Try to read to and with your child every day. You can do "shared reading" in a number of ways (Rief, 1998, 2001):
• Take turns reading the paragraphs or pages. For example, you read the pages on the left of the book, and your child reads the pages on the right.
• Read together in unison with your child, with you as the lead reader running your finger under the words.
• Try the following technique:
First, read a portion of the text ranging from a sentence or two to an entire paragraph.
Read at a normal rate while moving your finger smoothly under the words as your son or daughter watches.
Then read the same sentences or paragraph together while continuing to point to the words. Finally, your child reads the same sentence or passage alone, as you listen and support with difficult words, as needed.
When listening to your son or daughter read, do not stop to correct or make your child sound out every single word. Coach your child in using different "cueing strategies." For example, when approaching a tricky word that your child cannot figure out, prompt to pass over that word and read to the end of the sentence. Then see if your child can go back and figure out the unfamiliar word. Ask questions such as:
"Does that make sense?"
"Did that sound right to you?"
"What other word beginning with that sound would make sense here?"
If your child has the tendency to forget to bring books home from school, causing homework problems, consider purchasing or borrowing another set of books for home use.
Distractible children often lose their place easily while reading. It helps to provide a bookmark to help keep their place. Another strategy is to block the page partially by placing a piece of cardboard, paper, or index card over part of the page. A piece of thin, colored transparent plastic that the words can be read through is another option that may hold some children's attention to the page. Some students may benefit from using a "window box" such as the example below. Any number of variations may work.
On the sample window box, the notches along the sides of the card are different sizes to accommodate different sized print in the book. Students select an appropriate notch and place it at the beginning of each line (sliding it down the left side of the page). Other children may need to place the window box over the page, blocking out the print except for the words that are exposed in the window. They slide the card across the page to reveal a few words at a time. The window opening in the center of the card can be cut to the length and width desired.
Check out books on tape from your local library. If your child is receiving special education services due to reading disabilities, he or she is entitled to a service of being provided books on tape through Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D). Contact them directly or ask your local chapter of the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) for information on how you can apply for this service. (See following text for more information on RFB&D.)
Encourage your son or daughter to read to a younger child and increase the motivation to read by allowing your child to choose material they are interested in.
Struggling readers are easily intimidated by lengthy books with few illustrations. There are wonderful options:
• Picture books that are interesting and appropriate for older children
• Joke and riddle books
• Comic books and magazines
• Reference books with color pictures and short reading passages
• Sheet music with lyrics of favorite songs and poetry
Have your child participate in school book clubs, purchasing inexpensive books of choice on a regular basis. Purchase your child a subscription to a magazine (for example, Sports Illustrated for Kids, Ranger Rick, Cricket). Consult with librarians and children's bookstore employees about popular titles and books that tap into your child's interests.
It often helps to photocopy a chapter/unit from your child's textbook to make it easier to study the text. Encourage your child to color-highlight key information and take notes directly on those photocopied pages. For example, important vocabulary and definitions can be highlighted in one color (for example, yellow); the main ideas can be highlighted another color (for example, orange); and so forth (Rief, 1998).
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