The one question I’ve been asked throughout my career working with kids of all learning styles and abilities by their parents is “what can I do at home to help him/her?” Most of the time this question is asked when a student is starting to struggle with literacy.
There are two main components to a child’s literacy development:
1. Fluency- the speed at which they read
2. Comprehension- the rate at which they understand what they have read
Both are very important to strong literacy development.
Here are 5 ways you can improve your child’s literacy development at home.
1. Read with your kids every single day.
Set aside 5-20 minutes, depending on their age and attention span, and make this time part of your everyday routine. It doesn’t matter if you are reading to your kids or they are reading to you. The key is not to treat this time as a chore. If you treat this as a special time, your kids will too. It lets them know that you value reading, which sets the example for them to follow.
2. Set a timer and tell your child you want to see how many words he/she can read in one minute.
Doing this once or twice a week will help build your child’s fluency. If kids read too fast or too slow, it could affect their rate of comprehension The numbers below represent a range of average words per minute fluency rate according to age. Don’t assume there is a problem if your child reads much slower or faster, especially if they are easily able to summarize what they just read.
Age 6: 25-65
Age 7: 65-105
Age 8: 85- 125
Age 9: 105-145
Age 10: 125-160
3. Turn the subtitles/captions on your t.v. if that comes as a standard option.
This is something simple you can do that gives kids more exposure to spoken words and print when they are watching their favorite shows. My son is a beginning reader and I thought he might get irritated with the captions coming across his favorite shows (when it’s available) but he is just that much more interested!
4. Talk to your kids about how you are using different printed materials.
Ask for them to get a menu at restaurants, tell them about something you read in the newspaper, consider a subscription to Highlights. They will understand that reading is important without you saying it!
5. Sing and play rhyming games.
Be silly! Make up songs and rhymes at bath time, when you’re driving down the road, waiting in line at a store or just anytime… chances are you’ll both get a kick out of it and increasing their literacy is just a side benefit.
All of these things are practicing skills, and more practice improves performance when it comes to a child’s literacy. It opens windows for more conversation, vocabulary and figuring out how words work. It sparks their imagination and lets them consider something from another person’s point of view.
Perhaps the best outcome of all is the time engaging with your kids and watching them grow as readers.