1. Read out loud to your child. It is a great way to build vocabulary and create a love of reading. You can also model “stop and thinks”, questioning, predicting and summarizing while you are reading with your child. You can ask them to do it as well while they listen. Research is very clear that reading out loud to children improves reading fluency and comprehension.
2. Work on phonics while your child reads out loud to you. Try to coach your child with prompts like: what sounds does the “e” make? Or, let’s try that word again. Does it make sense? Try another sound for the letter “a”. Remind them when “two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking” for the following: EE, EA, OA, AY, and AI. Also remind them about the silent e that makes the previous vowel long. Encourage your child to sound out every letter. If finger pointing helps, have him or her use a finger to help track across the words. Once the sentence is completed, your child should reread the sentence. Students lose understanding when they get bogged down in sounding out words. They can even reread the whole page to further solidify their understanding.
3. Practice reading sight words. Included with this sheet is a copy of the Dolch List. These are the 220 most commonly used words in reading. Each week we will study one of the lists. You should have your child practice reading the words on the list and focus on the ones that her or she doesn’t know. You can make flashcards for these words or use the checklist sheet. The goal is to read all these words easily and accurately.
4. Model and practice reading with expression. Along with this sheet you have a fluency checklist that describes what expressive reading sounds like. Review and model those skills with your child. Have your child practice phrasing (putting groups of words together) as opposed to reading word by word. Have him or her use different voices while he or she read stories with dialogue. Remind him or her to pause at commas and periods and let his or her voice rise at the end of questions.
5. Improve reading speed. Do words per minute (WPM) activities where you see how many words your child can read in one minute. The goal is to read at least 100 words correctly in one minute during a first read through of a passage (called a “cold read”). You can have your child gain confidence and experience by gradually building up to cold reads. First, have him or her practice a passage either by reading silently or reading out loud to you. Once your child has mastered the passage, you can time him or her and keep track of the words that were mispronounced, skipped, or incorrectly inserted into the passage. If your child is completely stumped on a word, provide assistance and have him or her read on. When one minute is up, count up the number of mistakes and subtract that number from the number of words that were read. This result is what is called a reading rate expressed in words per minute. As your child gets better at this, he or she can try some cold reads. I have included a chart to keep track of your child’s progress.
6. Encourage your child to use the following comprehension strategies:
- Stop and Think. After reading a sentence, or a paragraph or a page, have your child stop and think about what he or she read. Then have them tell you what they read. If her or she didn’t understand what was read, then reread it.
- Reread. When a child does a “stop and think” and doesn’t understand what was read, he or she should reread the passage. If your child is not scoring 80% or better on the AR tests, he or she must read the book at least two times before taking a test. Kids that are reading Book Club books should always read the book multiple times.
- Make Predictions. Ask your child to make predictions before and during reading. Ask them to make educated predictions by using clues: ideas in the text, the cover, the title, the pictures, etc.
- Ask Questions. Have him or her think of questions before and during reading. Then read to find the answers. Some questions may not be answered in the text.
- Use Context Clues to Figure Out What Words Mean. Have your child try to figure out what new words mean by looking at all the words around it in the sentence or passage. Have your child verbalize what they think the word might mean. Then you can tell them what the word actually means.
- Summarize. When your child finishes a book have him or her retell the story and share what was learned. If your child has difficulty doing this, then the book or chapter should be read again.