Reading is the common denominator in all education. In order to learn about other areas, a child must first learn to read — a very complex process. This is why so much education time is spent on phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. More than 80% of Americans 16 and older say they read at least occasionally for pleasure (Pew Internet and American Life Project), and we want to impart that to our students, too. Parents can help strengthen the emotional ties to reading as a fun activity, and the active involvement of parents has been shown to have a positive effect on reading progress.
At Green Hedges School, developing reading skills is a focus from Montessori through Grade 8. Beginning with sandpaper letters traced by a 3-year-old and continuing through the study of classics such as Canterbury Tales and Julius Caesar, our students acquire and hone reading and comprehension skills. All grades have designated library time during which students can select books to take home for recreational reading or to support research necessary to an assignment.
We also introduce analysis skills. In many grades, students use books from their classroom libraries for book circle discussions guided by their teacher. While they share their reactions to the story and explore themes and ideas presented by the author, they are also gaining writer’s tools which they can then employ in their own writing. Our teachers also benefit from having the Great Books series in their classrooms. This series is one of several resources which promotes critical discussion, and was made possible through Raise The Paddle contributions at a recent Gala-Auction.
Parents sometimes worry about how to support their child as they grow and acquire reading skills. Here are a few ideas, but check the links below for additional ideas.
- Make reading a part of everyday life – have your kids read signs, menus, grocery lists, etc. to build their skills.
- Bring books into your home – either by trips to the bookstore or the library, make sure there are books available to read at your child’s level as it changes.
- Carve out time for reading – set aside a little time each day during which your child can read, or can read with you, depending on their age and skills. This can be before bedtime, or after homework is completed.
- Read yourself – Children model the behavior they see. If they see you reading, they will likely make time for it themselves.
- Stretch their vocabulary – when your child encounters an unfamiliar word, explain its meaning and help them figure out a sentence which uses it in the correct context. You could also ask them to identify three words with similar or opposite meanings.
Summer is a great time to start incorporating these tips into your routine. Each child will receive a green folder at the end of the year which includes summer reading lists. Creating new reading opportunities in the summer could create new habits for the subsequent school year. These steps to build and strengthen your child’s reading skills can pay off in a strong, confident reader at any age.
More tips on developing confident readers can be found here: