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Get ready for college reading

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By GreatSchools Staff

The college-bound reader: Make sure your student is prepared

What parents can do

You can help your child prepare for college reading by being a good role model, by encouraging him to read and by engaging in discussions about reading material. Here are a few tips:

1. Start now and encourage her to read, read, read.

As your child grows, encourage her to read complex texts, read books on the suggested SAT reading list. Encourage her to spend less time on the phone, on the computer or watching TV, and more time reading. "Take books with you everywhere - in the car, at the doctor's office. Bring along books for yourself and for them," says Suzanne Owen, a California high school English teacher and mother of four.

2. Model good reading habits at home.

Students will learn from what they see their parents doing. Take time to read articles and books together, and discuss what's in them.

3. Spend lots of time in libraries and bookstores.

"Hang out and visit places where books and learning are important. Visit such places on vacations," says Owen. Alice O'Grady, a California high school English teacher and former school librarian, suggests helping your student to learn how to use the library and making sure he is developing good research skills. "Many schools have done away with professional librarians," she notes. "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 doing research in college. Several times I have heard or read from college librarians that students come to the university without research or library skills." Students need to learn how to use the Internet properly when doing research and be discerning about what they find. Google is a great tool, but it's only one small step in the research process.

4. Intervene as soon as you think your child may need extra help.

If you find your child is having difficulty, or other students are having difficulty with reading basics, make sure your school is providing support with a program targeted to a child's needs. Check with a teacher or school counselor to see if your school has a learning center or after-school tutoring program. If necessary, get professional help outside of school. The sooner you address the problem, the better.

5. Make sure your student is taking challenging courses.

Your child will be more likely to succeed in college if he is taking classes in high school that demand research, writing and reading. Look for courses that require a lot of independent work outside of class and that use class time to integrate and build on basic understanding of the material.

6. Set standards for homework.

It's not just about getting the assignments done. Ask your child questions like: Did you understand the assignment? How did you decide to approach this topic? Did you have a chance to read over your essay or check your work?

7. Don't be tempted to do the work for your student.

Be there as a guide. The key to college preparation is to allow your student to accept more and more responsibility for his own success.

8. Ask the principal, teachers and school counselor at your school how the classes your student is taking specifically prepare him for college-level work.

What standards are set in each class? Does the teacher share examples of proficient, college-ready work?

9. Advocate at your school for reading instruction at all levels.

Join with other parents and teachers to find ways to strengthen reading instruction in all high school courses by incorporating complex reading materials into course content.

Comments from readers

"I want to preper my daughter for college she want to be a DENTIST i want her to be ready for it in the nex 2 year "
"I have a question, too, actually. I want to know if a student from a country in Europe, such as Greece or Romania, can apply in 11th grade to a high school in the u.s. in order to have a better chance to be accepted at an university in the u.s. You know, to finish his/her last two years of high school here, knowing that he or she has been studying English at quite a high level. Is this possible? What do they have to do? Do they have the same chance as students who are already in u.s.? I have a friend who has this problem and I really have no idea what to advice her."
"Some school aren't preparing students for college. They don't care about our children. True, parents need to do their part at home with makiing sure they are reinforcing education at home, but what if parents don't know what to do? They didn't go to school to become a teacher. I appreciate any answers to my question. "
"I echo the comment from TN 9/11/06. I read this article specifically to see if speed reading was mentioned. I feel strongly that it should be taught in middle school or high school. Even though I was a strong reader, upon entering college, I was overwhelmed by the volume of reading required. I know I could have achieved much more had I been able to read faster."
"I believe this article (and others like it I have read elsewhere)leaves out a very important point about learning to read fast. Speed reading is a skill that can be most valuable at college when you have hundreds of pages to read to prepare for classes, tests, do research, etc. No one ever mentions it. No one mentioned it to me when I was preparing for college either. I sure could have used some speed reading skills in those days. Todays college bound kids need to know this. It should be emphasized, not ingored."
"Great article, how do we encourage our children to build study groups? I have not heard of any of my child's friends having study groups. "