Ten Ways to Improve Your Child's Reading: Tip #1 Turn Every Reading Lesson Into A Language Lesson

For my next blog series I will be discussing “Ten Ways to Improve Your Child’s Reading.”

Tip #1 Turn Every Reading Lesson Into A Language Lesson

...Never use the book to introduce- use the book to reinforce. Pre-teaching is critical and itis paramount that you pre-teach critical vocabulary and language in your home before you sit down and expect your child to read a book about a new subject....


Is your child reading for meaning, or are they just identifying words on the page?

Should Process Precedes Skills?

Parents it is so important to give your child a basic understanding of what reading actually feels like. It’s hard to believe, but many students, regardless of age, have never truly read with fluency and expression.

Sure some kids can “read” but listen to them read and what it really sounds like is word attack on steroids. They are more involved in making sure they apply the appropriate skills to correctly sound out or identify the word they are currently focused on, than understanding that word. They see reading as merely identifying words in isolation, as unconnected strings of words presented in a horizontal format. There is no meaning, no expression and worse, no comprehension.

Is this your child? How can you find out?

First, have them read to you and ask them what they’ve read. Are they reading with a slow, monotone process? If so, nine out of ten times they will respond with “I don’t know!” Sadly, they are so focused on getting the words right that they are not gaining meaning from the printed page.

These students are stuck at the skills level, with the mistaken belief that skills precede process.

What should you do? Well first things, first - these students must experience the process of reading – reading fluently with expression and comprehension - before skills can really make sense. It has been my experience that once this happens, many students start to automatically apply and improve their knowledge of the importance of skills to the reading process. They can now understand where skills fit into the reading process.

Read to them, demonstrate how it is done! Then be an active listener while they read to you. Let them get on the “reading process bike” and stay by their side. Don’t send them down the biggest hill at first, but let them ride and once they experience what it feels like to ride - reading with expression - then you can more fully explain the importance of reading’s skills - i.e. the wheels, spokes, handle bars, and brakes.

In short, the process – reading with expression and comprehension – must precede its complimentary skills – sounding words out or memorizing sight words.

One final note: you can introduce skills “in conjunction with” process as long as process comes first. So as a parent if your child is learning “skills” in the classroom it is so important for you to make a special time at home for the process of reading. Carve out time whenever you can to expand their vocabulary and experiences of what reading for meaning really feels like. Just like you taught them how to ride a bike and tie their shoes show them what it looks and feels like to read for meaning with full expression and comprehension. Remember you are an important tool in your child’s reading success!