See Spot Run: Tackling the reading challenge and how to help your children like it

The kinds of homes that produce the best readers, and 10 ways to get them off to a great start reading
By Teri Girard, CVC 2nd Grade Teacher

Before children enter preschool, they have already begun the journey into literacy.  Children are introduced to the power of the written word early in life.  Within their first few months of life, babies come in contact with written language. They build with alphabet blocks and chew on board books. Each time they sit on a parent’s lap to hear a story, they are learning more about print and how it works. They learn that we read from left to right, that the pictures match the text and that those letters on the page somehow work together to make meaning.  When children observe their parents reading books, writing grocery lists, or reading the mail, they learn that the written word has power. As children become aware of the print in their homes and communities, they strive to make sense of it. Thus, their journey into literacy begins.

Learning to read is a developmental process and is different for every child. Just as children begin talking or walking at different ages, they learn to read at their own pace. Each child’s literacy journey varies. Walk into a first or second grade classroom and you will see children reading books in a wide variety of levels. Our goal as teachers is to help them gain confidence, build fluency and increase comprehension. Even more, we strive to instill a love for reading. But teachers cannot do this alone. We are just one part of the process.  This begs the question: How can parents help their children grow as readers?

Here are some ways parents can support their emergent readers:

 1. Read to them. There is nothing that can replace time reading to your children.

 2. Read with them. Take turns reading the pages, giving them support as they begin to read longer passages at a time.

 3. Let them see YOU read. If children see their parents choosing to read (just for the enjoyment of it), they realize that reading is worthwhile and important.

 4. Help your child choose appropriate books. Books that are too hard can cause frustration.  If your child struggles with 5 or more words per page, then that particular book is too hard. Finding books that are “just right” is key.

5. Encourage their interests. If your child loves learning about animals, then find nonfiction books that will keep his/her interest. If they enjoy reading about certain characters, then stock up on the entire series.

6. Visit the library. Instill a love for books by visiting the library together.

7. Encourage your child to read at least 20 minutes each evening. Research has shown that reading for twenty minutes every day can make a huge difference in a child’s literacy growth. Ask them to read shorter bible passages during evening family devotions, or to read a written prayer.

8. Support them as they read. When your child encounters an unknown word, encourage them to look at the picture, skip the word and come back, look for little words in big words, or use their knowledge of letter/sound connections.

9. Talk to your children about what they are reading. Discuss their favorite parts of the story, make connections between experiences in the book and your child’s own experiences, or talk about the main character and the choices he or she makes in the book. Talking to your children about what they read will help build comprehension skills.

10. Be your child’s biggest cheerleader. Support them when reading is a struggle and celebrate with them as they grow as readers.

As teachers, we always look to partner with parents in the education of their child! At Central Valley Christian Schools, we also partner with the church, and bring Christ into every aspect of the classroom, from Bible memory verses to book reports. Want to learn more about how your child could learn to love reading or be challenged with new books and authors? Inquire today!

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