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Improving reading skills is critical since reading below grade level has a negative impact on a child’s entire educational experience.
As a child progresses through school, the importance of reading comprehension increases. Failure to read on grade level makes it difficult for the student to read and understand science, health, and history textbooks. In addition, the child begins to have problems reading test questions and even word problems in math.
The impact of poor reading skills will be felt throughout high school and their entire academic career. This is why it is extremely vital to improve reading skills as soon as possible and to continue with reading intervention until the problem is solved.
Determining a Child’s Reading Level
In order to improve a student’s reading level, parents should first determine at what level their child can read successfully. This is easier than it sounds. Parents can go to the library and browse through the books. Once they find a few books that look interesting to their child, they can open up the book to the middle and have the child read the page. If the student misses more than five words on the entire page, then they should pick an easier book.
Parents should be cautious not to insult their children by picking books that appear too juvenile. Librarians can help with this issue. They can point out books that are highly interesting to older students who have low reading levels. These books are commonly referred to as “high interest/low reading level books”.
Parent and Child Reading Together
Once parents have located appropriate reading material, they should make a commitment to read with their child daily. The amount of time can vary depending on the age and attention span of the child. Fifteen minutes to an hour is the general range for most students.
For students requiring more intense intervention, parents may choose to read for 15 to 30 minutes and then take a break before resuming another 15- to 30-minute reading session. A key aspect of the success of this strategy is to make the time spent with the child enjoyable. Special rewards for finishing a book or reading well can be offered as incentives.
Creating a Love for Reading
Parents should read to their children, as well as, read with their children. When parents read to their children, they can dramatize the story and make it come alive to the listener. Reading a wide variety of stories increases the likelihood that the parent will discover something that fascinates the child. Some children are enthralled by mysteries. For others, it may be a story about a horse or a dog that captivates them and encourages them to read on their own.
Parents can order books on tape. This will help children realize the wonderful journeys and adventures that books can provide. This resource also allows them to experience the same books that their friends are reading, despite their reading level. For example, a student may hear the other students in class commenting on books by Judy Blume or Tolkien. By ordering the books on tape, the child can enjoy the same story as their friends.
Learning Academic Material While Reading Comprehension Skills are Improving
As the child’s reading skills are being addressed and are improving, it is important that the student continues to learn the material presented in other classes such as science, health, and social studies. Here are a few strategies to help:
- While the parent is reading the chapter with the child, the session can be taped. Afterwards, the child can listen to the chapter over and over again. This will help the parent utilize their time more efficiently and enable the child to learn more independently.
- Ask about the possibility of test questions being read orally to the student. This is often considered acceptable for all subjects except for language arts. Since a math test is designed to test math skills and problem-solving abilities, teachers will often read the word problems on a test to the student.
Activities Kids Can Do to Improve Reading Skills
Improve a child’s reading skills and reading comprehension by first determining the appropriate reading level of the student. An appropriate book is one that the student can read without missing more than five words per page. Start off with books that are not too challenging. Otherwise, the reader will become frustrated.
Visit the Library
Children shouldnít think of libraries only as dull or scary places with scowling librarians and dusty books. Today, libraries offer all sorts of reading activities geared toward children, from story hours to literacy lessons and holiday-themed activity days. Having a weekly trip to the library can get children used to scanning shelves and looking for their favourite authors or subjects.
Reading activities that use rhyming words are a good way to increase vocabulary children can easily memorize their favourite poems and songs. Create activities with nursery rhymes so kids have to guess the rhyming word, and have them make up their own nursery rhymes with famous characters like Humpty Dumpty and Georgie Porgie. Children will feel more engaged with the material if they already know the story. Go one further with your next nursery rhyme by introducing them to stories from other cultures, such as Hans Christian Andersen.
Storytime is a tried and tested formula for fostering a love of books in kids. Every day, parents should read aloud to their kids for an hour or so. Try to leave each session on a cliffhanger so the kids are bursting to know what happens next and look forward to the next storytime. Gradually allow the kids to get more involved, choosing the next book they want the parent to read and maybe even following along with their own copy of the book. As the child grows, they soon will be able to read to the parents.
Reading games encourage children to develop literacy skills and a love of reading in a fun environment. These games should involve putting words in sequence, comprehending complex information, listening attentively, and communicating written ideas into pictures or gestures. For an in-class activity, split the kids into small groups and give them index cards with actions from the story on them. Have the students work together to put the cards in the order of the events that happened in the story.
Reading skills are necessary for success in all subject matters. A child who struggles with reading early on is likely to stay behind and dislike reading. Helping your child improve her reading skills sets her up for success throughout school.