Dad's Playbook: Coaching Children to Read
Be the Best Coach You Can Be!
Every minute you spend reading and talking with your child pays off. But dads can use some simple skills to help their kids be even better readers--like knowing what kinds of questions to ask when you're reading a story together.
Getting in the Game
Reading: Easy as ABC, right?
Most kids learn to talk by talking with other people. They hear--they listen--they speak. Learning to read? That's harder.
Reading doesn't come naturally. You have to learn it. The sticks and circles we call letters are symbols. Basically, letters stand for sounds. In the big picture, they help us communicate when we can't talk face to face. If we couldn't read, we'd never know the wisdom of William Shakespeare, Langston Hughes, or Yogi Berra.
Our alphabet has only 26 letters, but it's one of the most powerful tool kits on the planet. When you put letters together, into syllables, words, sentences, and paragraphs, you get the script for Star Wars, a Martin Luther King speech, The Grapes of Wrath, a letter, or instructions for how to build a tricycle.
Reading lets us into the whole world. It gets us in the game. Reading is power. And, let's face it, good readers make more money.
Teaching someone to read is complex. But while teachers are doing their thing in the classroom, parents can do things to make time with their children pay off in big ways.
Reading with your child every day certainly helps, whether it's a book, a street sign, or a cereal box. But researchers have found that parents can help even more by building five skills that kids need to become readers.
Third Grade: Why is it so important?
Educators have discovered that if a child can't read fluently by the end of third grade, he may not become a strong reader. And the road ahead will be much more difficult.
"In fourth grade, students start using their reading skills as a tool for learning other things," said Dr. Sandra Baxter, director of the National Institute for Literacy. "They have to read well because the subjects get harder. Teachers have less time to help kids catch up on reading skills they don't have."
That's why parents need to stay in constant touch with their children's day care providers and teachers from kindergarten through grade three. It's important to make sure that children's reading skills are developing "on schedule."
In fact, research has shown that children who aren't strong readers by the end of third grade are more likely to drop out of school later on. "We should all pay attention to that," said Dr. Baxter. "Fortunately, the research has also shown us the best ways to teach reading, and how parents can make a big difference in helping their children learn to read."
Reprinted with the permission of the National Institute for Literacy.
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