Suggestions on how to help your child improve their reading comprehension:
A love of reading doesn't happen automatically. It needs to be nurtured and guided until it flourishes.
1. Determine your child’s “Just Right” Reading Level
2. Research indicates, “Fluency develops as a result of many opportunities to practice reading with a high degree of success.” Meaning, a child becomes a better reader by regularly reading books that are at their appropriate level. In my classroom, I call this their “Just Right” Reading Level.
3. Go to a local library or bookstore and find books at that “Just Right” level. Here are two great online tools that tell you what reading level a book is: Scholastic Book Wizard and AR.
On the scholastic site, you can also find lists of books at a particular level and order them straight from scholastic (or note the titles and order from Amazon).
4. When children see the people they respect and admire reading, it illustrates the importance and value of reading. Children who never see their parents with a book in their hands are significantly less likely to read regularly.
5. After dinner, have the whole family sit down and read for 30 minutes. At my home we called it “Reading Circle Time!”
6. Then, share out what each of you have just read. For example, ask for a short summary: “So what has happened so far?” Summarizing is a very important comprehension skill. Here is an example of what this might look like on the first try:
“The title of my book is_________________, written by______________________and illustrated by________________________. It takes place in________________________. The main characters so far are_______________________________. Right now the problem in the story is that____________________________________________. “
6. Next, discuss the readings, asking questions about the characters, themes, and what you can infer from the actions of the characters. In this way, you will really be able to determine if your child understands what they read. Ask questions like, “What do you think will happen next?” or “Why do you think that happened?” or “Why did they say that?” etc. Questioning gets children thinking about what they are reading, improving comprehension.
7. Read with your child: they will read one page ALOUD, and then you read one page ALOUD. At the end of 30 minutes discuss the reading as above.
8. Have your child keep an at home summary journal, (let them choose a fun notebook from the 99cent store!). After reading for 30 minutes, have them write about what they read for 10 minutes and then share their journal with you. They can even do an illustration of what they’ve read.
If the only thing you are able to accomplish is to get your child to enjoy reading, you have succeeded! That is the ultimate goal. A child who enjoys reading, reads more, and a child who reads more becomes a better reader and writer, as they are exposed to broad vocabulary, literary techniques, and develop critical thinking/comprehension skills.
Be sure not to push too hard, reading should be a pleasurable experience, if it isn’t your child is unlikely to read on his or her own.
Provide them with a plethora of options and allow him or her the freedom to choose what they’d like to read.
In college, a professor told a story that has stuck with me. A fellow professor had a daughter who loved Little House on the Prairie; she read the whole series through over and over. At first, he was very encouraging, and happy she was enjoying them, but as she finished the last book of the series for the 6th time and reached for the first book to start them all over again, he interceded. He said she wasn’t allowed to read the series again until she had read at least one other book. As a result, her ravenous reading ceased, and she rarely read for pleasure after that. She would have eventually moved on and tried another book, but she was obviously still enjoying and benefiting from that series. Strong restrictions on literary freedom can lead to unnecessary and adverse effects.
Tips for Parents about Writing Workshop:
1. When your child shows you his or her writing, focus on what your child is doing well. Writing is very personal and a child can be easily crushed. Celebrate with your child what is good about the writing.
2. Help to encourage the enthusiasm your child has for writing. Your child’s energy for writing should increase after talking with you, not decrease.
3. Don’t panic over misspelled words. A child’s speaking vocabulary is greater than written vocabulary. If a child only used words he/she knows how to spell, the writing would be very dull and lifeless. The teacher works on spelling skills during the year. Watch to see if your child’s spelling improves as the year progresses. (Remember, even published work sometimes has spelling errors and that work has gone through much editing.)
4. Don’t stress if your child doesn’t use punctuation perfectly. Again, the teacher works on this during the year. Your child will progress in this area as well.
5. Show your child how you use writing in your life – making lists, writing letters, thank you notes, emails, notes to family members, etc.
6. Share stories from your life with your child. Your life stories are more interesting to your child than made up TV shows. . . REALLY!!!
7. When your child wants to tell you about an interesting thing that happened during the day, enjoy listening and encourage him or her to jot the event down in their journal. It might make a good piece of writing later.
8. Provide different kinds of paper, pencils, etc. for your child to write with at home. Have a home writing center.
9. Find reasons for your child to write – help with the grocery list, write thank you notes.
10. Read with your child.
Parent Tips for nurturing your growing readers:
1. Read with your children at least once every day.
2. Make sure they have plenty to read. Take them to the library regularly, and keep books and other reading materials in their reach.
3 Notice what interests your child, then help find books about those things.
4. Respect your child's choices. There's nothing wrong with series fiction if that's what keeps a young reader turning the pages.
5. Praise your children's efforts and newly acquired skills.