Do you want to learn how to reinforce what your child is learning at school? Many parents ask me for activities and strategies to try with their children at home. As a Marine Corps spouse and elementary educator, I love spreading my wealth of knowledge to friends and neighbors. Today I’d like to share that knowledge with you! In this blog, we will focus on reading strategies to use at home to help your child get ready for reading.
Written by Kelley Siclari
Reading at Home
Reading is one of the most important areas in education. It is the foundation for many other subjects in school. I often tell parents that reading should start at a young age. Prior to starting kindergarten, parents should be reading to their children daily. Children love listening to their parents’ voices and fantasizing about the characters in the books they hear. It is good to aim to read to your child for 10 to 15 minutes a day depending on their age and attention span. If you are trying to read with a younger child, you can always choose quick little books and space them out throughout their day. That way they don’t have to sit for a long period of time. When they are listening to you read, be sure to ask them questions about what is happening in the book. Reading with younger children can be so much fun! You can make it more engaging by using silly voices for the characters and/or acting out parts of their favorite books.
Another activity to do with preschool-aged children is to sing nursery rhymes and songs. Hearing these rhyming words helps get their brains ready to learn how to read. I also tell parents to reread their children’s favorite stories. Believe it or not, repetition helps with reading fluency. So while it may be annoying to read The Little Blue Truck for the hundredth time, your children are benefiting from hearing that repetition.
Taking a “Picture Walk” and other Reading Strategies
During the early elementary years (grades k-2), children are learning to read. They are learning to identify letters, the sounds they make and how to blend those sounds to read words. They are also working on being able to retell what they just read. I recommend reading about 15 to 20 minutes a day with children at this age. Sometimes the books they bring home will be shorter, so that gives you time to read a book to them as well. I like to get books from the library based on my child’s reading levels. Here is a great website that helps parents find books on their child’s reading levels. I try to read the book before I read it with my child, so I determine new or tricky words in the story. Then I take a “picture walk” with my children to point out the new and/or tricky words and talk about what is happening on each page. I love to not show them the end of the book and ask them to predict what they think will happen to the characters at the end of the story. When your child is finished reading the book, have them retell what happened in the story or ask them questions based on what happened in the book. If you can, ask them to make a connection to what they have experienced and how the main character may have experienced the same thing. When children can relate to the characters in the book, it helps them understand the story better.
Reading Strategies for Older Children
In the upper elementary grades (3-5), the focus in reading shifts from learning to read to reading to learn. So for example, students in these grades are reading more complex stories and learning from what they have read. For children at this age, try to find a book series or genre that they love. I have found my children love to read a book series because they get to know the main characters and like finding out what will happen next to the characters. It is important to ask questions while you are reading as well. I like to ask my children questions at the end of each chapter to check for understanding. Children at this age may be more independent than younger children. Encourage your child to read independently and then check in with them as needed. I ask my daughter to read for about 25 to 30 minutes a night at this age. I also encourage her to read more by reading books myself. I have found my children are more motivated if they know their parents are also reading.
Not sure of what questions to ask to test your child’s reading comprehension? Here is a great comprehension question guide you can use at home with your children.
No matter what strategies you adopt, taking a proactive approach and building family reading strategies will help you assess your child’s progress and build a solid foundation for your child as they continue their educational journey.
About the Author
Kelley Siclari has been a special ed teacher for over ten years. She has worked with students at both the elementary level and preschool level. She is a Marine Corps spouse and the mother of two wonderful children, one of whom has received special education services since the age of two for speech and language and occupational therapy. Kelley loves teaching and is passionate about educating parents on ways to support their children with special needs at home. Kelley is excited to be working with Partners in PROMISE’s writing team of experts so that she can advocate for students with disabilities as well as work with military families.