What Every Parent Should Know About Supporting Their Child at Home.

A 2015 NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) reports that 1/3 of 4th grade students in the U.S. are reading below grade level. Additionally, there is a 90% chance that a child who is a poor reader at the end of the 1st grade would remain a poor reader at the end of 4th grader.

Research shows that authentic parental involvement can lessen these statistics and increase academic success with children. Students outperform others on standardized tests as well as produce higher grades overall in the classroom.  

As a literacy specialist, private tutor, and more importantly a parent myself I’ve seen positive results with the role that parents play in students’ academic achievements.

These results include but not limited to:

·          Higher grades

·         Overall  positive educational outcomes

·          Higher levels of student literacy

However, we are living in new times which demand a greater level of knowledge and reading skills. Everything is so different than the way it used to be.

What exactly should parents be doing at home to ensure the levels of success?    

I wanted to know the answer to this question straight from the source and as a result I spoke with several parents. My enlightening conversations led to revelations about their successes at home as well as their concerns and anxieties around their child’s education.

“Last year was a bit challenging academically because he was kinda going from a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a big pond.”

This mom was confident that her 15 year-old son was on the right track to a good and successful career. She began reading to her child at a very early age and attributes her proactiveness in this area as playing a critical role in his academic success.

Yes, it is true that literacy-rich home environment is more vital to success literacy development in young children than even exceptional schools!

Home literacy should provide language-rich environment that seize every opportunity to build your child’s vocabulary tool box.

In fact, there are 30 million words that separate children in homes with no verbal interactions versus homes saturated with language, words, and conversation! Wow! However, our conversation turned to the present day and how he ran into a few roadblocks in school that began to create anxiety for her sophomore son. 

Open communication between son and mom became a priority, as well as the need for soft skills such as time management and figuring out his individual strengths and weaknesses in the learning process.

Parents should be empowered to ask specific tailored questions of your child’s school and teacher that will propel his or her education forward! Just like Nike’s ubiquitous slogan… Just do it!  

“Even with the best teacher I can’t force my kid to comprehend at home.”

After a conversation with a mom of three school-aged children she had concerns about her 4th grader and his struggles with reading comprehension.  She felt “pretty good” about her younger children’s education as of now, but was wondering how she could get her oldest to the head of the class in the area of reading. For parents, understanding the reading process is critical in effectively advancing their children from the back to the front of the class academically.

Cognitively, our brain responds to ideas that are presented in a systematic way. In other words, the “system” or process of reading entail steps your child should do before, during, and after reading. When reading at home, try to build background knowledge about a book before you actually read the book! Use the book title and to make predictions about what happen in the story.  

Kids love the suspense of finding out whether their prediction was right! It builds motivation to read the book to the end! Also, if pictures are a part of the book take a “picture walk” and discuss what is happening in the illustrations.

Next, while reading stop and make connections with the story. Ask your child, “Do you remember when you….?”  Or, “Have you ever experienced….?” Reading should be an interactive event! 

Lastly, after you’ve read the book check your child’s ability to recall the details of the story. Have your child recall the story events through drawing or by simple oral retell. However, brain research shows writing information down with helps learners remember what was read even more! So put pen to paper!!

“They tell us to help our kids at home, but I need help teaching him.”

A first grade parent is concerned with helping her child at home. 

At home she encourages her child to “sound out the words” to figure out unknown words.

However, she has run out of ideas on how to accelerate his ability to read on grade level. 

Instead of just sounding out words her son can strategically:

  • Get his mouth ready to say the beginning sound.
  • Look at pictures for clues.
  • Flip the vowel sound. Try a long vowel sound or a short vowel sound.
  • Look for a chunk or word part he knows.
  • Stretch the word slowly and then put the sounds together.

These are simple reading strategies for early readers.

“Read to your kids at home. What does that mean? I’ve been hearing that since he was in kindergarten!”

The mother of my third grader asks for extra reading tips.  Although, her son is reading above grade level she desires more for him. As a former teacher of a standardized testing grade, I modeled these reading test-taking strategies:

  • Read the questions first.
  • Summarize each paragraph in the margin .
  • “Talk” to the text by asking questions about what is being read.
  • Annotate (highlight, circle, underline) important details throughout the passage/story.

Reading to and with your child can be instructive as well as fun! Enjoy these precious moments with your child. That’s where the greatest learning truly happens.:)

Our most important priority and goal for our children is to love them unconditionally and to provide the best for them.  Giving your child academic tools to be successful and confident readers is one way to help give them a head start in working toward their personal potential .  

As parents we are more than capable of filling in the gap between home and school to ensure our children a successful life and career! So let’s start building strong readers!

Hello! I’m Shauntelle and the proud mother of a beautiful daughter Madelyn Grace.  Currently, I am an adjunct professor of reading and education and private tutor.  I have a M.Ed. in reading and 17 wonderful years as a classroom teacher, literacy specialist, and reading interventionist.  I am completing my dissertation in Language and Literacy Studies at the University of North Texas.