Tips for Helping Children Learn to Read* – Teacher’s Corner

Teacher’s Corner

These tips are useful for anyone (teachers, parents, siblings, student mentors) who might be working with very young children or struggling readers.

  • Point out and talk about the letters on the pages – for example, “Letters go together to make words.” And, “Some words are short (just a few letters) while others are long (many letters).”
  • Point out that letters come in different sizes – have your child help you pick out the big letters and small letters.
  • Point out that you are going to read from left to right – “First I will read this page and then the page next to it.”
  • Point out that you will read from the top of the page to the bottom of the page.
  • Have your child help you point to the words as you read them.
  • Point out any words included in the pictures (in signs, labels, thought bubbles, or speech bubbles) – “These words tell us what the little boy is having for breakfast. The carton says, ‘Milk’”
*These tips are from Child Development, May/June 2012, Volume 83, Number 3, Pages 810-820.
Writing Prompts and Discussion Topics on the subject of learning to read.
Have your students think, pair, and share verbally or have them write their responses to the following prompts.
1.    Explain three reasons why knowing how to read is a good thing.
  • Use language that a young child would understand.
  • Use reasons that would be convincing to a young child.
  • Use personal experience as part of your explanation.
2.    Read a children’s book (Read to another student or demonstrate by reading to the whole class.) using the tips at The Importance of Storytelling.
3.   Explain what it was like to use the reading tips at   .
  • What you liked/didn’t like and why
  • What was easy/hard and why
  • Which tip you think would be most helpful for young children and why
Teachers, you can use this blog in classrooms. Here are two ideas about how.
  1. For middle or high school parenting or child development courses:
  • Use the blog for discussion topics
  • Require students to research the topics and agree or disagree with what the blog is suggesting.

2.  For all courses, especially English Language Arts:

  • Use the blog for writing prompts for paragraphs, theme papers, journal entries, class starters, etc. Have students read the blog and respond to:
    • Do you agree with what is being said about kids? Do kids really act, think or feel that way?
    • Do you agree with what is being said about parents, grandparents, teachers and child caregivers? Do or should they act, think or feel that way?
    • What would be your advice on this topic?
    • What was left out of this article?
    • If you were a parent, would you use any of this information? How?
Why can this blog be a useful teaching tool?
  • Students that see connections between their coursework and their lives do better in school.
  • Most students will either be parents one day or have children in their lives that they care about, so the topical information can help them build their knowledge about children and parenting and develop a positive image of the type of parenting they want to do.
  • The new core literacy standards adopted by most states call for frequent writing in all courses.
  • Newly developed end-of-course assessments to be used by many states will require that students demonstrate that they can think critically. These prompts help students practice critical thinking.
  • Newly developed end-of-course assessments to be used by many states will require that students demonstrate that they can analyze what they read. These prompts help students practice analysis.

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