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Becoming Readers

10 Ways to Help Your Children Become Better Readers

1. Read aloud to your children. 

     Reading aloud is probably the single most important activity you can do to encourage your children's success as readers.  It is an especially important activity during the preschool years.   When you read lots of stories to your children, and look at lots of picture books with them, you are helping them build the store of knowledge they will use when they begin to read in schools.  The benefits of reading aloud are greatest when you encourage your children to participate in this activity by identifying letters and words and talking about the story and the meaning of the words.

2. Help your children acquire a wide range of knowledge.

     When you take your children on shopping trips, walks in the park, and visits to zoos and museums, you help give them important background knowledge, they will need as they learn to read in school.  Understanding even simple stories can depend on their having both common and not-so-common knowledge.

3. Encourage your children to think about events.

     Ask your children to describe events; this makes them reflect upon experiences and helps them learn to give good descriptions and tell complete stories.  These activities help your children understand what they are reading and how stories are written.

4. Talk with your children about their experiences.

     When you talk with your children about their experiences, you help them learn new words and understand what these new words mean.  Talking with children also helps them learn from their experiences and use this knowledge to understand what they are reading.  As a result, they will better understand what they are reading. 

5. Provide your preschool children with writing materials.

     Writing is an important way for your children to learn about letters and words.  Children are often very eager to learn how to write and you can encourage them by having paper and pencils or crayons in your home and helping them use devices such as magnetic boards and letters to help them learn about letters and words. 

6. Encourage your children to watch TV programs that have educational value.

     Watching television programs that teach about reading and language can have a positive effect on your children's learning.  You can also help them learn from these programs by asking questions about the shows and relating what they are seeing to other situations and experiences.

7.  Monitor how much TV your children watch.

     Watching quality television programs can have a slightly positive effect on your children's achievement in school but as the number of viewing hours per week increases the TV can become a negative influence on your children's school experience.

8. Monitor your children's school performance.

     When you visit your children's teachers, find out about the reading program in their classrooms.  Some educators believe that children tend to be more successful readers when their parents  have an accurate view of their school work and are  actively involved.

9.  Encourage your children to read independently.

     The amount of reading your children do outside of school influences how well they will read in school.  Most children do not read very much during their free time.  One of your top priorities as a parent should be to encourage your children to spend more time reading.  You can help them read more by having plenty of books in your home and visiting the library regularly.

10.  Continue your personal involvement in your children's growth as readers.

     Set a good example for your children by reading newspapers, magazines, and books.  Suggest reading as a leisure time activity and make sure your children have time for reading.  You may want, for example, to establish a bedtime hour after which reading is the only activity permitted other than going to sleep.