How to make your child a confident, competent reader

If you want your child to become a good soccer player, what should your child do?child kicking soccer ball

  • Read the life of soccer great, Pele?
  • Watch reruns of great World Cup games?
  • Practice, practice, practice running, blocking, swiveling, interfering, kicking and scoring?

If you want your child to become a good piano player, what should your child do?child playing violin

  • Prowl through Mozart’s haunts in Vienna?
  • Listen to Erroll Garner perform multiple versions of the same tune?
  • Practice scales, practice chords, practice phrases, practice, practice, practice?

And if you want your child to become a good reader, what should he or she do? boy reading on the floorRead, read, read.  Becoming a good reader, like becoming a good athlete or musician, is a skill.  It  needs to be honed by thousands of hours of practice. There’s no shortcut.

Parents pay me to tutor their children in reading, yet between our lessons, many children do no reading. Would you pay a coach to work with your son in a batting cage for an hour a week and then expect the boy not to wait a week to hit the ball again?  Would you pay an art teacher to work with your child an hour a week and then allow the child not to pick up charcoal until the next lesson?

If you want your child to improve his reading, then he needs to practice daily. Few classroom teachers allocate a half hour or an hour of class time daily to active reading instruction. If you want your child to improve as a reader, it’s up to you to provide reading time for him and for you.

How? Find books, magazines, online information or other kinds of reading that will interest your child. Lists of books by grade and topic abound on the internet. Have him read aloud to you. Notice what his strengths are and what his weaknesses are. Does he have trouble pronouncing words or knowing what they mean? Does he skip punctuation? Does he slur over big words? Does he skip whole lines of type as he reads? Does he miss inferences? Does he read without emotion, without inflection?  Does he mispronounce certain letters?  Then these are areas he needs to practice with you to help him.

Even if you are not an English teacher, you are a reader and can offer your child feedback on his reading. Model how reading is done. Don’t let him read off by himself. You need to be involved, to hear how he reads so that you can offer help.
Good readers self-monitor, stopping when they realize they aren’t getting it, but poor readers don’t. Help your child to get over the notion that one read through is enough.

If you want your child to be a confident and competent reader, you cannot depend on the schools. You must get involved. Even if you hire a tutor like me, you must get involved to be sure your child practices between his lessons. Practice is the only sure way to learn a skill.

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