Regular reading practice at home is known to greatly support the acquisition of essential reading skills taught at school. However, it is important to emphasize that these gains are only seen when reinforcement at home is positive. Parents that push too much or demand 100% accuracy can spoil the reading experience and turn children off reading and learning.
Find a quiet spot away from other distractions –turn off the TV, stereo etc. Reading practice should not be a punishment or a chore – rather just something that we do each day like putting on our clothes! It is best to choose a time when the child is not over tired –try to schedule the home reading program at a regular time so it becomes a habit. Note bedtime stories should be a leisure activity not time to do home-reading.
Always remember that it’s practice that’s needed not pressure!
You can expect that any reading book brought home to share should have already been read at school with the teacher– check that your child is familiar with the book before proceeding. Only if they are familiar with the story then ask him to:
- tell you what the story is about
- show you his favorite picture
- tell you which part he likes best
If you are sharing a story that he hasn’t met before you should go through the book together page by page, discussing pictures and likely storyline so that he can predict some of the vocabulary and the events of the story.
When the child stops at an unknown word he should use a variety of strategies that he has been taught:
- initial letter
- meaning from the context
- structure of sentence
- ending letters ( -s -ing -er -ed )
- middle letters
- similarity to known word
If he still cannot solve the word you can prompt him:
- What else could you try?
- Is it like a word you know?
- What is happening in the story?
- Does the picture help you?
- Can you find the tricky bit?
If he makes an error but does not notice, you should just say “Something was not quite right there. Try that sentence again.”
- Allow processing time.
- Give opportunities to apply learned strategies and for practice of reading skills.
- Praise, praise – very important. Say “I like the way you worked that out.”
- Read with him so it is not a long task – alternate pages or final pages of longer stories. This also gives a model of fluent reading with expression and attention to full-stops and other punctuation.
- Remember – good reading should sound like talking – stories are just talk written down!
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