Feeling like a reader

I wanted to show you this example of Indi, reading. I think it is a good example of what we are working toward achieving with many of our students.

Today, Indi felt like a reader.

She was able to read her book to us, from start to finish, with no ‘tricky moments’. Yes, of course it was largely memorised. Yes, of course she used the pictures as cues for some of the words. But the main things I want parents to understand is that because she had already done the hard work in decoding the words and in learning her sight words, she was then able to enjoy READING it to Mum and Dad with no, ‘tricky moments.’

Indi was able to feel like a reader. Indi was able to enjoy the story. Indi was able to enjoy SHARING the story. And for any student (regardless of age), isn’t that what what want them to experience?

So what has been done to get here?

  • She has been learning her sight words via flash cards at least every second night (many children need to do this each night, but Indi has a good memory so doesn’t require as much repetition at this stage). The sight words in this book were: the, my, is, said,
  • She went on a ‘picture walk‘ through the book before reading. This is where she looked at the pictures and identified what she could see about them (in this case naming the animals).
  • She had talked about, looked at and decoded the ‘story words‘ before reading. In this book they are: nose, long, longer
  • Now read it it her Learning Coach.

These activities meant that when she brought her book home, although by this stage the story was memorised, she had actually done the hard work already and it was time for her to enjoy it. Notice however, that she is actually reading and not just ‘reciting’. She is reading the words at the same time that they are being pointed to (our next step is to have HER pointing to the words as she reads). At the previous stage, she would recite rather than matching each spoken word with its written form – that’s ok, she still felt like a reader, which is the purpose of our efforts!

This process is one of the BEST ways to build confidence as a reader.

So when we send books home with your child and you can see that it seems like it has been learnt off-by-heart….it probably has! It probably has, because they have already worked hard with us using all the strategies mentioned here as well as a few others, to decode the words. Reading it to you at home is their opportunity to feel like a reader and to enjoy sharing this moment with you!

Reading at Home

“Reading aloud with children is known to be the single most important activity for building the knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read.”
— Dr. Marilyn Jager Adams, Educational Psychologist

A conversation I have had with many parents lately has been around getting their child to read at home. We do wonderful work here in our Learning Studio to improve reading skills, but some parents still have difficulty getting their child to read at home. Here are some tips to help encourage and engage your child in reading:

  • It doesn’t matter what they are reading; it just matters that they are. Let’s not worry about the genre or text type; instead, let’s begin to celebrate that they have an interest in reading, no matter what it is. Whether it be a motorbike magazine, a cartoon based book (such as Geronimo the Mouse), something online, fact, fiction, or anything in between, it’s the actual reading of words that matters.
  • Let them make choices in what to read. Yes, they may chose the exact same book every night, but it means they are still enjoying and engaged with this book. Often, they find a safety and comfort in knowing what the story is about. To introduce variety into their reading diet, alternate between who gets to choose the story each night, or read two stories; one your child chooses, and one you choose.
  • Set up a special reading corner/space at home. Having somewhere special to go to enjoy reading can make a big difference. A tidy space where books are easily accessible is important, and a level of comfort can give that little extra motivation. For older children, a simple gesture such as a lamp on a table next to their bed may be enough. There are loads of easy ways to create your very own family reading space and Google is a great inspiration.

Check out some of these simple and realistically achievable reading nooks and corners that are reasonable to set up in the average home.

living-room-window-seat-cozy-reading-spot-nook-storage-for-books-shelves-idea-design-idea-for-teen-bedroom nook 2 nook 3 reading-nook-1-e1329421241586

 Images courtesy of 

http://www.flor.com/blog/cozy-kids/, http://www.modernparentsmessykids.com/2012/08/fall-project-set-up-book-nook.html, https://hipmommies.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/cozy-reading-nook-decorating/, http://sweethomedesign2013.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/living-room-reading-corner-designs.html

And here is what it looks like currently in our house (excuse the low quality photograph, this was ‘an opportunity captured but not interrupted!’)

Indi's reading corner has easy access to her books where she make make a choice on what she 'reads' (she re-tells the story, and reads the pictures), her comfy sheep skin rug, and is slightly blocked by her bed and rocking chair to separate it from the rest of her room and reduce stimuli.

Indi’s reading corner has easy access to her books where she can make her own choices on what she ‘reads’ (she re-tells the stories, and reads the pictures). She has her comfy sheep skin rug to sit on, and is slightly blocked by her bed and rocking chair to separate it from the rest of her room and reduce stimuli.

  • Read with your child. Alternate between you reading to them, and them reading to you. It might be a page each, a chapter each, a book each (long or short), an article each. Make it about spending time together, and not focused on the chore of ‘checking’ their reading. If you know they are going to have difficulty on a particular word (especially names), tell them what it says as soon as they get to it. It is our job to teach them how to read, and it is your job is to give them opportunities to read and to feel good about it. Mileage is important. The more they read, the better they will become. A little reading should happen every single day. Reading with your child is not just for younger students. Relationships with our children don’t stop when they reach high school. Find a topic that you can share together. It could be related to a building project you can do together. Get creative and enjoy this time.
  • You DO have time to read together. As I eluded to above, reading with your child could be as little as 5 minutes or as long as an hour. You do not have to complete an entire story. I often let our 4 year old know how much I am going to read to her that night. It’s not uncommon for me to say “Indi, Mumma is feeling exhausted tonight, so we are going to read 4 pages (we’re reading picture books) and will finish the rest tomorrow.” Reading together does not have to be only at night time. Take any opportunity where you have 5 minutes to devote to your child.
3 (and a half) year old Indi and her Dadda taking an opportunity to read together

Indi (3 and a half years old) and her Dadda taking an opportunity to read together

“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.” — Kate DiCamillo, children’s author

What works for you when it comes to reading at home with your children?

Do you have a reading nook at home?

Email me a photo of your child reading at home or of your special reading nook and I will share them with our readers 🙂

kate@backtobasicstuition.com.au