My experiences as a creative person, tutor of children, and teacher of creative writing

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Reading Together

I have found that one of the most effective and least stressful ways to improve a child's reading ability is to read together. Reading with the child helps the child learn words in context, increases sight words and vocabulary, helps them learn the patterns of language and stories, and is fun!

Once I tutored a girl who was not up to her third grade reading level. After reading together for several months, she was reading at a sixth grade level! Reading with a child is one of the most effective ways I know to not only help children learn to read, but to love reading.

Reading Together
  • Make sure you have a book the child will enjoy. 
  • Change to a new story if it isn't working.
  • The child and I sit beside each other, so the child can read along while I read.
  • The child gets to hold the book when they read, if they want. (helps them feel more in control)
  • If the child is just a beginning reader, then choose a short book with fairly large print and allow the child to read "their words".  You can have their words on a card in front of them such as "run" or "no" to remind them.  Start with just one or two words and build up until they are reading the story to you. Make sure you read something that has lots of "their words".
  • For older children, I choose some part of the story for the child to read. 
  • I increase the amount the child reads as they become able to read more without becoming frustrated or discouraged.
  • They might read one character's part, then increase to reading two or three parts, and maybe the narration, so that eventually I'm just reading a small part of the story. If there isn't dialog, then I have them read the first paragraph, or every third paragraph or more. 
  • I don't have them just read to me because they get nervous and overwhelmed by the size of the story.
  • Having the child read parts helps them focus on the story instead of feeling nervous as they read out loud. Use different voices. Have fun!
  • Generally, young boys will not like to read a "girl's" part. 
  • Reading parts also keeps the child's attention focused on the reading.
  • I expect them to keep the story going and not expect me to show them when they are to read. 
  • Keep it relaxed. Don't pressure the child to "read it again until they get it right". 
  • Often, I comment on the reading. "That sure surprised me!" I ask questions, "What do you think is going to happen?"
  • I help them get involved in the story. I may ask what they think about the character, or about what just happened. I allow them to share their feelings, and their similar experiences. 
  • The idea is to enjoy reading together, not just drill skills into them. 
  • Some children (right brained athletic or creative children) may never be able to read well out loud. If their comprehension is good, don't worry. I read wonderfully silently, but not out loud. 
  • Generally, I just quietly say the word the child doesn't know. If they have to "sound out" much, they can become discouraged. I might prompt with the beginning sound.
  • As we read, I rephrase any new word in simple terms. By the time they have finished a good sized book, they will have greatly increased their vocabulary. After I have explained the word several times, I may ask them what the word means when we come upon it as we read. 
  • Sometimes I put new vocabulary words on a card and the definition on another card and have the child play matching games
  • When the child is excited about the story, they will improve in their reading ability. 
  • I've found that a lot of the problems with learning to read are emotional-- the child becomes discouraged and doesn't try anymore. When the child is relaxed and the focus is on the story, not on them, their reading often quickly improves.