This is my first post in a series on Early Reading Strategies. As a first grade teacher, I hear all the time about how younger students lack a lot of "reading strategies" because their parents have never read to them...(I know it's very very sad)...or the parents lacked the knowledge to teach them the strategies before they even stepped foot into Kindergarten. This is not the parents fault. There definitely needs to be some info out there for parents and I hope this helps parents who need it. I'm definitely not saying that parents are the only ones responsible for teaching their child to read, but consider your child's teacher as a coach. You, the parent, are the manager. You have more influence and power than the "best" teacher out there.
Parents need to start these strategies EARLY! So please share this with moms and dads you know that may be struggling to understand what they need to do to get their children reading and comprehending.
These are strategies that we should be doing with our children as early as 2 years old, or when they first show an interest in books, My son started grabbing books off his shelf before 2 years old, so I have been using these strategies from that day and they work!!
As children get interested in books, it's normal for them and parents, to just open the book and start reading. We quickly grab books and dive right in. As a parent, we are so excited about seeing their curiosity blossom when it comes to print and letters. However, we also need to pay attention to what we can do to get them talking about what they read and to get them asking questions. Taking a picture walk is a pre-reading strategy so your little one doesn't even have to be reading to be able to do this. Here's what you do:
1. Get a good picture book that is appropriate for your child. Books with detailed illustrations and a lot of color will always get them interested. Picking out books with themes your child likes will help this strategy work even more.
2. Point out the cover of the book and talk about what it shows. Give your child opportunities to talk about what they see. Ask them questions about what they see.
3. Start turning through each page without reading one single word. Have your child explore and observe what they see in the pictures. This is a slow "walk" so allow time for your child to point out things they like and ask questions about things they don't know. Continue to ask questions that will spark some new vocabulary and concepts.
4. Once you get to the end of the story and have looked at each picture, have your child recall and think about what they saw. Ask "What do you think this story will be about?" (making predictions) "Can you tell me about your favorite picture? Why is that your favorite picture?" (making connections) "What is the character doing in this picture?" (analyzing characters) "Where are the characters at in this story?" (setting) "Why did the character do that?" These are basic questions. The types of questions you ask will depend on the story you read.
You will be surprised at some words your child may pick up on while you read because of your earlier discussions during the picture walk.
Children use pictures to build understanding. This is just the first step. If you use this strategy with EVERY book you read to your child, you will see a difference in your child's understanding and they will build their vocabulary at the same time.
I would love to hear your experience with this strategy so leave a comment and let me know how it went. Need help or still unsure, comment with your questions.