Create a List

List Name

Rename this List
Save to
Back to the Top Teaching Blog
October 27, 2015 Partnering With Parents: Literacy Activities and Resources By Amanda Nehring
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    Each year at parent-teacher conferences I repeatedly hear two questions: “How can I help my child become a better reader?” and, “How can I work with my child to improve in mathematics?” These two academic areas are vital for learning development at any age, so it is important as a teacher to have practical resources and ideas ready for inquiring parents. Since math and reading are two huge topics, this is going to be a two-part blog post. This week let’s look into ways to help parents become more comfortable with literacy skills and strategies, and next time we will talk all about math.

    In school we read not just in language arts and literature, but across all academic areas. Especially with the Common Core State Standards focusing so heavily on nonfiction reading comprehension, literacy is at the forefront of study in math, science, and social studies. For this reason requests for resources to help children improve their reading skills has become common during parent conferences. During these conversations parents share that they are reading with their children at home, but they just don’t know what they can do to help improve literacy skills beyond the bedtime read aloud. I think that as teachers we need to recognize first, that not everyone has had extensive university training in the components of reading.

    This sounds silly, but we often take for granted the fact that we have been taught all about phonics, fluency, accuracy, and comprehension. For many parents, hearing a teacher tell them that they need to work on fluency with their children just brings up more questions. What does fluency really mean? How do you teach fluency? Without first giving parents the resources to understand how and why reading develops we really are not helping them at all. I believe that parents are not just their child’s first teacher, but the most important members of the child’s learning team. As teachers it is our job to come alongside parents and help them teach their children how to be strong, successful, and avid readers.

    To empower my students’ parents I have developed and taught parent literacy classes for the past five years. I’ve done everything from a one-night games workshop to a five-week class on literacy, but no matter how you choose to partner with parents, here’s some things to share:

     

    What Parents Need to Know About Literacy

    • Phonics and Syllables

    Early reading begins with an understanding of phonics and syllables. Children first learn the letters and sounds of the written language and then combine the sounds to make syllables. Memorizing common syllables like word families, prefixes, and suffixes can help children become more efficient readers. To help children understand the relationship between letter sounds and symbols, download this guide to building essential phonics skills.

    • Decoding Strategies

    Decoding refers to one’s ability to look at a word and sound it out or break it down to decipher its meaning. When children are learning to read, and even as they are practicing as they get older, decoding is an important skill to help make sense of written language. Here are some helpful hints for you and your child to use as you decode.

    1. Ask yourself if what you read makes sense. If it doesn't, try reading the word again.

    2. Use picture clues to help you figure out an unknown word.

    3. Look for sounds within the word that you already know.

    4. Reread the word.

    5. Skip the word and read on for context clues.

    • Fluency

    Fluency is the word teachers use when talking about how quickly and accurately a child can read. A fluent reader recognizes high frequency words by sight, uses decoding strategies efficiently for new words, and reads smoothly, heeding all punctuation. A fluent reader also reads accurately. This means that your child should not just rush through reading, but instead should make sure that they are self-correcting any errors and reading with expression in their voice. In kindergarten through second grade fluency is a big focus in reading instruction.

    • Vocabulary

    As children learn to read they are also learning new words. As parents it is important to work with your children to make sure that they understand the meaning of the new vocabulary they encounter as they read. Beyond the words on the page, students also need to know academic vocabulary, such as the characters, setting, or plot of a text.

    • Comprehension

    Being fast and accurate are not the only important characteristics of a good reader. Students must be able to understand what they are reading. As teachers and parents it is our job to stop and check that children are making sense of what they read. We should ask them questions about their reading and engage in frequent conversations about the stories we enjoy. Here is a helpful printable with some discussion questions you can ask your children while you read.

     

    How to Create an Environment for Reading at Home

    • Create a quiet and comfortable reading space. A comfortable and quiet reading space

    • Make sure that you know your child’s reading level and provide them with books that are on or just above their level. Scholastic’s Book Wizard is the perfect tool to aid you in the quest for books appropriate to your child’s reading level. The Book Wizard can be accessed on Scholastic’s website or downloaded as an app for use on smartphones or tablets.

