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10 ways to help your child with knowledge

Easy tips for revving up this essential reading skill.

By Patti Constantakis

1. Have a rich variety of books and reading materials in your home including fiction/non-fiction, magazines, comics, newspapers, computer, etc.

2. Make sure you include non-fiction books in your daily reading routine.

3. Consider your child's interests when selecting reading materials. Whether your child is interested in animals, dance, the lives of artists or athletes, foreign countries, sports, or robots, finding books that match his interest will boost his enthusiasm for reading.

4. Ask questions before reading a new book. For example, ask your child "what do you already know about spiders?" Look at the cover and table of contents. "What do you think you will learn in this book?"

5. Practice using the table of contents and index to find information in books. This will help build research skills your child will need in later grades. 

6. Pay attention to new words to help your child build vocabulary. Have your child look new words up in a dictionary. Talk about what the new word means, and how to use it.

7. Play the “I am thinking” game. Say: “I am thinking of something new I learned in this book. What am I thinking about?” Continue to give simple clues until your child finds the answer.

8. Ask open-ended questions to get your child to supply more than one word answers. Instead of asking, "Did you like this book?" ask your child, "What did you like about this book? What didn't you like?" Questions that begin with why or how usually yield good answers.

9. After reading, ask your child, "What is something new you learned?"

10. When reading a book with your child, take the time to seek out other sources — a dictionary, encyclopedia, or the internet, for example — to answer your child's questions, look up new words, or learn more about a subject that piques your child's interest.

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