Friday, November 2, 2007

"How do I improve my child's reading grade?"

I often hear from parents the question, " How do we improve my child’s reading grade?" While the response is primarily how to improve the child’s reading itself, it still works for both. Below are some tips to do just that. Let’s see if some of them will help us. Even if your child is getting a great reading grade, these suggestions are some excellent ideas an will help improve your reading time together. The best point of all is at the bottom of these 2 pages. Don’t forget to read it. ****
You have a big influence on your child when you spend time reading together. Experts in child literacy are unanimous in their belief that parents should
read with their children. The power of the parent-child bond has a positive effect on a child's attitude toward reading and his ability to read. The suggestions below will help you learn how to make reading with your child both a pleasure and a learning experience.

1. Choose the right book using the "Five-Finger Rule." Have your child open the book to any page in the middle of the book and read that page. Each time she comes to a word she does not know she should hold up one finger. If she gets to five fingers before she finishes reading the page, the book could be too hard. If she doesn’t hold up any fingers, the book is probably easy for your child and can be used to build reading fluency. If she holds up two or three fingers, the book is likely to be a good level for her reading to grow.

2. Use "sound" strategies to tackle a new word. Ask your child to sound out an unknown word. Look at the letters in a difficult word and have your child pronounce each sound, or "phoneme." Then see if he can blend the sounds together to pronounce the word. Help him memorize irregular words. Explain that words like "where," "hour" or "sign" are hard to sound out since they don't follow normal sound patterns. Point these words out when you're reading to help your child learn to recognize them on his own. Use suffixes, prefixes, and root words. If your child knows the word "day," guide him to define new words like "yesterday" or "daily." Similarly, if he knows what "pre" means, it's easy to learn new words like "prepare" or "preschool."

3. Use the story to help your child learn.
Ask your child what word or idea would make sense in the plot of the story when he gets stuck on an unfamiliar word. Encourage your child to look at illustrations, pictures, titles or graphs to figure out the meaning of new words.

4. Give support and encouragement.
Challenge your child to figure out new words, but always supply the word before he becomes frustrated. After your child has read a story, reread it aloud yourself, so that he can enjoy it without interruption.

5. Be a good role model. Let your child see you reading, and share your excitement when you enjoy a great book of your own.

6. Make reading a priority. Whether it's 10 minutes every night before bed or an hour every Sunday morning, it helps to set aside a specific time for reading. This kind of special "together time" can go a long way in getting your child interested in books.

7. Create the right atmosphere. Find a quiet comfortable place to listen to your children read. While you don't need to build a special reading nook, it helps to ensure that even in a busy home, there's a quiet place for reading.

8. Make reading fun. Kids may not get excited at the idea of quiet time spent curled up on the couch. Why not make it fun by turning reading sessions into impromptu theater performances? Play around with funny voices to impersonate animals or unusual characters in stories. You'll get to release some tension and your child will learn to think of reading as fun rather than work.

9. Keep reading aloud to your child. Don't stop reading aloud to your child once she learns to read by him/herself. When you take a turn at reading, you let your child enjoy books that are beyond her independent reading level and build her vocabulary by exposing her to new words. Reading aloud is also a chance for you to model reading smoothly and with expression.

10. Introduce new books. Each year there is one book that seems to steal the hearts and minds of all children. While it may seem it's the only book your child wants to read, it's important to remember that there are millions of books that will suit your child's interests and capture his imagination and still meet your standards of what is appropriate reading. Use these resources to help your child find great books.

**** Remember, the best way for us to improve your child’s reading grade and his/her reading overall, is simply to read more!! I know it sounds like over-simplification and dismissiveness, but it’s not. It is the basic truth to all learning and improvement in education…Repetition is the Key to Learning. The more I do it, the better I get at it. Reading More = Reading Better.
May God continue to bless you and your family.

Joe Tarr