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September 1, 2015

5 at-home reading strategies guaranteed to improve reading skills

Consistent adult support at home is a key contributor to a child’s educational success. Teachers can provide a wealth of materials for students, but if parental support is absent at home, children may not develop a positive attitude toward learning. Reading is one skill in particular where at-home support is vital for healthy progression. Studies show that in classrooms where parent involvement is low, the average reading score is 46 points below the national average.

Here are some at-home strategies to improve kids’ reading skills.

1. Model a positive reading experience: Like any other behavior, modeling is the first step to getting kids interested in and excited about reading. Let your kids see you reading the newspaper every morning or a novel before bed. Especially at an early age, kids are very receptive to replicating positive behaviors displayed by their parents. When a child sees that a parent has a positive relationship with reading, it signals that reading can be a fun and enjoyable experience, and will in turn encourage them to read on their own.

2. Set aside designated reading-together time: Reading with your child should be a regular occurrence that your child looks forward to each day. One-on-one, individualized attention is highly effective, and demonstrates to a child that reading is important. Some specific tactics can be used during this reading time to help kids learn to read on their own. Pointing at the words as you read them can help very young readers understand the reading process. They will see that reading goes from left to right and can help them make connections between the words they hear and see.

3. Fill your home with books: Studies show having a library at home is linked to higher standardized test scores. Particularly for families in low-resource communities, having books at home can create a positive learning environment. Neighborhood garage sales and thrift stores are great and inexpensive options to build a child’s library. It is important to fill at-home libraries with a diverse selection of books: fiction and nonfiction, paperback and hardback, books for pleasure and informational books. By exposing children to an array of books, their scope of interests and understanding will expand. Parents will see an increase in curiosity and enthusiasm about new topics.

4. Support and encourage the learning process: Learning to read can be a difficult process for some children. It’s important to create a safe environment in your home where children feel like they can make mistakes and learn from them. Show your support in all reading activities your child takes on. Help them sound out words they may not know, and reassure them if they make mistakes. Building up confidence can be a key factor in establishing a positive relationship with reading. The more confident a child is in his or her reading ability, the more likely they are to build up a lifelong love of reading.

5. Make reading part of daily life: It’s important for children to understand that reading is a part of everyday life, not just something we do for school. Read the back of cereal boxes together in the mornings, or ask your child to read road signs aloud to you. Exposing your children to these other types of reading not only gives them frequent practice, but also expands their vocabularies. You can also write daily notes to your child and encourage them to write one back to you. These fun tactics can show your child that reading is a diverse skill that everyone needs.

These at-home strategies are highly effective for children learning how to read. Literacy skills are foundational for all other kinds of learning. Students must be able to read to further their education and expand vocabulary. Learning how to read can unlock opportunities in all other aspects of life.

Parental involvement is one of the most important influences on kids in developing strong literacy skills and a positive learning attitude that will last a lifetime.

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