As a classroom teacher, one question that I was frequently asked by parents and guardians was, “How can I help my child become a reader?” In my experience as an educator, consultant, and adjunct professor, my thoughts have been continually evolving.
One of the most critical elements is reading quality literature to your children. When reading aloud to your child, select a book that is on a topic of interest (this could be informational), one that is a favorite or one that will lead to deeper conversation. Another key element is getting the child to think about the selection you are reading – noticing pictures, characters and details in the pictures. Ask questions like, “What do you notice?” and “What do you think is happening?” A child will often notice things that we don’t see! They can focus on the smallest details that will lead to a deeper understanding of the book. Let them talk about what they are noticing, then move into predicting and always confirming and adjusting the prediction as you continue reading. When you are finished, take time to talk about the book and find out if they have any questions. Learning to ask questions is a key part of becoming a reader and thinker.
Another aspect of helping your child become a reader is when the child transitions into wanting to be that reader. When the child is learning to read, help and support will need to be given when reading unknown words. The most effective support is when the reading partner sits down beside the child and “shares” the book. “What is this word?” is often asked. Do not immediately say “sound it out” because many of our words are not words that can be sounded out. For example, if the word is “give,” our phonics logic is the “i” should be a long sound because the “e” on the end is a signal for a long vowel sound. So many of our words are not words that can logically be sounded out; some words need to be told. A child needs to have many opportunities to read the word in “real” reading and not just in isolation.
Learning to read is something children are most often very excited to do. Some students face challenges and others will find it to be a very natural process. As a literacy partner, the key pieces are reading to them and also being present with them when they become the reader and need some additional support.
Our staff members throughout Thompson School District are dedicated to providing you with the support that is necessary to help all children learn to read and develop a lifelong love of books. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions you may have. Our team is eager to help!
Thompson School District Board of Education