We have all been through some challenging times in education. Hopefully, this school year will be uneventful, and we can slowly but surely get back to normalcy.
One of the things parents have shared is how much they learned about their child’s education during school closure because it forced them to be more involved due to virtual instruction being the only option. Parents are expressing more interest in being involved in supporting their children.
School leaders and teachers must capitalize on this opportunity to engage and involve parents in school activities and their child’s school-to-home connection through homework or suggested enrichment activities. We all know the importance of establishing great reading habits, especially in the early primary grades, where children learn to read so that when they transition to third grade, they are reading to learn at proficient and advanced levels.
Research shows that becoming a well-rounded reader enables children to be more successful throughout their grade school years and beyond. If you want your students to thrive in your classroom and become proficient readers who love and enjoy reading, you must include parents as partners.
It’s not enough to teach children to read during school; they need more opportunities to practice and master core foundational reading skills. To truly help children become avid readers for life, you will need the support of their parents to help them practice good reading habits at home.
Most parents are excited and eager to help their children learn to read. However, they don’t always feel prepared or confident about teaching specific reading skills. Some parents may not know how to support their children at home. This is where school leaders and teachers come in; you must provide parents with opportunities to attend workshops, send home some how-to-videos for them to watch at their convenience, and, most importantly, always provide specific suggestions that parents can do to support homework completion.
Don’t just offer a vague assignment such as, “Please read with your child at home.” Often, parents won’t follow through with such generalized suggestions. It is better to give parents specific ideas on how they can help their child be successful with reading at home.
Here are four ideas to suggest to your student’s parents to help them establish good reading habits:
1. Introduce Children to the Library
Take your child to the local library and explore the children’s department. The first time a child steps into this treasure trove of information can be the start of a magical reading journey.
If you aren’t sure where to find “just right” books, speak to one of the helpful librarians who can direct you to some age-appropriate reads for your children. Teachers should also send home a list of books children in the class enjoy reading; this allows students to reread the book with their parents.
2. Share Your Favorite Children’s Books
There’s nothing like forging a bond with your child over a beloved book. A great suggestion to parents is to have them share their favorite childhood books, so their children will see how much they love reading. Parents can look for their favorite childhood story in the library, purchase a new or used copy on Amazon, or you may have a copy in their classroom that they can borrow.
Parents should be encouraged to share their thoughts and emotions that they experienced as a child. They can share which parts of the story ignited their imagination, ask them questions, predict the story’s ending, or provide a different viewpoint or better understanding of the world around them. Children love to hear about their parents’ childhood stories.
3. How Can Reading Become a Daily Routine at Home?
One of the best ways to help beginning and emergent readers is to support their parents by establishing daily reading routines and rituals after school. For example, parents can implement sharing a story after dinner or as part of their bedtime routine. This helps parents and their children build good reading habits. Their children will know that they must do the following every night.
- Take a bath and put on my pajamas.
- Brush my teeth.
- Pick my favorite book or reread a book they enjoyed in school with their parents.
- Get in bed to listen and read with their parents before going to sleep.
Children thrive on routine, so building reading into their child’s daily routine at home is a win-win. Also, if parents read with their child right at bedtime, they will drift off to sleep with the story in their head, which is great for their developing brain.
Keep in mind reading daily for any amount of time is beneficial. Even if parents only have ten minutes to devote to it, ten minutes over seven days adds up to over an hour of reading time at home per week!
4. What Questions Can Parents Ask to Develop Comprehension Skills?
Comprehension skills are usually one of the areas that parents are eager to support. You can share specific reading comprehension strategies, such as asking questions when they read with their child at home. You could share these four universal questions, and they can be used with any book.
- What do you think will happen next?
- How does (this part of the story) make you feel? Happy? Sad? Mad?
- What did you think about the end of the story?
- If you were to write a different ending, what would it be?
Asking questions such as these ensures your child is not just consuming the story but also thinking about the content and developing the critical comprehension skills necessary for any reader.
With two years of school closure, we must mitigate some of the learning loss children experience in the early grades to ensure they do not become at-risk readers in the upper grades. As we move forward this school year, parents as partners are the only way to go. This two-pronged approach ensures that no child is left behind in reading.