A New School Year Already!
“Books can make you laugh, cry, wonder, and become inspired. You can learn about people, places, and events in history. You can learn about friendship and love. You can learn about what it means to be a good human being.”-Matt Phelan, Author and Illustrator
“Literacy has been a national concern since the mid-1900s…Unfortunately, regardless of the literacy programs already initiated in many of our public schools by our government, illiteracy continues to grow at an alarming rate. According to a study conducted in late April 2015 by the US Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, 32 million adults in the United States can’t read above a fifth-grade level, and 19% of high school graduates can’t read.” [http://literacyinc.com]
Reading is a complex cognitive process of decoding symbols in order to construct or derive meaning (reading comprehension). It is a means of language acquisition, of communication, and sharing information and ideas. It is a complex interaction between the text and the reader which is shaped by the reader’s prior knowledge, experiences, attitude, and language community which is culturally and socially situated.
Statistically, two thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Students who don’t read proficiently by the third grade are four times likelier to drop out of school.
Reading is a major stepping stone for many.
PARENTS, Do YOU know the answers to these questions?
- Do I have to read aloud from a book at my child’s reading ability level? No, research supports that listening comprehension is much higher than reading comprehension, so a child can understand what is being read ‘to’ them even if they cannot yet read the words. This should open a dialogue between parent and child about what they read which is an important foundation to their reading success when they get to school.
- But I only have a newborn, toddler, or preschooler, how do I read to them? At early ages it’s not the words/text that is key but rather hearing the sounds of language and increasing vocabulary. You can do ‘picture walks’ or ‘book walks’ with very young children and just discuss the colors they see, or the shapes, or the kinds of animals, or the facial expressions…just provide a quick summary of the text in the story (don’t forget to include inflection in your voice to provide interest and excitement). As they approach preschool add in pointing to words (to develop concepts of print, and that letters go together to form words) Point in the text to sight words or vocabulary. If they know their letters of the alphabet or even some of them, use the words in the book for the child to point to those wherever they see them. Preschoolers can use a fun straw to point to the words as you read to develop their concept of letters into words, left to right direction for reading, and return sweep from the end of a line of text to the beginning of the next line.
- What should I do if my child struggles to read once they enter first grade? Parents are the Team Captains of their child’s reading success. You need to become a partner in their reading success, joining their teachers, schools, pediatricians, and other specialists. Reading instruction can no longer be the sole assignment of the child’s classroom. Maintain open communication with all members of the team and learn more on how you can participate. Do you know the basics of the ‘reding process’? Do you know helpful tips to use when reading with your child? Do you know how to guide your child to self-monitoring their reading errors instead of being told the answers to their miscues? Very important! You won’t be with your child constantly as they grow and learn so they need to be empowered to read successfully on their own. Do you know how to monitor your child’s grade level reading ability frequently each school year beyond just quick classroom assessments and standardized test scores? The intricacies of the reading process are complex and are not always pinpointed by a test score which can then open the door to creating a gap in their grade level reading ability and the gap becomes a challenging game of catch up after third grade.
So, parents, don’t stand idle on the sidelines.