Faced with the rigor of the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the pressure our kids are subjected to, we have to step-up our game as parents and help our kids do well in school. We must start early-on to ensure they learn their letters, letter sounds, and basic writing skills. From home, we can help our children become better readers and writers so that they’re prepared for inevitable academic challenges.
BUILDING BETTER READERS Helping kids become better readers begins very early on, in utero, by reading to your pregnant belly! We are our children’s first role models so we must model that love for reading, a Practice what you preach kind of motto. We cannot be hypocrites and tell our children to read while they’ve never seen us reading a book or talking about books we’ve read. If your child has siblings close to his age, it’s always helpful for them to read to each other and then discuss with you what they’ve read. This helps them improve their oral and mental comprehension. We do this in the classroom—it’s called cooperative comprehension.
Having children become better readers benefits them when they grow older because they are better able to interpret various texts and apply different comprehension strategies. As they move higher in grade level, they’ll have a deeper thought process when reading and critically analyzing a text with more maturity. It’s not about passively taking notes, but about partaking in a discussion and using their prior knowledge to better comprehend a text. Children should be able to explore the before, during and after stages of story development. They should set a purpose for reading and preview, predict, and plan before embarking on their literary adventures. During reading, they should apply those strategies. And after reading, we should remind them why it’s important to take the time to reflect and reread, as well as recap on what they read.
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BUILDING BETTER WRITERS Our children are writers from the moment they grasp their first crayon. We should encourage them to doodle, then gradually help them form letters and lead them into a writing pattern. Writing from a very early age is important, from drawing to inventive spelling, it’s all a form of writing and it’s the foundation for the writing years to come. The earlier they start, the more readily they’ll be able to write letters, memoirs, stories, essays, and poems for a variety of audiences.
As children grow as writers we want them to know that their writing has meaning, not only for them but also for those who read it. It’s good for them to write about topics that they naturally enjoy, but they should also write based on prompts, about topics they are unfamiliar with, so they can learn to think creatively. Students can also develop a sense of ownership about their writing by pairing up with other students and explaining what they wrote about and having their partners critique their work. This is how they gain confidence in their writing and develop their voice.
Above all, when supporting your child to become a better reader and writer, remember to be positive and encouraging. As they learn, children stumble and make mistakes. Help them overcome their fears, learn from their mistakes and move on. You truly are your child’s most valuable teacher. If you take that role seriously, your child (and you) cannot fail!