Newspaper Archive of
N. Warren Town and County News
Norwalk, Iowa
May 31, 2012     N. Warren Town and County News
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May 31, 2012

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Thursday, May 31, 2012 N/Warren Town and County News Page Nine OVIATT Concluded from p.1 you value. Talk with her about what you're reading. Set aside at least 15 minutes every day to read to each other. • Be relaxed and encouraging during reading time. Provide support, not criticism. • Visit the library often. Participate in library storytimes and reading clubs and make sure she has her own library card. • Always keep children's books, magazines and other reading materials close at hand so she can read anytime, anywhere. Show your child how reading helps you get infor- mation, answer questions and discover interesting things. Look things up together in an encyclopedia and check out some non-fiction children's books. In a national survey, students were asked which of the following types of literacy materials they had at home: Magazines, newspapers, encyclopedias and at least 25 books. Those who had more types of reading materials tended to be those who scored higher on read- ing proficiency tests. (National Assessment of Educa- tional Progress 1992 and 1994 Reading Assessments.) Beyond books, are there other ways to boost my child's reading abilities? There certainly are! Here are just a few: • Go places, do things. The more experiences children have, the easier it is for them to read because of all the new ideas and vocabulary they are exposed to. • Get your children involved in everyday reading -- directions, grocery lists, recipes, labels, instruction manuals and even the billboards and signs along the road. • Read the newspaper and clip out articles or comic strips he'd enjoy. • Limit television. If he's interested in a certain kind of TV show, look for some children's books or maga- zines that are the same style-action, comedy or sports- oriented, for example. • Play games together that require reading and word skills, such as Monopoly, The Game of Life, or Scrabble. • Books on tape are fun, too. Pause the tape and talk about the story, the characters, or what might happen next. • Encourage your child to be a writer. Keep paper and !2ers ,v@il .  ble,..and show how proud you are of the stories he writes. Which approach should schools use -- phonics or whole language? Rather than focusing on a single reading approach, most schools adopt a balanced reading program that combines both phonics and whole language. That's be- cause both are valuable. Phonics is essential to beginning reading instruction. It teaches children how to figure out what a word must be by sounding it out and comparing it to other words. Whole language adds to phonics by getting children excited about what they're reading. It encourages stu- dents to rely on children's literature more than reading primers or worksheets and also to express themselves through creative writing. Both phonics and whole lan- guage have merit. That's why most teachers use a blend of the two. This combination is key because children learn in many ways. Regardless of the teaching meth- ods they use, schools know their most crucial job is to help students develop a love of reading, as well as the necessary skills. How can I tell if my child is reading as well as she should for her age and grade level? If you're concerned or curious, the best person to ask is the teacher. You also might want to do a little moni- toring on your own. Listen to her as she reads aloud. Note whether you think her skills have improved. Is she reading more smoothly, more quickly? Has she learned to read with expression? Can she answer ques- tions about the book she's reading, or tell you, in her own words, about the story? Provide lots of praise as her reading skills progress. Should I continue to read to my child once he can read independently? Yes, for a lot of reasons. Most children's reading lev- els are very different from their listening levels. That means that they can understand books that they can't yet read. When you read challenging books to him, he gets to meet more interesting characters, learn more sophisticated words and soak up more complex ideas and story lines. Soon, he'll want to improve his reading enough so that he can read these better books on his own. There's another reason you should continue to read aloud. It's a wonderful way to spend true quality time with your child. And he'll love it. How can ! tell if my child is having trouble with read- ing? Almost every child will run into some stumbling blocks as he or she learns to read. For one child in six, the difficulties are severe. Here are some red flags you should look for: • Does she refuse to read for pleasure? • Does she look for ways to avoid reading? • Is she easily distracted away from what she's read- ing? • Does she often lose her place while reading? • When she reads school-assigned materials aloud, does she make a lot of error? • Does she have trouble sounding out new words? • Does she have trouble understanding the meaning of what's been read? I see some of these problems at home. What should I do? • Make sure the books aren't over his head: Ask his teacher or a librarian to suggest books at his reading level. Boost his confidence when he wants to read for pleasure by encouraging him to choose some easier books. • Listen for trouble spots: As he reads aloud, note the words he is having trouble with. Later, help him review or re-learn the letter or word sound. • Work on everyday words: The more words he knows accurately and automatically, the easier it is for him to read, because he won't have to stop and figure out the same word over and over. • Reduce distractions: Find a comfortable, well-lit, quiet place for him to go when he's reading. Try to situ- ate him away from the radio, TV, telephone or other distractions. • Make him feel good about his progress: Is he so scared about failing that he won't even try? Be sure to work with him in a kind, loving way and don't become angry or overly critical when he makes mistakes. Other children my child's age read better. What's wrong? Just as some children learn to ride a bicycle earlier than others, some children are able to master reading earlier than others. To find out whether there's cause for concern, meet with his teacher. If