Helping Parents Help Their Student

  • Aug. 1, 2017, 3:55 p.m.

We all aspire to have parents who work with their children at home on academic material. Many parents, like my neighbor, are eager to work with their children outside of school, but do not know how or what to do. It's our job as educators to give parents feedback on their child's performance and follow that up with specific ways to practice at home. Here are 5 things to establish with parents early on.

1. Make Sure Students Take Home "Just Right" Books Make sure that students go home with books at their independent level. Taking home a difficult text causes unnecessary stress and frustration. Teach students what makes a book too hard or too easy. Children will not fall in love with reading if they are not successful. Give parents guidelines to determine whether a text is appropriate or not. Tell them that If there are more than one or two words per page that are not known, the book is too hard.

2. Provide Parents with Activities and Questions to Ask Before, During, and After Reading Comprehension is the goal of reading. Good readers not only have to read the words smoothly and with expression, but they must understand what they read. Give parents instruction on how to practice comprehension skills while reading with their children.

Before Reading:

  • Read the title and look at the cover.
  • What do you see? What do you know about what you see?
  • Make a Prediction using the title and cover picture "What do you think this book will be about?" "What made you think that?"
  • Look at the pictures in the book and discuss what you see. Use the pictures to make a prediction about what the story will be about or what you will learn.

During Reading:

  • What is happening in the story?
  • What do you see?"
  • Did you confirm your prediction?
  • What new prediction can you make?

After Reading:

  • What was this story about?
  • Who is the story about?
  • What did this book remind you of?
  • What is the author trying to tell the reader?

3. Emphasize Repeated Readings Reading a text multiple times helps build accuracy, fluency, and deeper comprehension. Encourage students to read to many different audiences each night. Clip a "brag" page on the back of the book so that students can get their audience to write a positive note about the student's reading.

4. Sounding Out Words

Stumbling through a word or text is never encouraging or successful.

Give parents tips on how to coach their child to use strategies to figure out new words.

Strategies for Figuring Out Unknown Words:

  • Look at the pictures.
  • What word makes sense there?
  • Look at the beginning sound.
  • Get your mouth ready.
  • Look across the word.
  • Does the ending sound match what you are saying?
  • Break the word into parts or syllables.

5.Establish an "At-Home" Reading Routine

Provide parents with a suggestion of how they can structure reading time at home. Suggest that they read aloud at least one book or text each night. They should also read a book or text together with their child, as well has have their child read to them. Send home poems, songs, news articles, and other interesting texts that your students and their parents will enjoy and discuss.

Remember, practice makes permanent. Proficient readers see a lot of texts and process lots of information. Poor readers typically aren't seeing enough independent level texts. Many, if not most, parents want to help their children, but are not educated in effective practice or reading strategies. With a little guidance, the at-home reading experience can boost confidence and comprehension. All it takes is a little planning and communication.

Need a beginning of year letter to send home to parents about their child's reading? Click here and us ours!


Happy teaching!