking open-ended questions that encourage your child’s involvement. Read expressively and with enjoyment.
But at this age, be sure to let your child read a book to you. To help with less familiar words, you can “practice” them in advance by having your child point to the words you say on a given page, or even in a specific line of text. Or you might choose to take turns reading.
If your child is reading and can’t sound out a word, encourage skipping it to read the rest of the sentence before deciding what word would make sense. As your child becomes a strong independent reader, you might allow some mistakes while reading, then ask questions to reveal them (“Do you think that word makes sense in this sentence?”). Be careful about correcting every error your child makes, as this may be frustrating. If your child seems discouraged or tired while reading, offer to take over.
If you’re reading a longer chapter book over time, here are some tips for maintaining your child’s interest:
•Save questions for the end so your child can simply enjoy the story, but before you begin the next chapter, talk a little bit about what happened in the previous one.
•Re-read lines your child found funny.
•Let your child read too (if he wants to).
•If a block of text is too challenging for your child, don’t be afraid to summarize or skip over it.
•Ask your child’s opinion about a character’s actions or decisions. What would she do in the same situation?
•Offer your own honest opinions about what you’ve read, and ask for the same from your child.
Courtesy of Nemours, kidshealth.com
Making Time to Read During SPRING & Summer Break
hen the lazy days of summer arrive and the schedule is packed with swimming, camp, and family vacations, it can be a challenge to find time for learning. But kids’ reading skills don’t have to grow cold once school’s out. Here are some ways to make reading a natural part of their summer fun:
Explore your library. Visit your local library to check out books and magazines that your kids haven’t seen before. Many libraries have summer reading programs, book clubs, and reading contests for even the youngest borrowers. With a new library card, a child will feel extra grown-up checking out books.
Read on the road. Going on a long car trip? Make sure the back seat is stocked with favorite reads. When you’re not at the wheel, read the books aloud. Get some audiobooks (many libraries have large selections) and listen to them together during drive time.
Make your own books. Pick one of your family’s favorite parts of summer—whether it’s baseball, ice cream, or the pool—and have your child draw pictures of it or cut out pictures from magazines and catalogs. Paste the pictures onto paper to make a booklet and write text for it. When you’re done, read the book together. Reread it whenever you need to fend off the cold-weather blahs!
Keep in touch. Kids don’t have to go away to write about summer vacation. Even if your family stays home, they can send postcards to tell friends and relatives about their adventures. Ask a relative to be your child’s pen pal and encourage them to write each week.
Keep up the reading rituals. Even if everything else changes during the summer, keep up the reading routines around your house. Read with your kids every day—whether it’s just before bedtime or under a shady tree on a lazy afternoon. And don’t forget to take a book to the beach!