everything's okay, relax, be supportive -- boost your family reading time and forget the comparisons (especially to brothers and sisters). My child can't at3sweruestions about what he's read. How can I help him understand? Some children think that reading is being able to say all the words. But if they don't understand what they've just read, they're not really reading! If he's reading aloud, listen and ask questions about the story. If he's reading silently, read the story your- sell so you can discuss it with him. Ask him to retell the story in his own words and tell you what happened first, next and last. See if he can recall some of the inter- esting details. If he's having trouble answering your questions, it might be that he's trying to read too fast. He may also be concentrating so hard on figuring out what each word is that he's forgetting to think about the story itself. Take turns reading a paragraph at a time out loud to each other, for a while. Talk about what happened in the last paragraph before you move on to the next one.And keep in mind that every child learns to read at his own speed. What should I do when my child makes a mistake when she's reading? First, remember that all readers make mistakes. If she still understands the meaning of what she's reading you don't need to be concerned. But if she is missing the meaning of the sentence or the story, she needs your help. Wait a few seconds before jumping in -- give her time to correct it on her own. If she doesn't notice the mistake, have her re-read the sentence out loud. Ask her to listen to herself to hear whether every word fits. If she's having trouble with a specific word, suggest that she look at it to see if it is similar to a word she does know. You might also want to see if she can figure it out by its context -- by looking at the rest of the sentence and seeing what word would make sense. If she's still puzzled, don't make her struggle. Tell her what it is. It's important to keep her from acquiring the habit of skip- ping over words she doesn't know. Could there be physical problems causing my child to have trouble reading? Sometimes there are medical or physical reasons: • Hearing or Eyesight: Has your child had his hear- ing and vision checked? Both these senses are vital in the dassroom. Even a simple ear infection can interfere with learning. You might want to schedule a check-up. • Lifestyle: Children can't concentrate if they're low on sleep or short on energy. Make sure they have a good night's sleep and a nutritious, balanced diet every day (including a complete breakfast). • Learning Disabilities: If you're concerned about the possibility of a learning problem, talk to your child's teacher, principal, school counselor, or psychologist. Your child's doctor may have to be consulted as well. I had a hard time learning to read and now my chil- dren are running into the same problem. Could it be hereditary? Some reading disorders can be inherited. For others, it may just be a lack of exposure to reading. The good news is that, with some outside assistance, virtually everyone can eventually become a successful reader. My child is reading far beyond his grade level. Should I push to have him promoted to a higher grade? Although many children read above their grade level, schools don't usually recommend moving children up to higher grades, even just for reading classes, because of the social adjustment. Work with his teacher to supplement his classroom reading with a higher level of literature and allow plenty of opportunities for rec- reational reading at home. Is there any way to make TV less of a brain-drain? While quality TV programs can help your child un- derstand new words and ideas, our children watch way too much television -- and most of it is not high qual- ity. Students who watch at least four hours of TV daily have lower average reading scores than those who watch less television. • Watch programs with your child, when possible. Discuss the stoI the characters, the plot or even some of the commercials. • When the characters on a program face an unusual situation or dilemma, use it as an opportunity for fam- ily members to discuss how they would handle it. • Look for high quality specials and other programs that will enlighten and educate your children, as well as entertain them. My child doesn't like to read. How can I help him learn to enjoy it? Don't give up! Try some of these suggestions: • Find the right level: If your child is being asked to read books above his reading level, he's going to get frus- trated. Remember -- reading for fun doesn't have to be as challenging as classroom reading. • Grab his interest: Read to him every night from the type of book or magazine he really likes -- even if it's a sports magazine or a joke book. • Be kin& Never criticizeyour d if he las trouble reading. It can turn him off to reading for life. • Go high-tech: Some kids think it's more fun to read from a computer screen than from a book. Get a CD- ROM encyclopedia or look for reading-oriented com- puter games and programs. • Follow-up on flicks: Many movies are based on great books. Get a copy of the book and let him discover all the wonderful details the film version left out. • Build on hobbies: Seek out children's books and magazines that show how to make things, or that relate to family hobbies or collections. Where can I get a list of books that would be good for my child's reading level? Public libraries and school libraries are the best sources. Most have printed lists, arranged by age, sub- ject or reading ability. If you're online, you can down- load reading lists from several education-oriented websites. Reading is the single most important skill children need to succeed in school. That's why it's helpful to make reading part of your children's home life every day. The more children read -- and are read to -- the better read- ers they'll become. Samuel Sava, Ed.D., Executive Director, National Associa- tion of Elementary School Principals Parents ask, "how can we help our children succeed in school?" The answer: Raise them to love reading. Read to them and with them. Support and praise them as they learn to read. Show them that reading is a wonderful way to get their questions answered, their curiosity sat- isfied and their days brightened. Alvin Granowsky, Vice President, School and Library Ser- vices, World Book Educational Products