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Dubois Elementary School

120 South Lincoln Ave
Springfield, IL 62704

Instructional Coach's Insight

November 4, 2008

One of the goals for all children is for them to become lifelong successful readers. Reading at home regularly is an important part of this. When children are first learning to read or are struggling with reading, as parents we sometimes struggle with what to do to help our child. Dr. Philip Levin from UCLA offers five very practical suggestions to use at
1. Don't restrict reading to a bedtime activity - Bedtime stories are used to ease a child into sleep, reading practice needs to be done during a period when a child is alert and ready to learn from the process of guided reading. Try using the time as a "cool down time" after dinner or when parents arrive home from the office. It is excellent way to spend time with your child in quiet activity.
2. Preview the book before reading it - Parents are encouraged to look through the pictures with the child and have the child imagine what the story will be based on the images. This process helps with reading comprehension and teaches the child to use the context of all of the information in book to understand its content.
3. Don't be reluctant to repeat books - Parents are often concerned that the child will memorize the text and read it from memory rather than decoding the text. However, an alternate way of thinking about that process is that it is helping the child to recognize words by sight. It is estimated that the average child decodes a word three to four times before they can recognize it by sight. The more words that they can recognize by sight the quicker that they can read. This is one of the goals of guided reading practice.
4. Play number and word identification games - This tip emphasizes the need to use the book for purposes other than just telling a story. Games, such as finding every letter "Q" on a page, or looking for everything in couples, help children rapidly name letters and numbers, which is a key factor in developing reading fluency.
5. Don't immediately correct decoding mistakes - Parents can help their child to figure out correct pronunciation through teaching a process of how to correct. Similar to the old proverb about teaching a man to fish, if we instantly correct all mistakes without teaching children how correct for themselves, they become dependant on others to help them become fluent. Instead, try asking questions when a child stumbles over a word. Ask if the word sounds right. Ask if the word makes sense in the sentence, or if it matches the picture. This technique helps children learn to use context to correct themselves as opposed to focusing on word-by-word reading processes.