Middle and High School Reading: Tips From the Pros

Teachers and literacy coaches give timely advice on preparing your child for higher level reading.

By GreatSchools Staff

Who knows better than teachers and literacy coaches what students need to succeed in middle and high school reading? These valuable tips are sure to help your student moving up to middle and high school.

Advice for Parents From Teachers and Literacy Coaches

High school teacher Lance Balla suggests the following:

1. Understand what kind of learner your child is.

Does he need silence to concentrate? Then make sure the TV is not on when he is studying. Provide an appropriate learning environment at home.

2. Stay engaged with your child and her teachers.

Be proactive. Don't wait until the first report card. Make sure you know what is expected of your child and that he is meeting the teacher's expectations. If you wait for the report card, it may be too late. If your school has an online grading system that you can access, make sure you log on frequently to see how your child is doing.

3. Create a college-going culture at home.

Emphasize that you expect your child will go to college.

4. Model good reading habits.

If your child sees you reading, then he will be more likely to become a reader, too.

Suzanne Owen, English teacher, literacy coach and mother of four in Antioch, CA suggests these tips:

1. Subscribe to a newspaper and encourage your children to read it.

This is so important for students, especially now with so much information only available in sound bites and on the web. Newspapers provide more detail and background, and help make connections between what appear to be disparate bits of info. Also, reading the paper enhances comprehension in several expository genres.

2. Visit places where books and learning are important - libraries, used and new bookstores.

(Visit them on vacations, too.)

3. Talk to your kids about what they are learning.

You don't need to them about about grades, just actual content.

4. Encourage reading everywhere.

Bring along books in the car, at the doctor's office, etc.

5. Get them reading the classics.

If the middle school novels they read in class are weak choices (as they often are), get them classics and read with them, especially older books with more complex sentence structure. Try A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, or Robinson Crusoe by Daniel DeFoe.

Alice O'Grady, a California high school English teacher and former school librarian, recommends teaching your child library and research skills:

"One way to prepare middle-schoolers for reading is to teach them how to use the library. Parents can arrange to do this at their local public library since so many schools have done away with professional librarians at the schools. (Just ask the librarian or another staff member to show you how; they are usually happy to do it.) Students should know how to find books that they enjoy, and they can independently search for subjects, keywords or authors they have read before. Empowering them to learn to do simple research will help them when it comes to do research in college. Several times I have heard or read from college librarians that students come to the university without research or library skills. Middle school is a great time to start, if they haven't already learned."

Laura Hendrick, a literacy coach in Santa Rosa, CA advises:

"Kids may try to push you away in middle school but they still need you. Be firm; establish accountability measures. I haven't seen a case where a student didn't need parental support in middle school both academically and emotionally."