Parents are invaluable partners in the reading process. Since your children’s
earliest days, you have been reading stories aloud, engaging in meaningful
conversations, and singing songs to your children. These simple activities help
children develop oral language, an important precursor to reading.
To support your emerging readers, please provide many opportunities to practice
oral language. You may consider the following:
I Remember When… – You may engage in storytelling by recalling childhood
memories. When you are driving to the supermarket, recall a time when you
went to a supermarket as a child. It could be as simple as buying a Hostess
cupcake for the first time. Then ask your children about an experience that they
have had at a supermarket. This type of activity helps children learn vocabulary,
activate prior knowledge, and classify information.
Remembering simple trips to Grandma’s house, the beach, or a park can
become special moments from which to share and learn.
The Waiting Room – Keeping youngsters occupied in a waiting room may cause
some anxiety. Why not browse through the pictures in magazines with your
children, naming objects or creating stories about the “lady mopping the floor” in
an advertisement? You may count the number of cats or dogs that are found
among the pages, or find the color red (green, blue…) on five pages. These little
games help to amuse your children while developing visual discrimination and a
sense of imagination.
As children acquire oral language, they must learn to hear, identify, and
manipulate sounds. This is called phonemic awareness. Rhyming words is an
important step in this phase.
Consider the following:
Chant Nursery Rhymes- “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe” “Rub a Dub Dub”
”Hickory, Dickory Dock” “Little Miss Muffet”
“Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” “Humpty Dumpty”
Silly Phrases – Make up silly sentences leaving off the last word to rhyme.
For example: Pat sat on a __________. (mat, cat, bat)
I saw a bee in the ________. (tree, pea, sea)
Dan carried a big ________. (man, fan. can)
Today I would like to ______. (play, lay, pay)
As children begin to discriminate sounds, they learn to match letters with the
sounds that are heard. This skill falls under the heading of phonics. Teachers
introduce many words during phonics lessons. Word families are often sent
home for practice.
Consider the following:
Alphabet Books – Read alphabet books to and with your children. Then create
one of your own. You can create a variety of books based on themes, such as
the following: The A- Z Zoo Book Billy’s Room From A-Z
Sarah’s Silly A-Z Book The A-Z Book of Fruits & Vegetables
Grocery List – Ask your children to help you write your grocery list. Name items
that you would like to buy aloud. Together, stretch out the sounds of the words
as you write them down. Take turns writing and stretching.
Parents can help children develop rich vocabulary. At their age, young readers
use picture clues and context clues to figure out what an unfamiliar word means.
Here are five research-based activities that can help children expand their
Consider the following:
High-Frequency Word Practice – Each primary classroom assigns a list of
words that do not fit a pattern and cannot be “sounded out.” However, these
words must be “learned” as they appear in stories and text quite frequently.
These words are called “High-Frequency Words.” Using index cards, make a
deck of cards with these words. On one side draw and color a design; and on
the other side, print the words. Two cards should be created for each word to
create a pair. Use your “new” deck of cards to play “Go Fish.”
What Do You See? – When you are at a restaurant, ball field, or supermarket,
play a game of What Do You See? by describing an item within eyesight. Three
or four clues can be given before children are asked to respond. If the item has a
synonym, confirm the child’s response and offer the alternate term. For example,
you may say the following, “Yes, that is a couch, and you can also call it a sofa.”
Children must begin to build fluency as they learn to read. Fluency is reading
with expression, accuracy, and speed. Nursery Rhymes that are familiar may be
read together, pausing at commas, changing the tone of your voices to reflect the
characters or meaning.
Read Alouds – Reading to or with your children is the best was to model fluency
at home. A natural pace is recommended as speed reading often interferes with
comprehension. Have fun taking turns as you read together.
Comprehension is the whole purpose of reading. We must understand what we
“read” or we are merely word callers. You can help your children think about
what they read by simply “thinking aloud” while you read to them.
I Wonders – As you read to your children, think aloud by saying, “I wonder why
(the character) said…,” or “I wonder why (the author)…” This type of modeling
will let your children know that the written text often makes the reader stop and
think and question.
Predicting – Take a “picture walk” through the book and predict what you think
may happen based on the pictures alone. Does the title give a clue to the story
line? Make predictions, then confirm or correct your guesses as the story unfolds.
(A “picture walk” is simply looking through the pictures of the book before actually reading the text.
In primary reading books, many picture clues are provided to support young readers. Make good
use of them!)