Reading with your child every night is one of the most important learning activities you can do for your child and their education.
Read together every night from the day your child is born.
- Build up to reading 15 to 20 minutes or longer each night, as your child gets older and their attention span increases.
- When your day has been hectic and you may not have spent as much quality time with your children as you would’ve hoped for, sitting down in a quiet place together to read, is one of the best things you can do. In addition to all the educational benefits, it lets your child know that no matter what craziness happens during the day, he or she can count on this time together. It’s also a calming activity before bed.
- Go to the library or book store and find books on your child’s interests.
- Repetitive or rhyming books are great for young children.
- Make books together.
- Be a role model. Let your children see you reading.
Reading helps build:
- Vocabulary – for pictures and written words, for both expressive as well as receptive language.
- An awareness of the association between the spoken word and the printed word and that letters form words and words form sentences.
- Letter, sound, and word recognition.
- An understanding of grammar and syntax rules.
- An understanding of the structure and organization of different types of books and other reading materials.
- Comprehension skills, imagination, and knowledge base.
- A love for reading and learning, which will help them in every subject across the curriculum, including mathematics.
Getting ready to read with your child. (Before reading)
- Find a quiet place to read, free of distractions.
- Teach book awareness. Point out and discuss/explain the cover, title, title page, author, illustrator, and if applicable, the table of contents, index, and glossary. It helps children to become familiar with the parts and organization of reading books and textbooks for their own knowledge and so they can access information when necessary.
- Take a picture walk or preview reading material. Encourage your child to look at pictures, diagrams, headings, graphs, bold-faced print, and highlighted words.
- Make predictions about reading and discuss prior knowledge or experiences. Relating material to be read with information we already know, makes it more meaningful and increases our interest, comprehension, and memory.
- If your child needs to answer follow-up questions, have him or her read the questions first and highlight/underline key words in the question. This helps to focus their attention while reading, which increases their comprehension and teaches them how to look for key information. It is important, of course, to still read the entire selection to be sure no information is missed.
Your role during reading…for babies through emergent readers: (During reading)
- Move your fingers under the words as you read to teach the association between the spoken and printed word and to illustrate that we read from top to bottom and from left to right.
- Examine the pictures together and practice vocabulary. You can provide the word and ask them to point to the picture (receptive vocabulary) or you can point to the picture and ask them what it is (expressive vocabulary). Play peek-a-boo with the pictures. Use a cloth to cover one picture and ask, “Where’ the ….?”
- As they get older, give them a task such as finding a particular letter on a page or reading a repeated word or phrase. Get excited and praise them for their reading skills!
- Model sounding out (decoding) words and using picture and context clues to figure out unfamiliar words and their meanings.
- If your child misreads a word, wait and give them an opportunity to self-correct. If they continue to the end of the sentence without correcting, repeat exactly what they said and ask, “Does that make sense?”
- It can be challenging to focus on decoding while still maintaining comprehension. In other words, if your child is struggling to decode a word in a sentence, they may forget what the rest of the sentence said. Be sure to re-read the entire sentence or have them re-read it in order to ensure comprehension.
- During reading, check their comprehension by asking them questions about the characters and plot. Ask them both literal and inferential questions such as “Why do you think…?” You can also ask them to summarize information and explain it to you. Make predictions while reading. You can both make predictions and see who comes closer.
- After reading, check comprehension by asking them to tell you what happened, sequence events, and summarize the main idea.
- Take advantage of the opportunity for “teachable moments.”
- Point out rhyming words and patterns.
- Discuss homophones – words with the same sound but different meaning and spelling (bare, bear) and homonyms – words that have the same sound and spelling but different meaning (bat, bat).
Your role during reading…for fluent readers: (During reading)
- Encourage children to continue to use strategies taught such as previewing, tapping prior knowledge, making predictions, highlighting important information, etc.
- Monitor their comprehension by asking them to summarize and teach you the information.
- Be available to clarify directions and answer questions.
- Monitor assignments to make sure they are completed on time, handed in, graded, and returned.
- If you have concerns, call your child’s teachers and set up a meeting if necessary, rather than waiting for progress reports or report cards.
Allow for “down time.”
Most children need a break between coming home from school and beginning their homework. Some need a quiet, calming time while others need a physical outlet.
Some children, especially those with attention difficulties or sensory issues, work hard throughout the school day to “keep it together” and need an opportunity to move their bodies when they get home.
Sugar-loaded snacks or drinks may result in “highs” and “lows” in energy and attention levels.
Provide a healthy snack prior to homework.
Eating and drinking while doing homework can be distractible and often leads to spills or messy homework papers.
This can be hard to do, but there will be less arguing and frustration for both of you if you have a consistent homework routine.
Have a consistent routine.
Have set times for “down time,” snack, homework, dinner, and bedtime.
Some children do best at the kitchen table where an adult can keep an eye on them and make sure they’re actually doing their homework while others need to be in their bedrooms.
Decide on an appropriate area for doing homework.
Try to make their work area as distraction-free as possible. Distractions from televisions, siblings, and other conversations can make concentrating difficult.
Be mindful of lighting. In general, it’s best for the area to be well-lit, but some children prefer dimmer lighting.
Consider playing classical or other calming instrumental music.
Review your child’s planner and be sure that you know all their homework assignments and due dates. Some teachers post homework on the web.
Help them manage their time and prioritize assignments.
Generally it’s better to do more challenging assignments first, but ask yourself: Does my child do best when they get the tough things over with first while they’re still fresh and alert or does it lead to frustration that makes it impossible to do other assignments later? Do they need to do an easier, more independent assignment first to build up their confidence?
Plan for long-term projects and studying. Do a piece each night rather than cramming or saving it until the night before it’s due.
Be sure that they have a few sharpened pencils, pens, white or yellow paper, highlighters, reference materials, etc.
Have ready or gather all necessary homework materials.
Encourage your child’s independence to the maximum extent possible.
Your role in your child’s homework.
Encourage your child to try their best, but be available to answer questions and to offer assistance when needed. Being there also lets them know that you’re interested in what they’re doing and that it’s important.Be certain that they understand the directions. Check for understanding by having them play the role of teacher and explain them back to you.
If possible, try to model for your child while they’re doing homework. In other words, if they’re reading, you read a book. If they’re doing math, you can pay bills or balance your checkbook. This lets them know that the skills they’re learning are important for later in life. It’s also less distracting for them than hearing you watch television or talk on the phone.Resist the temptation to do the homework for them. It’s important for their teacher to know what they did and didn’t understand and what they’re able to do independently. You can jot a note to the teacher to let them know that they needed a lot of assistance or to please review it with them in class.
Know your child’s attention span. Give short breaks as needed to move their bodies, eat a light snack, etc. Let them know how long the break will be – in minutes or by activity. For example, you may say that they need to be back at the table in 5 minutes or that they can do 10 jumping jacks.
Know when to take a break.
Some children need to move their bodies throughout homework time. My rule is: As long as you’re doing your work well, you can do whatever you need to do with your body.Watch for signs of frustration. Take a break and when you resume, backtrack to an area where they felt confident.
Always let them know how proud you are of them. Let them play a favorite game when they’ve finished all their homework. Do something special on the weekend when you’ve both worked hard all week.
Finally, reward your child’s efforts and achievements!