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How to Help Your Child Learn To Read

Nov 25, 2007
Words are the tools of thinking and expression. Perhaps one of the greatest home-aids to a child's reading is helping the child develop the art of marking and underlining in order to identify easily the significant material to be remembered. This practice is called "reading with a pencil in hand." It is a practice so valuable as to be worth buying books to be marked.

There are three important underlinings which should be used. The child should be taught to underline fundamental vocabulary words, and this can be started with the very first book that deals with subject matter. The method suggested for fundamental vocabulary words is a line above a shorter line (number, add, count, subtract, multiply, fraction, arithmetic, problem, divide).

The longer line stands for definition, and the shorter line stands for spelling. The second grader who underlines number in his book Fun With Numbers will not be spelling it (nomber) when he is a junior in secondary school, and the fourth grader who learns the definition of the word fraction will not be having trouble with fractions as an eighth grader, because he only learned about fractions, but really never knew what the word meant in terms of whole experience.

The second kind of under lining can be a broken line to designate details, facts, and significant word pictures which are interesting, but perhaps not of primary importance to understanding the content of the subject. This is a splendid way to introduce the child to the excitement of independent study: "Here is a fact. Here is a description which interests me. It is not important for a question, but I like it and I want to remember it."

The third kind of underlining is the long solid line that points out the solid information: such essentials as topic sentences, specific details, definitions, and summary sentences.

Practices in Better Reading

Emphasize a positive approach to reading - to concentrate, to remember, and to apply. Reading for pleasure and reading for work, used in the early years, should be converted, at about fourth or fifth grade level, into the three methods - skimming, careful reading, and intensive reading.

Use questions and tests in all reading. Teach the child to look for possible questions and answers.

Underline important words and details; make marginal symbols to point out important material. The child who reads "with a pencil in his hand" is the child who thinks about what he is reading.

It is well for the child to be reminded frequently that reading is not a simple process, learned in one year, but that the really good reader is constantly disciplining himself to improve.

There are no predetermined reading levels for children, such as third grade level or fifth grade level. Help your child choose what is interesting to him. With a little guidance he will always be beyond his grade level.

After the pattern of words has been mastered, the sentence must then be divided into fixations and ideas, and read for ideas.

Knowledge of paragraph structure is necessary for all methods of reading; and the ability to find the essential ideas of topics is a practice built almost entirely upon this knowledge.

Teach your child to make a Preliminary Survey before reading - the title, the section headings, the main topics of paragraphs. This should provide the answer to the question: What am I going to learn?

No reading assignment in school work is complete until it has been summarized with the book closed; this is best done by paragraphs or sections rather than by whole assignments.

Books are the memory of mankind, and their function is memory; they make available for us what is known. Whatever can be done to teach a deeper appreciation of them will add much to the life of the fortunate one being taught.

The very physical structure, parts, etc., of a book should be taught in the early years; much help is provided by knowing and using properly the separate parts.

Help your child in these ways and you will be adding to his life skills.
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