The single best thing you can do as a parent to aid in the education of your child is read to them. The hours that your child spends sitting on your lap or snuggled up next to you on the couch listening to a book will make a difference for YEARS to come. Children need to hear how good readers read. Then need to hear the inflection in a readers voice, how the reader takes a breath at a period and the voice goes up at a question mark. These are all skills you are teaching your child just by sharing a book. Not to mention you are setting an example for a lifetime of enjoyment. A child can go ANYWHERE in a book. A child can be transported to the moon or back in time through the pages in a book. Just-Right books at the first grade level can make simple acts like going to the grocery store with mom a WILD adventure.
Books for young children need to be experienced, not just read. Comprehension of text comes from discussion about the books. Comprehension is the key and IS reading! Simply being able to read the words on a page but not understand any of what was just read is "word calling" and NOT reading. Children who can read can:
As you are reading with your child, stop and discuss the pictures. What are the characters doing, feeling? Does more of the story happen in the pictures? Before turning the page make predictions about what might happen next in the story. Discussion around text is the key to comprehension.
Books used in my first grade are leveled A-M. This is the text range for children kindergarten through the end of second grade. Reading is a developmental skill and while we as educators have targets, some children develop at different rates. The most important thing is that your child is making progress. Their sight word vocabulary should be growing by the day, he/she should be learning new skills to attack unknown words and using the skills as the text gets longer. Tricks to attack unknown words are:
- look at the first letter of the word and get your mouth ready
- sound out the word
- look for chunks in the word you know
- look at the pictures, what word would make sense
- skip the word and go on to the end of the sentence - "what could it be now"?
These are all strategies I use with the children during guided reading time. It is VERY hard not to just give our children the word when they come to one they do not know - but don't! Good readers, even experienced readers come upon words they do not know and we have to use strategies to figure them out.
I am bias when it comes to reading on several different levels. I did not learn to read until the second grade and I know first hand what it is like to stare at a page full of print and know all of those words are supposed to mean something and not have a clue what it is. I NEVER want a Krile Kid to feel the anxiety I did over text. I make a priority everyday to share a great book with my students and the sheer joy of reading so that they too will fall in love with the experience. Go curl up with your child and share in that magic!!
Happy Reading!! :)