So your kids have finally learned to read! This is a magical moment, when all books are exciting, and story time has a whole new meaning. Young children are lit up with excitement at finally mastering the skill of decoding those random letters into comprehensible words. Now what? What can parents do to encourage their children to continue to read and explore the world of literature?
Reading can quickly become less than engaging for a lot of kids, as schools continue to force them to sit and take reading comprehension checks one after another. These multiple choice questions can easily discourage children from reading and even create anxiety for some.
Why Reading at Home is Critical
Even after your kids have tackled the massively difficult task of learning how to read, they need to continue to practice their reading skills at home. As parents, it might seem easier to leave the academic activities such as reading practice for school; however, teachers unintentionally kill the magic of reading for many kids. This loss of excitement for reading is due to the fact that kids from 2nd grade and up are forced to sit and read short, often boring, stories that involve little to no imagination. Then they are subjected to a scrutiny of questions designed to trick or confuse them. This is how standardized tests measure reading comprehension. Even though teachers have the best intentions at heart, this just isn’t the way to encourage little ones to love reading.
Because of this, it is very important that at home parents encourage reading and help them practice reading comprehension in a manner that is engaging. Relevant, fun and imaginative stories can do this. One of the easiest ways to increase reading enjoyment for kids is simply to allow them to read what they want to read. The ability to choose what your read is the first thing kids loose in school. They are told what to read as soon as they step foot into the classroom. So at home they need the choice.
When To Start Reading Comprehension Practice At Home?
Regardless of how old your children are, they should always be practicing reading and comprehension skills. As your kids learn to read, it is important that they begin to think about stories in a critical fashion. Even when listening to stories this is critical. To get them in the practice at an early age, you can simply ask them one to three questions after you read a picture book to them. If parents start this process before kids start to read on their own, it can increase their ability to retain information from stories, which will increase their reading comprehension later on.
The ability to not only read but read well, will increase their academic skills in all grades and in all classes regardless of the subject. Think about it, if you have a child who’s doing really poorly in science class but loves science, it might be their reading skills holding them back.
While English is hardly any kids favorite subject, it’s definitely one of the ones that is a foundation for all other classes and modes of education. You want to make sure that you set your own children up for success. The best way you could do this is to encourage them to read. While there are lots of tools and tutors available, the best way to increase Lexile is simply to encourage kids to read more. Truly, through the act of reading you become a better reader.
What Can You Do At Home to Encourage Reading and Comprehension?
Regardless of how old your kid is encourage them to read every single day. As it has often been said, practice makes perfect. The first step to increasing reading skills and comprehension is to read more often, read regularly, and to think about what you read.
The more you read, the better you get at it. For young kids this might involve parents reading to them every day. The suggested number is one to five books every single day. The older kids get parents can switch the role and have kids reading out loud. Early readers may only be reading one book a day by themselves but they can still listen as parents read more books to them. Even though the act of listening is not reading itself it does promote good literacy and increases vocabulary and comprehension.
After kids have basic reading skills, the hardest jump is moving from short story books or picture books to chapter books. This is often difficult because kids can’t finish the book in one sitting. This is when it becomes important to schedule reading time every day, so they can finish these chapter books before they forget the story. Once you can get your kids into reading chapter books go ahead and encourage them to read at certain times every day. An easy way to do this is to turn the TV off an hour before bed and make it reading time. They can either go to sleep or they can read a book. Just make sure that you encourage them to actually go to sleep and not stay up all night reading!
Listening can Still Increase Comprehension
If your child is less than enthusiastic about actually reading every single day or is not ready to move to chapter books, another thing parents can do is encourage kids to listen to audiobooks. This can be done while doing other actions, such as chores, crafts, in the car, or walking. While audiobooks are not actually reading it still stimulates the brain and increase vocabulary and comprehension. To increase student comprehension of these stories, still ask questions, or have kids talk about the story.
Another option, is to allow kids to listen to audio books while they are reading. This is especially good for kids who are struggling readers. This way when they get to a word they don’t know, or struggle decoding, they can hear the word. This will ultimately increase their reading proficiency, which in turn increases reading comprehension.
So far we have talked about how to encourage kids to read. Reading is one of the major aspects of increasing literacy, however, to increase reading comprehension kids need to think about what they read. Reading alone will not do this. To get kids to start thinking about what they read, parents can simply ask questions about plot, characters, and motivations within the story.
To kick it up a notch, ask kids to write their own reflections on what they read in a journal. Ask them to write down their own thoughts and ideas about the story after they’re done reading. It’s no small fact that writing increases reading skills almost as well as reading does. The more you write the better you read and the more you read the better you write. So encourage diary writing, encourage your kids to think about what they are reading and to write about it.
What should kids write about after reading?
There are many topics kids can write about it increase their reading comprehension and literacy skills. The easiest thing they can do is to write detailed summaries of what they read. Parents should encourage kids to write more details after each entry, to increase their ability to recall information.
It is also important for kids to learn how to think more abstractly about a text. Kids can write about characters, recording who they are, what their motivations are in stories, and how kids feel about these characters on a personal level.
After thinking about summaries and characters, kids can move into recording their their thoughts on how events in stories made them feel. They can make connections between characters, or events, and even try writing some fanfiction. For example, ask your kids to write a story based on a book they are reading, or to rewrite a chapter where they are in the story too! These kids of activities can create a spark for many kids, especially those who are imaginative!
For the kids who are more technologically engaged, ask them to make video journals after they read a story. They can record videos where they talk about what they read, and reflect on how the story made them feel. They can also record themselves telling stories as if they were part of them.
Check out these great writing journals for kids of all ages! These journals are full of comprehension questions and creative writing prompts that will encourage kids to think about what they are reading, and even encourage them to continue to read!