Wednesday

Improve Reading Skills by Having Kids Listen to Stories

Reading is more than reading words correctly. I have seen many readers be able to read words, but not make sense of what is read. I was one of those readers when I was young. I didn't enjoy reading as a child or teenager. I was in my twenties before reading started to make sense for me and become enjoyable.

You can increase a child's ability to attach meaning to reading by providing many opportunities to hear stories and let a child get involved in the stories. Reading a book to a child yourself is probably the best since vocabulary and questions can be addressed immediately. If you'd like ideas to improve comprehension while reading with a child, you can check out this post.

Audio books are great for getting more stories and language to your kids. Listening to an audio book together on a road trip is a way to have a story to discuss and have a shared experience. Recently my family and I listened to My Brother Sam is Dead on a road trip. It did have a sad and graphic ending. My children are older, so they were able to handle it. I didn't plan the timing, but the story ended exactly when we pulled into the garage. It is a memory we all share, and a story we won't forget.

There are a number of free online sites that have books for watching and listening. I've used many of these sites with my own kids. We really loved using these sites while preparing dinner.

If you'd like to check understanding of books, you can check out Book Adventure. I'm using this with my kids. It's a free site with book quizzes.




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Parents Who Read Aloud to Their Children Set Them Up for Reading Success!

You can make a difference in this world by spreading this message and encouraging parents to read aloud to their children from birth.

My Parent and Child Reading Assistance business recently became a partner with Read Aloud 15 MINUTES. Here's a graphic Read Aloud 15 MINUTES produced.



I've come across a number of organizations that promote reading aloud. There are many ways you can help. You can support an organization financially or by spreading information through social media. You can make personal connections with parents you know. Share books or have encouraging conversations.

When my niece had a baby, the first thing I did was send her board books for babies and some books that would interest a toddler. I found most of them at a used store. Her parents and grandma read to her often. She is three years old now and loves when someone reads to her.

My community recently set up Reach Out and Read at The Children's Clinic. Children are given age specific books and read aloud advice from pediatricians at every well visit. We are working on sustaining and growing Reach Out and Read. 

I'm proud of the work being done in my community to promote reading aloud. Our library has story times and activities for children and parents. Books and Babies shows parents and caregivers how to read to babies. There's a women's organization that promotes reading aloud to children through presentations and by giving a touch and feel board book and literacy resources to every baby born in Yellowstone County. United Way gives away books and literacy information through a local Reading Matters program.

Here's a page with a list of organizations I've found that promote reading aloud to children. I'd love to know about more organizations or your stories of reading aloud to children in a comment.

Set children up for reading success. 
We can all do something big or small. 
It all matters.





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Tuesday

What Reading Skills Do Children Need?



A reader combines four reading skills.


COMPREHENSION, VOCABULARY, FLUENCY, and DECODING


READING COMPREHENSION

A reader with good reading comprehension has a purpose for reading, monitors for understanding while reading, and checks for understanding after reading.

When you read with a child you can talk about thinking you do while reading. I personally struggled with this until I was twenty-five years old. I didn't naturally think before, during, or after reading. I read the words on the page and thought that was enough. I did not enjoy reading or do well in school until by some miracle I figured out how to think while reading in college.

I love the book 7 Keys to Reading Comprehension. This book clearly explains how to help a child do the right kind of thinking. It will give you ways to model thinking and ask the right questions.

VOCABULARY


Vocabulary knowledge is an important part of reading. It is built through experiences, conversations, and reading. New vocabulary words can be learned while reading by using word parts, attending to context clues, or using a dictionary.

Readers need to understand most of the words being read to understand their reading.

FLUENCY

A reader with strong fluency skills quickly recognizes words, reads like a person speaks, and focuses on meaning.

It is normal for an early reader to sound choppy and take longer to read. It takes patience to listen to a beginning reader. Fluency comes with practice and combining reading skills. Telling a reader to read faster will not make a reader fluent.

Improve fluency by making sure sounding out has been taught and is happening. Then have plenty of books at your child's reading level that are enjoyable to read. Encourage your child to read out loud. I like to tell a child that their is a movie playing in my head when I listen to your reading. The movie gets fuzzy when something is read correctly. I ask them to please rewind the movie and play it again. If small errors are made and I can still understand the story, I don't stop a reader. Encourage your child to have a movie and make sure to get them to reread a sentence when the meaning gets fuzzy.

