If you have a child in grades kindergarten through fourth, you most likely are very familiar with the 20 minutes of nightly reading they are assigned. The teacher probably sends home a sheet of some sort each week to report on this reading. For some students, this assignment is a breeze. Yet, for others and their parents, it is a dreaded requirement. So, what can you do as a parent to help your child through this assignment and even more so to improve their reading skills? Here are a few basic tips we have found success with.
Sit Next to Your Child
It's always a good idea to sit side by side with your child and silently read as they read. This gives them some accountability and discourages distractions. Teachers find that when children are left alone to read while parents catch up on laundry or dishes, they are more likely to not pay attention to the book. Some students will even start to make up their own stories as they read if they feel they can get away with it.
Choose the Right Time
The time of night you decide to complete this assignment is completely up to you and your child. You want to find a time that makes it easy for your child to cooperate and when you are not pushing them to simply finish. This suggests that right after they return from school or right before bed isn't opportune as your child may be in need of either play time or sleep, and neither is conducive for reading.
Do not Skip Reading Time
While 10-20 minutes may not seem like a lot of time, research shows that this time is crucial to your child’s reading development. Clumping all the required time together during one or two days doesn’t achieve the same results. This makes it necessary to find the time for your child to complete this assignment every night.
Keep Reading Aloud to Your Child
It is common for parents to think that once a child can read on their own, the adult is no longer needed. However, children in grades four and higher can still greatly benefit from being read to aloud. As an adult, you can read texts and stories of a much wider variety than your child. You reading these to them exposes them to a larger vocabulary and helps them to learn that reading can be interesting and fun.
Do not “Tell” Words as the Child Reads
As a teacher, it is easy to tell if a child is often told what words are during reading. These students, when they come across an unfamiliar word, will simply stop during class reading, expecting the teacher or someone to help them out instead of trying to figure it out on their own. Instead of telling them the word, try to show them simple word-solving strategies to teach themselves.
Try out these tips in your home to not only improve your child’s reading abilities but to also make the process enjoyable for you and them.