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Literacy Tips

Dear parents,

 When reading with your son or daughter there are a number of things that you can do to enhance your child’s reading skills.  This applies whether you are simply going over the word list for daily living, or reading a book, a newspaper, or a popular magazine. First, take care not to over-whelm your child.  Attempt only one or two of the ideas that follow, over a week or so. Make it fun.

 When you are reviewing words, cover part of the word and have your son or daughter guess what the rest of the word might be. Alternate the task by covering the last portion and then the first portion of the word, at different sittings.

 When looking at textbooks for the first time, create a game and ask your child to find items in italics/bullets/bold type, ,the glossary, the index, the table of contents, various chapter headings.. etc. As a word becomes fluent start  have him/her attempt to expand the word,  or find a similar word.  For example, ‘ignite‘ could be extended to become ‘ignition‘. You may have to give clues,  ‘ You put your key into this when you start  your car“.  In order to review words that your child has found difficult,  ask him/her to find the same word on the page elsewhere. Or, have your son or daughter make up oral sentences with the words you have studied so that you know he/she understands their meaning. Make up sentences yourself and ask them if you have used the word correctly. 

 Another game you might play while reading is to cover a target word with a sticky note, and then as you read, have your son or daughter guess what 4 words might make sense.  Uncover the word letter by letter and let him/ her revise the guesses.  asking him/her to tell you other words that rhyme or sound exactly the same. Write those words down and have your child copy them, making short lists of rhyming words.

The list below outlines some common reading or decoding strategies. Help your child to:

  1.  look at the illustrations /diagrams for clues related to the story or information contained in the book
  2. seek familiar word endings or patterns (“ion” within “prescription”; “ou“ in “drought” or “spout”; “pre”, “dis” “ment”)
  3.  look for known sounds and combinations  of sounds (ch, st, m, a, e, i, o, u and so on)
  4.  locate small words within larger ones
  5. skip the difficult word to try to understand the meaning by the context of the sentence itself
  6. reread the passage
  7. use a dictionary, thesaurus 
  8. ask for assistance

Your son or daughter can try reading and writing the word, while saying the word aloud. Let him/her write the parts of the words that are the same, using the same coloured pen or pencil, just to emphasize the pattern.

 As you read a book to or with your child,  you can initially cover the words and discuss any diagrams or illustrations, both on the cover and on the pages. Ask your child what he/she sees on the page, and what that might indicate.   For example: What is happening? Are any of the items in the pictures familiar to the child‘s own experiences? Who is in the picture? Where is it happening? What do you think will happen next? Later, when they read the book, you can comment whether their predictions were accurate or not. When you come to a word which could be extended.

For students with very little confidence it is helpful to read the paragraph to them, and then have them read the same passage back to you, or reread it together aloud.  All of the  activities will  help to keep your child engaged in the act of reading, while learning at the same time.

To further discuss your personal approach, please call me at the school, 354-1740.

Self-awareness Reading Checklist

Answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ 

  • I know most of the words in the books I read when I meet them.
  • I can sound out the words in the books that I read, when I need to.
  • I can use the rest of the sentence to sound out the words that I don’t understand.
  • I can understand what I read.
  • I use what I already know to help me understand what I read.
  • I can ‘read between the lines’ to tell what a writer is trying to say.
  • I think about what I read and what it really means to me.
  • I can find the main idea in a paragraph.
  • I can find the important details in a paragraph.
  • I ask myself questions when I read to make sure I understand.
  • I know what is important to remember from reading my textbooks.
  • I know how to use the table of contents, indexes, and glossary of my textbooks.
  • I know how to study for a test.
  • I can use a dictionary to learn how to pronounce new words.
  • I can use the dictionary to learn new word meanings.
  • I can read aloud well, and with good expression.
  • I can change my reading speed depending on my purpose for reading and how hard it is.
  • I can find books I like in my classroom, the school library and the public library.
  • I know how to locate information in a library.
  • I know how to read social studies and science textbooks as well as math verbal problems.

Reluctant Readers

If your child shows little interest in reading then observe the types of things that he/she does like, and try to adapt your approach to include those areas. Excellent places to start might include:

  • Comic books
  • Instruction books for computer games
  • Recipes
  • ‘How to’ manuals
  • Hot rod, fashion or sports magazines and internet sites
  • And especially the Driver’s  Manual if you have teens wishing to get a driver’s license.