TIPS FOR PARENTS
Parents can have a strong positive influence on their child's reading.
Research has shown that enjoying books with a child for even a few minutes a
day can make a measurable difference in the acquisition of basic reading
skills, and that everyday activities - such as a trip to the grocery store -
can be turned into enjoyable learning experiences.
Following is a list of ways in which parents can encourage the
development of the skills needed by children in order for them to become
Create Appreciation of the Written Word
- Find time to read aloud with your child every day. Typically, parents
play an important role in developing this skill by reading to children and
showing how important reading is to their daily life. Lap time with
picture books and stories can strongly motivate your child to enjoy
reading. Try to make these books available for your children to explore
and enjoy on their own as well.
Develop Awareness of Printed Language
- Teach about books. When reading aloud to your child, let your child
open the book and turn the pages. Point to the words as you read. Draw
attention to repeated phrases, inviting your child to join in each time
- Point out letters and words that you run across in daily life. Make an
obvious effort to read aloud traffic signs, billboards, notices, labels on
packages, maps, and phone numbers. Make outings a way to encourage reading
by showing your child how printed words relate to daily living.
Learn the Alphabet
- Play alphabet games. Sing the alphabet song to help your child learn
letters as you play with alphabet books, blocks, and magnetic letters.
Recite letters as you go up and down stairs or give pushes on a swing.
A-B-C, dot-to-dot and letter-play workbooks, games, and puzzles are
available at most toy stores. Many engaging computer games are designed
for teaching children letters. Make sure these toys are available even
when you are unable to play along.
- Watch "Sesame Street" with your child. Show the child how to sing
along, answer the riddles, and engage actively in its fun.
- Make writing materials available to your child and encourage their
use. Help your child learn to write his/her name and other important words
or phrases. Gradually, help the child learn to write more and more
letters. At first, most children find it easier to write uppercase
Understand the Relation of Letters and Words
- Teach your child to spell a few special words, such as his/her name,
"stop," or "exit." Challenge the child to read these words every place
they are seen. Draw attention to these and other frequently occurring
words as you read books with your child. Challenge the child to read these
words as they arise or to search them out on a page. Play word-building
games with letter tiles or magnetic letters. Have the child build strings
of letters for you to read.
Understand That Language is Made of Words, Syllables, and Phonemes
- Sing songs and read rhyming books. Sing the alphabet with your child,
and teach your child songs that emphasize rhyme and alliteration, such as
"Willaby Wallaby Woo" and "Down By the Sea." Emphasize the sounds as you
sing. Play rhyming games and clap out names. Jumble the wording or word
order of familiar poems and challenge your child to detect the error. Talk
like a robot, syllable by syllable.
- Play word games. Challenge your child to play with words. For example,
ask your child to think of words that rhyme with "bat" or begin with /m/.
What would be left if you took the /k/ sound out of "cat"? What would you
have if you put these sounds together: /p/ and ickle; /m/ and ilk; and
/s/, /a/, and /t/. Which of these words starts with a different sound --
"bag", "candy", "bike"? Do "boat" and "baby" start with the same sound?
Learn Letter Sounds
- Sound out letters. Point out other words that begin with the same
letter as your child's name, drawing attention to the similarities of the
begining sound. Use alphabet books, computer games, or car games such as,
"I'm thinking of something that starts with /b/" to engage the child in
alliterative and letter-sound play. If you have a book that lends itself
to alliteration and rhyme, such as a Dr. Seuss book, sound out rhyming
words as you read or challenge the child to do so for you. Play word games
that connect sounds with syllables and words. For example: If this spells
"cat," how do you spell "hat"?
Sound Out New Words
- Point out new words. As you encounter them, say the sound while
touching each letter in a new word. For example, say "s-u-n" and then
blend sounds to create the word. In practicing new words, use predictable
words with common sounds and spellings, like "fun" or "sat" instead of
"night" or "saw."
- If you encounter words with unknown meanings or with complex
spellings, encourage your child to try to sound out the words. However, if
too many words require this kind of attention and effort, it is best to
find an easier book.
- Play spelling games with your child. After your child begins
pronouncing words, encourage spelling by saying each sound in the words
and then writing the letter that goes with the sound.
- Encourage your child to spell. After your child has learned to
pronounce words, have the child say each sound.
- Independent writing. Encourage your child to use inventive or
independent spelling. At this stage, the child will tend to omit letters
and confuse letter names with letter sounds, producing such spellings as
LFNT for elephant, BN for bean, and FARE for fairy. Use correction wisely.
You should be most concerned about is the child's sensitivity to the
sounds that need to be represented.
Identify Words in Print Accurately and Easily
- Help your children to read easy, enjoyable stories as often as
possible. It is likely that your child will enjoy reading more and learn
more from reading if you sit together, taking turns reading and
encouraging discussion. In the beginning, invite the child to read
well-chosen words. Gradually, as the child becomes able, take turns with
sentences, speakers, paragraphs, and pages. At the end of each section or
story, revisit those words that caused trouble. Rereading the entire story
over several days, and again weeks later, is a powerful way to reinforce
Know Spelling Patterns
- Now it becomes useful to point out the similarities between words such
as will, fill, and hill or light, night, and sight. This is also the time
to help your child learn the correct spelling of the words he/she writes.
Learn to Read Reflectively
- Pause for discussions as you read. As you read stories to and with
your child, stop frequently to discuss their language, content, and
relevance to real life and other knowledge. Pause to explore the meanings
of new words, using them in other sentences and contrasting what they mean
with words that have similar meanings. Make an effort to revisit new words
and concepts later, when the book has been put aside. When reading
stories, pause to discuss the various characters, problems, events in the
story, and invite your child to think about how the problems might be
solved or to wonder about what might happen next. When resuming a story,
ask your child to review what has happened so far, drawing attention to
looming mysteries and unresolved conflicts. In reading expository text,
invite the child to marvel at the creatures or events described and to
wonder about details or connections not mentioned by the text.
Above all: Read, read, and re-read