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Ideas for Helping Your Child with Reading

Birth-4 Years 





Birth-4 Years

Most children listen, speak, use muscles they will use for writing, and get ready for reading.  They begin to explore their world and start to learn how to read and write.  They ask “why” often as a way of beginning to understand how events and objects are related.

  • Test Read to your child every day beginning by 6 months of age (if not earlier).
  • Use words that will help your child understand the connection between the word and meaning.  Talking expands the child’s vocabulary and develops language skills that are important to readers.
  • Point out objects and say the word - in books, in the grocery store, in the neighborhood, at stores and in your home.
  • Have books available in every room so your child will be able to look at books often.
  • Tell stories to your child using your own experiences.
  • Read nursery rhymes and sing songs together.
  • Help your child learn to recognize letters, numbers and shapes.
  • Give your child the opportunity to play and develop skills that will be used for writing – drawing, playing with clay, creating plays, coloring, using magnetic letters and shapes, cutting paper, putting together simple puzzles, coloring, sorting, etc.
  • Play games that require following simple directions, listening and taking turns.

Kindergarten-2nd Grade

Children get better at reading and writing by speaking and getting to know the alphabet, sounds and words. They learn how to decode words they do not know, develop their vocabulary by listening to and discussing stories that are read aloud, summarize stories by giving details of events, understand and follow directions, read with fluency, generate ideas for writing, and use complete sentences when writing.

  • Read a story to your child, and then ask him or her to tell the story back to you.
  • Ask your child questions during reading the story.  Have the child predict what will happen next, guess the ending, or how he would solve the problem.  These skills encourage two-way communication as well as check for understanding.
  • Have your child help you make a grocery list and/or find items on the list.
  • Together, read a title of a story, a magazine article, or a newspaper article.  Guess what the story or information will be about and share the ideas.  Then read the article or story together to check your accuracy.
  • Have your child draw a picture.  Together, write a story that goes with the picture.  You may use a family photograph, a picture from a magazine, or one that is drawn by the child.
  • Play games with your child that require concentration – card games, counting games, memory games, etc.
  • Read to your child each day.  As your child becomes more proficient in reading, share the reading.
  • Encourage your child to select various types of books to read – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s magazines, etc. Find books to match your child’s interests (cars, animals, sports, etc).
  • Take books with you wherever you go – keep them in the car, carry them with you do dentist appointments, etc.
  • Write notes to your child and have your child write notes to you or other family members.
  • Make tape recordings of a story when you will not be available to read in person.  The child can still “read with you” in your absence.
  • Visit the library with your child.  Help your child get a library card and understand how to care for and return borrowed books.
  • Encourage your child to act out stories in plays or puppet shows with friends, brothers, or sisters.
  • Play rhyming games, sing songs with rhymes, and play with sounds of words.
  • Limit television viewing.
  • Make sure your child see you reading!

 3rd-5th Grade

Children are now reading to learn new information.  They can identify author’s purpose in a text, read and organize information, identify examples of fact, fiction and opinion in text, understand development of plots and understand how conflicts are resolved in a story, make inferences and draw conclusions and understand cause and effect relationships.  In writing, they create logical beginning, middle, and end appropriate to their writing, use various parts of speech correctly in writing, use varied sentence structures and use an organizational plan to support ideas and details.

  • Play games and puzzles like Scrabble, Word Lotto, crossword puzzles.
  • Give magazine subscriptions and books as gifts.
  • Encourage reading everyday for pleasure.
  • Develop a family newsletter for relatives out of town and have your child act as editor.
  • Monitor your child’s progress with homework by asking, “Show me what you learned today in  “    ”, or “Tell me about the book you are reading."
  • Continue reading aloud to your child (and family). Read books more difficult than the child could read independently, as it will continue top improve vocabulary.
  • Link movies and television shows to books.  Limit TV viewing and video games.
  • Have your child rewrite and update some classic fairy tales to modern versions.

6th-8th Grade

Children begin to read more complex young adult literature, often enjoying survival and adventure stores focused on teenagers, they use non-fiction information to develop a deeper understand of subjects, make judgments and comparisons of what they read, evaluate, interpret, and analyze, use resource materials with greater ease and understanding, and can follow detailed instructions.  In writing, students understand the importance of a draft and revisions, organize work that provides for a logical progression of ideas, has clarity in the presentation if ideas, and uses conventions of grammar and spelling regularly in writing and speaking.

  • Encourage reading on a regular basis.  Allow extra time for reading if at all possible. Allow a later bedtime or set a specific time for reading – books, magazines, hobby information, etc.
  • Encourage this age to read to younger brothers and sisters.
  • Play games like Scrabble, Scattergories and Balderdash together as they are fun and reinforce reading skills.
  • Limit television viewing and video game playing.
  • Plan time for homework daily; if no homework, time should be spent reading.
  • Make use of the library to increase awareness of materials available.
  • Ask your child to review a movie or book for you, either verbally or in writing.
  • Develop a family newsletter or family history.  Have your child interview older family members to find out how times have changed.
  • At a meal, ask everyone to share something new they have read that day.  You could also have family members share something that they are reading as an update on a book.
  • Have a library scavenger hunt.  Choose a variety of facts to find, author information, resources, etc.

9th-12th Grade

Young adolescents are beginning to use specialized vocabulary for interpersonal, academic and workplace situations, use a variety of study strategies when reading, such as taking notes, summarizing, outlining, and rereading. They select and use appropriate study and research skills according to the type of information being gathered and organized for specific purposes – publications, reports, term or research papers.  They can synthesize information from multiple resources to draw conclusions and understand the different styles, themes and qualities present in literature from different cultures and historical time frames.  In writing, students use prewriting strategies such as brainstorming, graphic organizers and outlines to assist in independent studying.  Their organizational patterns of writing use effective transitions, varied sentence structure, support that is substantial through details and facts and has a logical progression of ideas throughout the writing.

  • Read and discuss the same books or newspaper articles.
  • Encourage use of the newspaper to find different types of information.
  • Keep a sharing board for the family to stay in touch with activities, items of interest, schedules, etc.
  • Learn a word for the day, or a list of five words for the week.  You may also have each family member introduce a personal new word each day.  Encourage vocabulary building by using information from SAT study guides.
  • Communicate with your child about homework, projects, tests, etc.
  • Talk about current events, books, articles and television shows during meal times, in the car, etc.
  • Ask your child what they think about different current events – political races, television prime time shows, world cultures/ religious concerns, etc.  This develops higher level thinking skills and speaking fluency.