Secret Time! These are the exact techniques I use with my tutoring students when they are struggling with reading, fluency, and comprehension. One of my 8th grade students was reading at a 5th grade level and failing English and Writing at school. After working with her for an hour twice a week, her next progress report was straight A’s!!! I was blown away and so happy for her! Not only that, she also writes in her free time for pleasure and looks forward to reading our books! So, all you moms and dads out there, save a buck and take an hour with your kid here and there to help them out!
1.) Pick a GOOD Book
Think about the books you read when you were in school. Which ones did you hate and which ones did you love? Why? Don’t torture your child with a boring book or one that is too advanced. If your child is reading at a 5th grade level, get a book that is at a 5th grade level. Frustration does not help anyone learn!
My personal favorite genera is Historical Fiction, mostly because I love history, but also because it strikes up conversation about history and social justice. So, your kid is not only reading, but they are also learning about real events! A student and personal fave book is:
“The War That Saved My Life” By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Comic Books! They are books! If you have a child who is into comic books, encourage that. Nowadays, there is just about anything and everything in graphic novel form, even the Bible!
2.) Before You Crack the Book
Have them touch and explore the outside of the book. Ask them questions about what they notice on the cover. Then, have them write down Goals and predictions in their journals about what they think is going to happen in the book.
Have them track their predictions as they read. Remember that it is important to predict and REpredict when expanding comprehension skills. Over and Over and Over.
4.) I Read, You Read
Model good reading with lots of energy and enthusiasm! Read a page and then have your child read a page out loud to you. Switch back and forth and they will try to copy how you read. Pro-tip…. Make sure YOU can read out loud well.
5.) Get a Cute Journal
Again, kids love anything cute especially if you hype it up for them. If your kid likes Elsa, get an Elsa journal or print a picture of her to decorate the cover of a cheap journal. Get cute stickers, paper, and add-ons of all kinds and turn it into a craft.
6.) KWL Charts
Kids love these charts for some reason. I think they feel smart because they begin to make connections!
Make a chart with 3 columns; Know, Want, and Learned.
Under the Know section, have them write what they think they know about a topic.
Under the Want section, write about what they want to learn about the topic.
After the lesson or reading a book, have them write what they Learned! Ask them if they they made any knew connections after filling out the chart.
7.) Compare and Contrast
Children’s books have great patterns where it’s easy to use a Venn Diagram or a T-chart to compare characters, lifestyles, points in time, countries, and so much more! Their school will have them do this a lot, so it’s good to get this skill down at home.
8.) Cause and Effect – Drawing Parallels
While reading, have the student write down in a graphic organizer, what they notice about cause and effect. Ask, “How Did _____ Happen? Why?” Go into what they think more by discussing it. Tell them about what you have noticed.
9.) Writing a Letter
Kids, even teenage kids, love to think that the book characters are real people (don’t we all though!?). They are just now getting into books and getting attached to characters. Have them write a letter to a character about a problem they are having or pretend they are pen pals! You can even write letters back as the character.
For older kids, you can have them write letters to character from the perspective of another character in the book. For example, a neglectful mother writing to her sick child. Doing this puts kids in other people’s shoes and helps them explore their feelings and right from wrong.
10.) YOUR ATTITUDE About Books and Reading
I don’t care if you think reading is boring. NEVER say that in front of your kid. If you don’t like reading, then why on earth should they? Be over-the-top about reading. I’ll say, “What? You don’t like reading? How? I think it is SO MUCH FUN!” I’m kind of using peer-pressure, but it is for a good cause because they wind up loving reading anyway!!
Also, don’t just SAY you love books, SHOW them you love books and reading. Start reading a book that you enjoy and they will take notice.