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How to Keep Reading With Your Child

How you can help at home: Support your fourth- or fifth-grader's reading skills by reading aloud, listening to your child read and discussing vocabulary.

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By Karen Heath, Consulting Educator

Reading with Your Child

The most helpful thing you can do with your child is to continue to read with her. Even though she may be an independent reader, reading to your child is very important to:

  • Model fluency and expression for challenging texts
  • Share the experience of reading, which can lead to rich discussions about literature or information
  • Give your child exposure to challenging vocabulary that she might just skim over when reading on her own

Listening to Your Child Read

The second most helpful thing you can do with your child is to listen to her read. As she is reading to you, you should pause frequently to:

  • Monitor fluency and phrasing
  • Clarify anything confusing in the text
  • Make connections (to himself, other texts or the world)
  • Ask questions about the characters, author or plot
  • Make predictions about what might happen next
  • Comment on what you are reading

It is important at this age to go beyond retelling what a story is about, and to help your child to interact with the text in the above ways.

Discussing Vocabulary

At different times of the day (not just when reading) make it a point to discuss vocabulary and encourage use of increasingly sophisticated words, model dictionary use (by looking up words yourself which you do not know), and discuss meanings of prefixes, suffixes and root words, so that your child begins to understand units of meaning within words, (such as un-controll-able).

Karen Heath is an elementary language arts curriculum specialist in Barre, Vermont. She has created and implemented an innovative accelerated language arts program for elementary students in her school. After more than 20 years of teaching, Karen was named Vermont's 2005 Teacher of the Year. She holds a master's degree in education and is the mother of two school-aged children and one child in college.

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