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Information for Teachers and Parents...

Helping Your Children at Home with Reading

To help your child at home with reading, check with your family doctor, school nurse, or health counselor to make sure he hears and sees correctly. It's important to make sure the primary organs for reading are healthy.If you, the parent, feel pressured and anxious about your child's reading, he'll feel it, too. If learning to read becomes a daily chore and punishment and nothing more than a mechanical activity that involves correctly pronouncing words, you'll quickly turn your child off to reading.Let your child know that you treasure learning–and that you enjoy it. Let him see you with a book or magazine in your hands. You are your child's closest "model." If reading has value for you, it will undoubtedly have value for him, too.Here are some suggestions that parents have found to be of great assistance:

Read to your child every day. You know what he likes, his hobbies, his interests. Find books that describe these and use them. Reading to children allows them to develop their imaginations, an important but often overlooked aspect of reading.

Read with your child. If he has a reader from school or from the library, sit next to him, and both of you read aloud. Use your finger as a guide, pointing under each word as both of you read it together. About 10 minutes of this a day is adequate.

Talk with your child. Ask him about things that happened at school or on a Saturday afternoon. Let him know that words describe and take the place of doing.

If you see something interesting in the newspaper, particularly with a photograph, talk about it in such a way that your child might want to look at it and try to read some of the words himself–and perhaps ask, "What's this word?"

Comic strips give children an understanding that a series of events are sequentially occuring. For younger children, those from the Sunday papers can be clipped apart so that your child can rearrange them into their correct sequence.

Leave messages for your child–simple ones that you think he can figure out. "Went next door. Be right back."

Concentration is a game children like–if it doesn't become too challenging. Select words that are confusing for your child. Make flash cards. Start with two or three words. First make sure he can pronounce each one. Then turn them over. Point to one word. Can your child name it before he turns it over? If he gets all three, try four (the same three plus a new one) next time.

Many younger children are confused with words and letters because they really don't know left and right on their own body. There are dozens of games that can be made up to develop left and right understanding: twirl your right hand; hop on your left foot; toss the ball with your left hand–now your right; turn to your left, et cetera. Care must be taken with these activities. If you go too fast and expect your child to learn left and right in one day, he'll be frustrated, and, like many children, will depend on which arm he wears his watch.

Catalogs, want ads, grocery lists–all provide ways for children to get practice in practical reading. Have them available so your child can use them to find out what things cost, and how to get them.

Cooking and building things. Both require following a sequence of directions. Let your child decide on baking cookies or building a birdhouse–and then be available to assist–not do it for him.

Games that require the use of rhyming words are an excellent way to develop some of the auditory skills necessary for reading. Play short "word games" in which you see whether you or your child can make a series of rhyming words (sense or nonsense) based on a starting word. (Sticking with one syllable words makes it far less complicated.)

A simple game that many primary teachers use is one that can easily be played in the home. To develop a sight-recognition vocabulary, that is, words that occur frequently in many things your child will be reading (or difficult words that confuse him) 3 x 5 index cards. You may have to trim them a bit. Print word to a card. Attach a paper clip to one end. Then use a stick, perhaps two feet long, attach a string, and at the dangling end, tie on a small magnet. Have your child "fish" for words. As he pulls out a word, give him a point for each one he correctly pronounces. (It is best to start with just a few in the "pond" and gradually add more as he acquires competency.)

Codes. All children seem to love decoding secret messages. Librarians can direct you to books on simple codes for children, or you and your child can make up your own codes. You can then write secret messages to each other.

Learning just one new word a day can be a major task for many youngsters. When words are confusing (such as "went" and "want" or "this" and "that") try making several flash cards of the same word and posting them in several key spots around the house. The refrigerator door, the door to the bathroom, the mirror in the bathroom, for example, all make perfect places for repeated visual exposure–and verbalization of the word.

Write short stories with your child about things he has done that are exciting. Perhaps you have a photograph album. Take out some "action" shots and have him make a scrapbook of his very own. Paste a photograph on each page and write, or have him write, a story describing what happened when the photograph was taken.

Charts and graphs, placed in easy access, often serve to motivate children who are reluctant readers. A graph showing the number of words recognized, week by week, or pages read or sounds known can be attractive rewards unto themselves.



See Also:Helping Your Children at Home with Arithmetic
Helping Your Children at Home with Spelling
Helping Your Children at Home with Handwriting
Helping Your Children at Home with Vocabulary
Helping Your Children at Home with Geography

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