Tag Archives: pbs.org

How to Help With Reading

Here is an article for parents from PBS.org that is worth a look:

Seven Tips for Early Literacy Learning: From Knowing Your ABCs to Learning to Read

By Amy Mascott

learning to read

Hooray! Your child can sing the alphabet like a pro! Now what? Once your child has mastered letter recognition, what can you do to help her get on the path to literacy? Here are seven important tips to consider after your child has learned the letters of the alphabet, but before she’s reading fluently.

  1. Focus on the letters of her name. Names are the most important words for children, so it makes sense to begin literacy learning with the child’s name. Acknowledge the “child’s letter”—the first letter of his or her name—by pointing it out whenever and wherever you see it. Then do some letter scrambles using blocks, magnetic letters or letters on index cards. Mix up the letters of the child’s name and work together to put them back in the proper order. Repeat this often with your child’s name, and then introduce “Mom,” “Dad,” and the names of siblings, friends, family and pets.
  2. Recognize each letter and know their sounds.It’s one thing for the child to know the letters in order, but it’s a bit harder for her to recognize each letter individually. When you see “her letter” on a sign, cereal box, or book, remember to point it out. Say, “Hey! Look here! I found your letter, Maddy! Here’s an M for Maddy. Mmmm, mmmm, Maddy!”Talk about the sounds that letters make and return frequently to easily relatable objects or things that interest the child. For example, say: “There’s a letter B for ‘blankie.’ I know you love blankie and sleep with it every night. Blankie begins with the letter B, like ‘ball’ and ‘butter’ and ‘baby bear.’ What else can you think of that begins with the B sound?”
  3. Introduce uppercase and lowercase letters. Your child will not likely be reading books that have all uppercase letters, so it’s imperative that you talk about uppercase and lowercase letters early on. Play games that involve matching uppercase and lowercase letters and spell her name using both cases.
  4. Practice early writing techniques. If children practice creating several simple letters, they will most likely be able to write the majority of the alphabet. Begin with X and O and then move on to a square and a triangle. Encouraging kids to “write” on sand, paint with water, or use their finger in shaving cream will make creating these shapes fun, and before you know it, they’ll be ready to move on to the letters of their names.
  5. Connect objects with words. Because reading involves creating meaning by combining words, pictures and prior knowledge, early readers lean on illustrations when reading—and that’s okay. Label everyday objects and point to the word as you say it. Play games where children connect simple words with pictures, like “cat” with a photo of a cat and “dog” with photo of a dog, etc. Model how to do it by pointing out the first letter of the word and saying the sound that the word makes, followed by the word, and then pointing to the picture.
  6. Practice print referencing. Print referencing is a simple yet meaningful way to enforce early literacy skills. It involves pointing out print elements in texts: pointing to the title of the book as you read it, running your finger under the words as you read the text on a page, or talking about anything related to the text. This helps children learn the basics: every book has a title and an author (and sometimes an illustrator), and we read from left to right, followed by a sweep down to the next line. Later, consider touching on basic grammar conventions and punctuation marks, differences between fiction and nonfiction texts, and different genres (news, magazines, poetry, short stories, etc.).
  7. Read, read, read! Read with your child every day, many times a day. Read books, signs, posters—anything with words. Read in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night. Read at the park, in the living room, at the pool. Read print everywhere you can find it!

Most importantly, make an effort to celebrate your child’s successes, because learning to read is something to smile about!


Kindergarten News October 24–When Volunteering Isn’t An Option


Helping at School When Volunteering Isn’t an Option

by Ann Barbour

Ann BarbourDr. Ann Barbour is Professor of Early Childhood Education at California State University, Los Angeles, (CSULA) and Series Content Advisor for the Peabody Award winning daily television series A Place of Our Own and Los Niños en Su Casa. Read more »

As you settled into the new school year, did you receive requests to volunteer at your child’s school? I thought so!

Schools encourage parent involvement primarily because children do better academically and have fewer behavior problems when families are involved. Schools also benefit from the resources and support families can provide, which are particularly important in these economic times.

Even though we know this type of involvement is a good thing, parents with overloaded work and family responsibilities can find participation difficult. If helping out at school isn’t possible for you, there are many other ways to participate. The most important type of parent involvement happens at home. And it involves much more than overseeing homework. On the most basic level, you can encourage your child’s learning during every day conversations and activities, by paying attention to his interests and questions, and by reading together on a regular basis.

Also, whenever you can help your child make outside-of-school connections to curriculum, you’re reinforcing and extending classroom learning. Being able to do so hinges on actually knowing what’s happening at school. And since kids aren’t always the best sources of information about this, it’s good to keep in touch with your child’s teacher.

The teacher may already have established regular communication channels to help you keep up-to-date with and give feedback about your child’s educational experiences. Whether or not that’s the case, you can take the initiative to let her know you’re interested in your child’s learning and offer whatever kind of support you can. If she knows something about your other responsibilities, schedule and preferences, she’ll be more likely to tailor messages and requests accordingly.

Understanding what your child is learning will also help you talk with him about it and connect other experiences to it. You’ll be able to say, “Tell me about Curious George (your poem, the neighborhood map, the mealworm habitat” rather than asking “What happened in school today?” which can yield a “Nothing” reply. If information about curriculum topics, lessons or investigations isn’t part of the teacher’s regular communications with families, you can respectfully request it. You can also follow up by letting her know what your child does outside of class that’s related e.g., “Emma emptied out my change purse to look for nickels so she could count by 5s.”

Here are some other ways you can be actively involved without volunteering at school or committing a huge amount of time:

  • Make sure you review with your child any work he brings home. Think about displaying it in a prominent place in your home to show how much you value his education.
  • Schedule occasional phone conferences or ask the teacher if you can “talk” by email when you have a question, concern or something to share.
  • If your child brings home a weekly folder, include short notes in it for the teacher to read.
  • Make a point of briefly touching base with the teacher when you drop your child off at school. A quick greeting and comment will continue to let her know you’re an active partner in your child’s learning.
  • Ask the teacher how you can support classroom activities at home. You can even make suggestions based on your particular skills or talents. For example, you could offer to:
    • Help make learning activities or repair broken equipment.
    • Donate materials.
    • Use your technology skills to help publish a class newsletter.
    • Organize or participate in a telephone tree that informs families about school activities.

You might also consider thinking about how you might be present occasionally. If you have a flexible work schedule or a vacation day, consider joining your child for lunch. You might even decide to help out at a one-time event such as a field trip or school festival. Your child will look forward to and remember these special times, and you’ll further reinforce the importance of his school experiences.