Third grade is the year kids are expected to go from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? As if by spending enough days sitting at their desks, third graders will magically make the switch. For most kids, though, the change from learning how to read to reading to learn can be very difficult.

To help your child make this big change in reading, by all means, keep reading to him, and having him read aloud or by himself. But there’s one more way to help your child read to learn that may come as a surprise: Talk with him! Have conversations full of all kinds of words (he’s not a baby anymore, so don’t hold back on using big words conversations that build vocabulary than by focusing on decoding strategies.

So to make sure your child doesn’t fall behind when it comes to reading to learn: 1) Read challenging books aloud to him; 2) Use words he doesn’t know; 3) Talk about big topics like what’s going on in the world, history, or whatever he’s interested in, whether that’s sports or space rockets or animals.