School looks really different this year, but the fact still remains: children who are not reading at grade level by 3rd grade have a more difficult time catching up. This can effect kids long after 3rd grade. We’re here to help shed some light on what goes in to helping a child learn to read, so no matter where your children are learning this year, you are prepared to help them grow their reading skills.
Write & Draw Together
Squiggles are fine! No matter what your children are writing and drawing, the act itself is preparing them for understanding shapes and the written word. Ask your children to explain their drawings to you and demonstrate by explaining what you write to them.
As we start reading, we begin by sounding out the letters as we see them. But there are certain words, that are very common, which don’t follow regular patterns of sounds. So it’s really difficult to figure them out. These words must be memorized in order for kids to read with fluency. When we know the sight words, we can almost skip over them and focus on sounding out more complicated vocabulary.
This aspect of reading can feel kind of overwhelming to parents, because it focuses on memorization. A lot of sight words work is about drilling and reinforcing very simple words, and that can feel tedious. If you would like to start working on sight words at home, there are a ton of free resources online for helping teach sight words, and we at the library are happy to help you find resources that work for your situation. If your child is currently in school, their teacher is likely already working with them on sight words, so it’s helpful to follow along and reinforce what they are already learning.
Sounds are the building blocks of our language. Kids benefit from understanding all of the different aspects of sounds. An awesome way for you to promote that understanding is through songs. Songs help kids recognize rhythm and rhyme and expose them to broader vocabulary in the process. Sing together and help them learn the lyrics to songs they enjoy. Who doesn’t love music?
How does a book work?
There are some things that we as adults can take for granted that actually feel pretty foreign to children. One of those things is how a book works– the cover, the title page, the author/illustrator, etc. An expert reader knows what direction to flip the pages, how to find the first page of a story, and how chapters work. They can learn those things by watching you, and you can also highlight these things as you read.
My favorite way to work on this with young kids is to read books to them in a “silly way”– try to read the book upside down or backwards and ask them why this book isn’t working. I will also have kids flip the pages themselves, even if they are too young to read the book themselves. Each of these things builds familiarity with books, and makes them more secure in trying to read on their own.
This is where the library can be an important partner. We have enough books to keep your family stocked up as they grow in their reading skills. Even though the library building is currently closed, we will help pick out books for you. Want 20 sports books for a kindergartner? Does your 3rd grader want a new series to dig in to? We can find all of these and more and pack it up for curbside pickup.
If you want to fill out our book recommendation form, we will select and put books on hold that align with you/your child’s interests. Otherwise, just give us a call!
If you still want more opportunities for your child to practice reading this year, sign them up for our online reading buddies program. Kids meet weekly online with select teen volunteers to practice reading and play literacy games facilitated by library staff. It’s a great way for your kids to get individualized attention and support for reading.