DECODING

Decoding involves reading words by using sounds, phonics, and knowledge of phonics rules and exceptions.

Decoding words takes a lot of effort and time in the beginning stages of reading. Smooth reading will not happen until decoding becomes automatic. It takes time and practice for a child to decode words quickly. Your child will stumble over words when learning to decode. Think of the beginning stages of reading as a child learning to walk.

A good online reading program can teach decoding skills.

Teach Letter Sounds and Letter Combinations

After a child knows the alphabet and letter sounds, there are still a few letter combinations you can teach. I suggest you start by teaching a few letter combinations at a time. These letter combinations can be taught while you read books to your child. Stop and point out a few letters and letter combinations. Break the word apart by individual sounds with your voice.

Phonics Pathways and Reading Pathways are good books to teach letter combinations. You can also check out Reading Bear. Reading Bear is a free online program that gives practice with letter sounds and letter combinations.


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Monday

Sounding Out Words



When a child is first learning to read, it is important to give a little help and know a little about sounding out words yourself.  Reading Horizons has a free phonics course for parents. Just visit the highlighted link and find phonics training under the resources tab. 

Reading Bear is a free site that helps teach children to sound out words.

Here's a link to some Reading Programs I recommend.

If you've been reading my blog for awhile you know the story of how my daughter started reading by memorizing words and using picture clues. She didn't learn to sound out words until the middle of first grade and was falling behind her twin brother. Here's a link to her story and the story of how my other two children learned to read.

Should we be teaching children sight words?
There are many people who promote learning words by sight. Eventually words are known by sight. Often times when an early reader memorizes a few words it helps them read some simple books and increases confidence. I hope by sharing my story I can help a few children learn to sound out words and then commit words to memory. Here's a great article from The Reading Genie that helps explain the process of learning to read words and becoming a fluent reader.

Feel free to share any learning to read stories in a comment.






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Saturday

How Do Children Learn to Read?


Here's a picture of my oldest son.

He's one of three children. I read to him from the time he was a baby. He was reading before he started school. If I only had one child, I could've been fooled into thinking all parents had to do is read to their children to turn them into successful readers. He has twin siblings. My other two children were read to just as much, but they didn't learn to read as easily. In fact one struggled a lot.

I recently found an amazing resource for parents. It's Nemours Reading Bright Start! There are book recommendations and activities for all ages. 

My other advice is for parents is to get their children help with reading if they fall behind in reading by first grade. One on one help is the most effective way to help a struggling reader. Tutoring is a good option, but usually expensive and time consuming. Another option is online help. I have some online reading programs I highly recommend.

Children will learn to read at their own pace and make the connections needed with experience. Parents can help their children learn to read by exposing children to language, good books, and interacting in ways recommended by Nemours Reading Bright Start.


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Learning to Write Letters with Finger Paint

Children will attempt to write letters while scribbling and drawing at an early age. My first child, Eric, started making many of his letters from the bottom up. It was difficult to get him to start writing his lowercase "r" in his name correctly. It wasn't that big of a deal, but unlearning something takes time and can cause frustration.


Try finger paint, freezer paper, and pointer fingers to make learning to write letters fun.  
 

Here are some things to practice before a child is ready to write letters.
1. Practice making lines from the top to the bottom.
2. Practice making circles from the left to the right. Many letters like c, o, d, a, and g start at the 2:00 position of a circle and move to the left. (Making smiley faces and having a child follow your finger is fun.)
3. Practice making candy canes that look like the letter f or the tail of the letter g.
4. Let your child be creative and have fun making lines and pictures with finger paint.


There are a few different styles of printing. If you are homeschooling, you can choose your favorite style to teach. If you are sending your child to school, it would be wise to check what style of handwriting will be taught. My children's school district teaches manuscript handwriting or D' Nealian.

Handwriting Tips from Therapy Street for Kids
 Here's a link to a previous post that includes videos showing how to form letters using D'Nealian style handwriting. 



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