    • Read aloud to your child. This models fluency, accuracy, and expression so they can learn to read like you do. Make sure that when you are reading you get into character. Use voices for different characters and make sure to have fun with rhyming or pattern books. 

    • Listen to your child read aloud. By listening to their reading you can help them learn to self-correct errors and use decoding strategies to sound out unfamiliar words. It is also great practice for your children to hear themselves read in order to work on their fluency.

    • Have plenty of books available for your child to choose and read. Go to the library frequently. Take advantage of the Scholastic Reading Club when flyers come home. Ordering through your child’s classroom also earns points for your child’s teacher to get even more books for their classroom library.

     

    Reading Activities and Resources for Teachers and Parents

    • In addition to practicing reading, it is also important for children to practice writing every day. Try this writing activity after reading a good book. 

    • Play with words. Children need to see that words can be fun! Whether it means playing with the letters in your child’s name using refrigerator magnets or reading street signs and store names when you are out and about, make sure to take time to enjoy exploring reading in the real world. You can also use games like Scrabble or Boggle to help young readers practice while they play. If your child is more motivated by technology, try downloading free apps like Wordament (a digital version of Boggle) or visit the Scholastic Kids site for phonics fun with Clifford. Free Rice is an addictive vocabulary game that, as an altruistic aside, donates 10 grains of rice for every correct answer.

    • Motivate young readers with technology! Students today are fortunate to have access to smartphones, iPads/tablets, computers and Internet games. Check out these great digital reading resources from Scholastic:

    • The Oops Game

            Make your own reading game at home in just a few simple steps:

     

    1. Use Scholastic’s Word Workshop tool to make cards with your child’s spelling words or high frequency words. You can even download pre-made cards to get you started. Cut your cards apart and place them in a box.

    2. Have players take turns choosing a card from the box and reading it aloud. If the player reads the card correctly they get to keep the card. If they are unable to decode the word they must say “Oops” and return it to the box, giving the next player a turn.

    3. Play until all of the cards are read. The person with the most cards at the end wins.

    4. For even more games and reading resources check out these blog posts from my fellow Top Teaching bloggers:

    Each year at parent-teacher conferences I repeatedly hear two questions: “How can I help my child become a better reader?” and, “How can I work with my child to improve in mathematics?” These two academic areas are vital for learning development at any age, so it is important as a teacher to have practical resources and ideas ready for inquiring parents. Since math and reading are two huge topics, this is going to be a two-part blog post. This week let’s look into ways to help parents become more comfortable with literacy skills and strategies, and next time we will talk all about math.

    In school we read not just in language arts and literature, but across all academic areas. Especially with the Common Core State Standards focusing so heavily on nonfiction reading comprehension, literacy is at the forefront of study in math, science, and social studies. For this reason requests for resources to help children improve their reading skills has become common during parent conferences. During these conversations parents share that they are reading with their children at home, but they just don’t know what they can do to help improve literacy skills beyond the bedtime read aloud. I think that as teachers we need to recognize first, that not everyone has had extensive university training in the components of reading.

    This sounds silly, but we often take for granted the fact that we have been taught all about phonics, fluency, accuracy, and comprehension. For many parents, hearing a teacher tell them that they need to work on fluency with their children just brings up more questions. What does fluency really mean? How do you teach fluency? Without first giving parents the resources to understand how and why reading develops we really are not helping them at all. I believe that parents are not just their child’s first teacher, but the most important members of the child’s learning team. As teachers it is our job to come alongside parents and help them teach their children how to be strong, successful, and avid readers.

    To empower my students’ parents I have developed and taught parent literacy classes for the past five years. I’ve done everything from a one-night games workshop to a five-week class on literacy, but no matter how you choose to partner with parents, here’s some things to share:

     

    What Parents Need to Know About Literacy

    • Phonics and Syllables

    Early reading begins with an understanding of phonics and syllables. Children first learn the letters and sounds of the written language and then combine the sounds to make syllables. Memorizing common syllables like word families, prefixes, and suffixes can help children become more efficient readers. To help children understand the relationship between letter sounds and symbols, download this guide to building essential phonics skills.

