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Encourage Reading at Home   School Success Ideas for Parents

Some Simple Ways
to Help Your Elementary Child Learn to Read

Prepared by the Curriculum and Instruction Team at FCRR
Marcia Grek, Ph.D.
Carol Robinson, Ph.D.
Mary Van Sciver, M.S.
Michelle Wahl, M.S.

We have listed below some general suggestions for things that parents can do to help support the reading growth of their children. These are general suggestions, meant to be useful for almost any child, and there may be other things your child's teacher will want you to do that are focused on the specific needs of your child. All of these suggestions come from research on the way children learn to read. If you do some of them regularly in a motivating and supportive way, they will help your child make faster progress in learning to read. Many of these activities, such as those that build vocabulary and teach children to think while they read, will also help your child ultimately be a much better reader than he or she might otherwise become.

Kindergarten

1. Create a special workspace and schedule daily quiet time for your child to do his/her homework from school. Be sure this is a time you are available to help if needed.

2. Schedule 15 minutes of special time everyday to read to your child. Before you read each book, read the title and look at the cover and pictures inside. Ask your child what she thinks the book may be about (prediction). After reading the book, review her prediction. Was the prediction right? If not, what happened instead?

3. Plan to go to the school library, public library, or the local bookstore once each week and read a new book together. After reading each book, talk to him about what happened at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the story.

4. Play rhyming games. Say two words that rhyme (e.g. cat, sat) and ask your child to say a word that rhymes with your words. Take turns. Ask your child to say a word and then you respond with a rhyming word. For example, child says "cat", parent says "hat"; child says "chair", parent says "pair".

5. Take turns thinking of two words that begin with the same sound. Examples: mom, moon; dog, door; fun, fast; paper, pet.

6. Play the ?say it fast? game. Say a word, one sound at a time and have your child say the word at a normal rate. For example, you say each sound in the word cat, ?/c/ /a/ /t/.? Then your child says the word at the normal speed, ?cat.? Play this game with about five to ten short words (e.g. am, is, it, in, on, sit, pan, sun, top, net, fin) each day.

7. Take every opportunity you can to help increase your child?s vocabulary. You can do this by pointing to things and asking the child to tell you what they are, or you can stop and explain the meaning of any words in your reading that the child may not understand. The more you talk to your child, the faster their vocabulary will grow.

First Grade

1. Create a special workspace and schedule daily quiet time for your child to do his/her homework from school. Be sure this is a time you are available to help if needed.

2. Schedule 15 minutes of special time everyday to read with your child. Take turns reading a page at a time. Or, read a sentence and then have your child reread that same sentence until you read through the whole book.

3. Plan to go to the school library, public library, or the local bookstore once each week and read a new book together. After each story is read, ask her to retell the story to you. Go back to the story to reread sections if she needs help retelling the story in sequence.

4. Play the ?say the word slowly? game. Say a word at normal rate and then have your child say that same word slowly, one sound at a time. For example, say the word, ?mat.? Then your child will say that same word slowly, one sound at a time, ?/m/ /a/ /t/.? Play this game using about five to ten short words each day.

5. Fold a piece of paper into three parts. Let your child draw a picture of something he did in sequence. Then help your child write one sentence under each picture explaining what he did first, next and last.

6. Take turns thinking of two words that end with the same sound. Examples: mom, some; dog, rug; fun, ran; paper, feather.

7. Take every opportunity you can to help increase your child?s vocabulary. You can do this by pointing to things and asking the child to tell you what they are, or you can stop and explain the meaning of any words in your reading that the child may not understand. The more you talk to your child, the faster their vocabulary will grow.

Second Grade

1. Create a special workspace and schedule daily quiet time for your child to do his/her homework from school. Be sure this is a time you are available to help if needed.

2. Schedule 15 minutes of special time everyday to listen to your child read.

3. Go to the school library, public library, or to the local bookstore once each week and read a new book together. Read the title then look at the cover and pictures inside. Ask your child to predict what the book is about. After reading the book, review prediction then ask about the characters, setting, problem and solution.

4. Fact or Opinion Game: The parent says a sentence to the child then asks whether it is a fact or opinion. Ex: The weather is nice. (Opinion) A dog can bark. (Fact)

5. Encourage reading fluency by having your child read and reread familiar books. It can also be helpful to have your child read a short passage over several times while you record the time it takes. Children often enjoy seeing if they can improve their time from one reading to the next, and the repeated reading helps to establish a habit of fluent reading.

6. Pick out a new vocabulary word from one of the books you are reading with your child. Talk about what it means then make up a sentence with the new word. Try to use the word again that week.

Third Grade

1. Create a special workspace and schedule daily quiet time for your child to do his/her homework from school. Be sure this is a time you are available to help if needed.

2. Schedule 15 minutes of special time everyday to listen to your child read.

3. Go to the school library, public library, or to the local bookstore once each week and read a new book together. After you read each book, ask your child what the main character did or felt like at the end of the story. Ask if he/she has ever felt like the main character in the book. Why or why not?

4. Encourage reading fluency by having your child read and reread familiar books. It can also be helpful to have your child read a short passage over several times while you record the time it takes. Children often enjoy seeing if they can improve their time from one reading to the next, and the repeated reading helps to establish a habit of fluent reading.

5. Highlight or underline words that you can sound out from the day's "junk mail." Ask your child to read these words.

6. Make a simple recipe with him, allowing him to read each direction to you step by step so you'll "know what to do."

Fourth Grade

1. Create a special workspace and schedule daily quiet time for your child to do his/her homework from school. Be sure this is a time you are available to help if needed.

2. Schedule 15 minutes of special time everyday to listen to your child read.

3. Go to the school library, public library, or to the local bookstore once each week and read a new book together. After you read each book, talk about how it is similar to other books you have read together.

4. Encourage reading fluency by having your child read and reread familiar books. It can also be helpful to have your child read a short passage over several times while you record the time it takes. Children often enjoy seeing if they can improve their time from one reading to the next, and the repeated reading helps to establish a habit of fluent reading.

5. Have him read a book to a younger sibling (or even to a pet), perhaps playing "teacher" and asking the brother or sister good questions as he reads.

6. Have your child tell you a new word he has learned every single day. This word could be from a book he is reading, something you or the teacher said, or even a conversation that he heard at school. Talk about what it means then make up a sentence with the new word. If needed, use the dictionary to figure out what the word means. Play a game where each of you have to use the word in a sentence at least twice that day. Try to use the word again that week. Maybe add the words to a ?my new vocabulary word list? and post it on the refrigerator.