By Peg Tyre
Once your child has figured out how to decode words and can actually read in a sustained way, then a chunk of his schooling should be focused on helping him squeeze meaning and richness out of the experience. You may remember the whole-language ideas about exposing kids to print through fiction, poetry, newspapers, and drama? It is the wrong way to teach kids to read. But getting kids excited about the written word is a great way to turn fledgling readers into voracious readers.
And here's where all parents should step up to the plate. You've been reading to your child, great. Don't stop. Books on tape in the car work, too. But now that she is a reader, surround her with print. Get a newspaper delivered. Get her a library card and make the library a regular stop, like the grocery store and the dry cleaner. And get over your view of what "proper" book reading looks like — fiction, nonfiction, comic books, how-tos, mysteries, sports biographies, magazines about current events, fast cars, sleek airplanes, or video gaming. Open the door wide. Find ways to bring what she is reading into the conversation. Ask questions like: What kind of book is it? What is the setting? What happens? What do you like/not like about the way the author writes?
Similar but more formal versions of this should be happening at school, but parents can reinforce this learning at home. Watch for it. If your child is reading and sampling a wide enough variety of material, he will be encountering a lot of words in print that he doesn't know. He should be able to sound out unfamiliar words. First, encourage him to figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words from their context, for example, what could propulsion mean based on the words that came before and after it? Then, see if he can tease out the meaning of the word by finding its root. For instance, the word propel is hidden in propulsion and gives a strong hint for the meaning of the word.
Teachers help students build comprehension through the systemic study of words. Yes, weekly vocabulary words. Kids who study words — by this I mean systematically learning their meanings — have larger vocabularies but are also better readers. It's not too effective for the teacher to hand out a list of ten words and have kids look them up and then take a test. They need to hear the words, see them, speak them, and write them that week and in the weeks that follow.
Word lists alone, though, aren't enough. Kids encounter an average of three thousand new words a year — more than eight a day. Unless the entire school day is going to be given over to word study (and no one thinks this is a good idea), teachers must instruct children on how to shave off chunks of an unfamiliar word and tease out its meaning by studying suffixes, prefixes, and the meaning of common root words.
Comprehension, fluency, and stamina should be growing steadily stronger as your child moves through school. Schools need to ensure that happens. So do parents. Do your part.
Sign up for our free newsletter and we'll send you
more just like it every week.
Thank you! You will begin to receive newsletters from us shortly.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to complete your registration.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to submit your review.
Please click on the link in the verification email we just sent you to complete your change of email address.
Whoops! It looks like we still need to verify your email. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the e-mail? Click the button below and we'll send you a new one.
Thanks for registering. Welcome to GreatSchools, the largest online community committed to improving educational outcomes through parental involvement.
Thanks for verifying your updated email address.
Oops! You haven't verified your email address yet. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the email? Click the button below to receive a new one.
Oops! That email verification link has expired. Please click the button below to receive a new one.
Create an account to submit your answers.
Sign in with an existing GreatSchools account or using Facebook:
Your review has been posted to GreatSchools.
Share with friends! Post your opinion of on Facebook.
Welcome to GreatSchools!
For principals and school officials, we offer a special Enhanced School Profile (ESP) which allows you to update and add information about your school, as well as respond to reviews. If you are a school official, click Continue to start.
Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for your comment to be posted to our site. While you're here, we'd like to invite you to fill out a survey on your school's programs, activities, and extracurriculars. It only takes a few minutes and will help parents get a full picture of your school.
Get started now! You have successfully registered and can now start updating your Official School Profile. The information you provide is extremely valuable in helping parents and students learn more about your school, so thanks for taking the time!
Thank you for registering as a school leader. We just need to verify your email address. We've sent you an email - please click on the link in that message to get started editing your school's information!
Thanks! We just sent you an email – please click on the link in the email to post your answers.
Get timely updates for , including performance data and recently posted user reviews.