    • Decoding Strategies

    Decoding refers to one’s ability to look at a word and sound it out or break it down to decipher its meaning. When children are learning to read, and even as they are practicing as they get older, decoding is an important skill to help make sense of written language. Here are some helpful hints for you and your child to use as you decode.

    1. Ask yourself if what you read makes sense. If it doesn't, try reading the word again.

    2. Use picture clues to help you figure out an unknown word.

    3. Look for sounds within the word that you already know.

    4. Reread the word.

    5. Skip the word and read on for context clues.

    • Fluency

    Fluency is the word teachers use when talking about how quickly and accurately a child can read. A fluent reader recognizes high frequency words by sight, uses decoding strategies efficiently for new words, and reads smoothly, heeding all punctuation. A fluent reader also reads accurately. This means that your child should not just rush through reading, but instead should make sure that they are self-correcting any errors and reading with expression in their voice. In kindergarten through second grade fluency is a big focus in reading instruction.

    • Vocabulary

    As children learn to read they are also learning new words. As parents it is important to work with your children to make sure that they understand the meaning of the new vocabulary they encounter as they read. Beyond the words on the page, students also need to know academic vocabulary, such as the characters, setting, or plot of a text.

    • Comprehension

    Being fast and accurate are not the only important characteristics of a good reader. Students must be able to understand what they are reading. As teachers and parents it is our job to stop and check that children are making sense of what they read. We should ask them questions about their reading and engage in frequent conversations about the stories we enjoy. Here is a helpful printable with some discussion questions you can ask your children while you read.

     

    How to Create an Environment for Reading at Home

    • Create a quiet and comfortable reading space. A comfortable and quiet reading space

    • Make sure that you know your child’s reading level and provide them with books that are on or just above their level. Scholastic’s Book Wizard is the perfect tool to aid you in the quest for books appropriate to your child’s reading level. The Book Wizard can be accessed on Scholastic’s website or downloaded as an app for use on smartphones or tablets.

    • Read aloud to your child. This models fluency, accuracy, and expression so they can learn to read like you do. Make sure that when you are reading you get into character. Use voices for different characters and make sure to have fun with rhyming or pattern books. 

    • Listen to your child read aloud. By listening to their reading you can help them learn to self-correct errors and use decoding strategies to sound out unfamiliar words. It is also great practice for your children to hear themselves read in order to work on their fluency.

    • Have plenty of books available for your child to choose and read. Go to the library frequently. Take advantage of the Scholastic Reading Club when flyers come home. Ordering through your child’s classroom also earns points for your child’s teacher to get even more books for their classroom library.

     

    Reading Activities and Resources for Teachers and Parents

    • In addition to practicing reading, it is also important for children to practice writing every day. Try this writing activity after reading a good book. 

    • Play with words. Children need to see that words can be fun! Whether it means playing with the letters in your child’s name using refrigerator magnets or reading street signs and store names when you are out and about, make sure to take time to enjoy exploring reading in the real world. You can also use games like Scrabble or Boggle to help young readers practice while they play. If your child is more motivated by technology, try downloading free apps like Wordament (a digital version of Boggle) or visit the Scholastic Kids site for phonics fun with Clifford. Free Rice is an addictive vocabulary game that, as an altruistic aside, donates 10 grains of rice for every correct answer.

    • Motivate young readers with technology! Students today are fortunate to have access to smartphones, iPads/tablets, computers and Internet games. Check out these great digital reading resources from Scholastic:

    • The Oops Game

            Make your own reading game at home in just a few simple steps:

     

    1. Use Scholastic’s Word Workshop tool to make cards with your child’s spelling words or high frequency words. You can even download pre-made cards to get you started. Cut your cards apart and place them in a box.

    2. Have players take turns choosing a card from the box and reading it aloud. If the player reads the card correctly they get to keep the card. If they are unable to decode the word they must say “Oops” and return it to the box, giving the next player a turn.

    3. Play until all of the cards are read. The person with the most cards at the end wins.

    4. For even more games and reading resources check out these blog posts from my fellow Top Teaching bloggers:

Comments

Share your ideas about this article

My Scholastic

Susan Cheyney

GRADES: 1-2
About Us