21 Oct

You want your child to succeed. Since reading is a foundational tool for success in life, mastering the basic skills is really important. In our competitive world, only about a third of America’s children are reading at a proficient level. It’s more important than ever for you to know how to teach reading at home.

If you are unsure how well your child reads, have your child select a few books he or she is interested in reading. Start with oral reading, to determine which books are at an independent or instructional level. Use the “five finger technique” if you are unsure. When a word is unknown, your child puts a finger down on the page. By five, pick an easier book to avoid teaching at the frustration level.

To determine the instructional level, reading orally, there are only one or two errors out of twenty words and correct comprehension of three out of four questions asked about the material.

If you notice words being added, left out or substituted with another word, go back and reteach the mini-lessons in Reading Champs. Take notes looking for patterns of errors. For example, when I started tutoring a third grader this week, it was obvious compound words were missed, diphthongs (ou, ow) were a struggle and the student made careless spelling errors.

Pay close attention to the patterns of errors. To make sure your child is not simply word calling, stop several times to summarize after you have made a prediction about what the reading is about. Use my PWR strategy. Predict, write your guess, and then read to find out if you’re right.

Watch your child read. Notice how many times his or her eyes stop along a line of print. The more eye stops on a line of print, the slower the reading. Then understanding is lost. Encourage reading in phrases, using punctuation properly. Often children miss periods and commas, etc. I tell them to think of the period as a stop sign, the comma as a pause, the exclamation mark as a “wow” and the question mark as a “huh.” Read together out loud to model the correct phrasing and read with a lot of expression.

During each teaching session turn off cell phones and other distractions. Have water available, maybe a snack and lots of interesting reading materials. Chart daily reading- what you did, what’s next. Lesson plan formats and directed activities are in my book. Please use them!

Be sure to read together at least 20 minutes a day at a pleasure reading level. This is not instructional time.

Here are several ideas to boost reading confidence.

  1. Vocabulary and comprehension go hand in hand. Connect new learning with prior knowledge. In non-fiction, organize the learning, noting main ideas and details.
  2. If your child reads in a choppy way, practice re-readings to boost fluency and promote smooth reading.
  3. Model a variety of reading using the internet, textbooks, library or pleasure books, magazines, newspapers, etc. Have a “recreational reading attitude” and set a reading goal for every member of the family.

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