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How Can I Improve My Child's Reading?

By: Beverley B. Swanson

Parents are more concerned about their child's progress in reading than in any other subject taught in school, and rightfully so.

In order for students to achieve in math, science, English, history, geography, and other subjects, reading skills must be developed to the point that most of them are automatic. Students cannot struggle with word recognition when they should be reading quickly for comprehension of a text.

Since reading is so important to success in school, parents can and should play a role in helping their children to become interested in reading and in encouraging their growth in reading skills.

What can parents do to help their preschoolers in the learning-to-read process?

Research shows that children learn about reading before they enter school. In fact, they learn in the best manner-through observation. Young children, for example, see people around them reading newspapers, books, maps, and signs.

Parents can do a lot to foster an understanding of print by talking with their preschoolers about signs in their environment and by letting their children know they enjoy reading themselves.

When reading to your preschooler, you should run your index finger under the line of print. This procedure is simple and helps children begin to notice words and that words have meaning. They also gain an awareness of the conventions of reading (e.g., one reads from left to right and from the top of the page to the bottom; sentences are made up of words; and some sentences extend beyond a single line of print).

What can I do for my school-age child who doesn't like to read?

In the early elementary years, from first through third grades, children continue learning how to read. It is a complex process, difficult for some and easy for others. Care must be taken during these early years not to overemphasize the learning-to-read process.

Reading for pleasure and information develops reading interests and offers children the opportunity to practice their reading skills in meaningful ways. Parents of elementary-age children should provide reading materials in the home that arouse curiosity or extend their child's natural interest in the world around them.

By encouraging and modeling leisure-time reading in the home, parents take the most important step in fostering their child's reading development.

How can reading research information be useful to me, as a parent?

Current research in reading reveals three important considerations for parents and teachers:

  • Children who read, and read widely, become better readers.
  • Reading and writing are complementary skills.
  • Parents are important to children both as role models and as supporters of their efforts.

What does research say about ways parents can help their children with reading?

The following suggestions have been beneficial to many parents:

  • Provide a good role model — read yourself and read often to your child.
  • Provide varied reading material — some for reading enjoyment and some with information about hobbies and interests.
  • Encourage activities that require reading — for example, cooking (reading a recipe), constructing a kite (reading directions), or identifying an interesting bird's nest or a shell collected at the beach (using a reference book).
  • Establish a reading time, even if it is only ten minutes a day.
  • Write notes to your school-age child; encourage written responses.
  • Ask your child to bring a library book home to read to a younger sibling.
  • Establish one evening a week for reading (instead of television viewing).
  • Encourage your child in all reading efforts.

References

References

Click the "References" link above to hide these references.

Loveday, E. and Simmons, K. (1988). "Reading At Home: Does It Matter What Parents Do?" Reading, 22 (2), 84-88. EJ 376 103.

Moore, S. A. and Moore, D.W. (1990). "Emergent Literacy: Children, Parents, and Teachers Together (Professional Resources)." Reading Teacher, 43 (4), 330-31. EJ 403 669.

Resh, C.A. and Wilson, M.J. (1990). "The Teacher-Parent Partnership: Helping Children Become Good Readers." Reading Horizons, 30 (2), 51-56. EJ 402 262.

Scott, J.A., et al. (1988). From Present to Future: Beyond "Becoming a Nation of Readers." Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Center for the Study of Reading. ED 302 823.

Teale, W.H. and Martinez, M.G. (1988). "Getting on the Right Road to Reading: Bringing Books and Young Children Together in the Classroom." Young Children, 44 (1), 10-15. EJ 380 635.

Excerpted from: Swanson, B. B. (2001). How Can I Improve My Child's Reading? Parent Brochure. ACCESS ERIC.