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A Reading Program That Parents Can Help With

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For Children Who Are Not Reading at Grade Level or Who Have Disabilities that Prevent Them From Reading at the Level of their Peers

Parents often ask, “What should I do to help my child with his reading?” If the parent is relying on the teachers to do the actual teaching of phonics and vocabulary, that doesn’t mean parents can’t help. Teachers are trained to get children to sound out letters and then apply that info to the printed word; however, the parents may help in any of the following ways:

  1. Give the child a variety of experiences, and insist the child describe to you all that he says and does, like a memory game. When parents return home, have a conversation about the experience and insist on details. If a word isn’t understood by the parent, ask him to repeat it more clearly. This helps a child to increase his vocabulary.

  2. Listen to your child and insist he listens to you. The child must have guided opportunities to listen to stories, tell about the story, and draw or write about what he has seen and heard. Use newspapers and magazines as well as books.

  3. Parents who read books on a daily basis improve their child’s vocabulary and their memory and their ability to feel comfortable with print. Read easy books and stories and poems to your child – ones that have large print and lots of pictures. While parents are reading to their child, name only the objects that match the words on the page.

  4. Use large print and script (cursive) writing when you write your child’s stories for them, if they can not do it themselves, but let them draw while you write. The child is responsible for doing what the parent does – namely, reading along with the story and paying attention.

  5. Give the child responsibilities for reading simple words like signs and food boxes and other object names that interest him. Create opportunities for your child to work at reading, by creating a corner or a place that is special for reading and where he can focus on the close interaction between parent and child without being distracted by others.

  6. Parents need to insist that their child engage in pretend play with other children that involves the printed word, like playing post office, or school, or office with play materials that are literacy-based. A play office can be created out of simple household objects like a box filled with memos, old mail, old magazines, forms, coupons etc.

  7. Continue reading to your child after he learns to read. In this way he will have the opportunity to enjoy stories beyond his own reading level.

Ask Dr. Susan