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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Teacher Tip: Reading Like a Champ

It's summertime!  The time when the kids can sleep late, play on the Wii until they start bouncing around like Mario and Luigi, eat enough to feed third world countries, and annoy the living heck out of each other.  In all of this madness, we, the well-meaning moms, are just mean enough to require them to fit in some quality reading time.  My kids must be mutants because they love reading time.  In all fairness, I taught reading to 2nd grade for quite a few years and know all the tricks to make this happen.  They also come from me, the nerd who once missed her bus-stop and traveled to the next little town because I was enthralled in a good book (Charlotte's Web).  I thought you might like to know some tricks.

This blog is geared more toward the child who needs a little more help in their reading comprehension.  If your child comprehends just fine and soars as a reader, all you need is to share the reading time with them.  Read with them.  For example, Mr. Popper's Penguin will be in theatres this month.  We all read this story together last week.  My oldest whizzed through it alone, but my 7-year-old preferred that I read it with her.  They had fun, and we can't wait for the movie.

Now, for the tips. 

1. Find what they like.
Go to the library and see what genre they like best, or find an author they like.  Girls tend to like fiction more, boys tend to like non-fiction more.  If they don't like their book, let them get another.  They need to know that people don't always like every book they pick up, and that's okay.  They think that THEY don't like the book because they don't like to read.  (Books they could later watch as movies are great.)

2.  Read with them.
If your child is of elementary age, they are never to old to be read to, especially if they are struggling. You CAN read with your fourth grader.  It's called shared reading.  You read, I read, you read, I read.  Take turns.  They love the attention, and it helps when they hear a good reader read.  Remember to use expression.  (If you're going to fly through a book devoiding it of all meaning, don't waste your time...sorry so harsh)

3. Mess up.
While sharing, make it a point, as the more efficient reader, to mess up, catch your mistake go back and reread.  Kids who struggle think that good readers don't mess up.  Tell them there are times you read a whole page and have to reread.  They think that doesn't happen, too. 
(Struggling readers will read, mess up, and not reread, making the story impossible to understand.  They may not even realize they skipped 2 lines because they are only reading words and not a story.  When your child finally stops and rereads, it is a milestone.  Acknowledge it, but be cool about it.)

4. Make it real
If the story is about a dog who eats a slipper, talk about the time your dog did something he shouldn't have.  Relating the story to real-life helps them to remember it.  It's okay to talk about something else while you're reading, and go back to the story.

5. Ask questions at opportune times (when you're not stopping the flow of the story).
This is the most important one.  Never ask any question that can be answered with yes or no.  Ask questions that require thought and were not stated by the author.  How do you think that made him feel?  Why do you think her friend is so angry?  What do you think she should do next?  Do you think she will do that next?  Why do you think he wants to go there so badly?  How do you know?  What would you do if it were you?
These go along with the skill of drawing conclusions and inferencing (figuring out things that the author meant but didn't say).  These are the skills that kids struggle the most with.  Think of when you go see a movie.  As the plot unfolds you try to guess what will happen next, you feel what the characters feel, you try to guess the ending.  Bring those questions to the story being read.

I guess that's all I have for now.  I could go on and on, but these are the most important.  So, Go! out of this heat.  :)


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