Parents who might be uncomfortable with continuing their role of teacher this fall can find solace in this fact: authentic teachable moments happen outside the classroom all the time. If your student or child had to rapidly transition to an at-home learning environment as a struggling reader, an English language learner, or one with dyslexia, there are many ways that the support they were receiving in school can transfer to their home.
Creating authentic learning experiences such as having your child help prepare meals, shop, and participate in outings to parks or museums can improve literacy. Simply engaging in conversation in the language spoken at home around shared experiences, explaining your thinking, and asking open-ended questions so your child can share their thoughts, facilitates a deeper level of communication. This builds metacognition, which is key for comprehension and reading success.
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As an implementation coach and educational specialist for a reading program, we would like to share two simple tips no matter what area of reading your student struggles with: finding effective resources and strategies, and building background knowledge. Students who struggle with reading need repetition, practice, and familiarity to keep momentum going. Providing your student with authentic experiences and background knowledge on the topics they are reading gives them a head start on reading comprehension. There are many ways parents and educators can further support their readers, whatever their need. We broke down specific strategies you can use to make learning at home as effective as possible.
Set specific goals: A helpful way to begin is to identify some simple goals for reading. For example, have your student use their finger to ensure they stop and look at every word rather than guess or skip words. Another goal may be to pause whenever they see a period, since many struggling readers miss punctuation. Discussing the content with your student is vital for building reading comprehension and retention. For younger children, that may involve them retelling the story. Older students may identify the key points in the text.