3 tips to help your early reader flourish

3 tips to help your early reader flourish

Rebecca Bush

Learning to read is not easy, so our job is to support early readers in every way we can. As educators, our job at Bloom Academy is to provide high-quality, sequential, cumulative, and multisensory instruction that supports every aspect of literacy development at a pace that makes sense for each unique child. The big question as parents though is, “what can I do to help my child learn to read?” Thankfully, here are three easy to implement ways to help every child flourish. They may seem simple, but the science of learning to read is clear.

1. Talk to Your Child

Having regular conversations is the best way to strengthen your child’s oral language base, giving them a rich vocabulary and burgeoning syntactic knowledge. Speaking and listening are two of the four language domains and are essential in your child’s literacy development. One of the top factors in learning to read successfully is making sure that children understand what they are reading in the first place. If a reader knows at least 90% of the words on a page, they will most likely comprehend what they read.

At home, you can facilitate the learning of new words by using sticky notes or white boards to start a word wall. Place it in a visible location so that whenever your family encounters a new word, you can write it down together and post it to see again and again. Ask your children to draw pictures to explain the words and use them in a sentence. You could even start a ‘word of the day’ or ‘idiom of the day’ for everyone to discuss and talk about. This encourages conversation and builds comprehension in a fun way. They’ll be learning without even realizing it!

When we engage your readers’ minds in the give and take flow of a conversation, we are helping them understand that listening carefully to information is important. We are exposing them to new words that they have never heard before. We are helping guide them towards more complex sentences. We are over annunciating tricky words to help build a phonemic memory. We are mirroring correct subject / verb agreement or sentence construction when we hear the “mistakes” young learners typically make when speaking. In short, we are giving them the strong oral language base that readers draw upon in order to comprehend, analyze, and apply the meaning behind all those words on the page.

2. Post a Map

Along with a deep and wide vocabulary, background knowledge is essential for reading comprehension. Not only do young readers need to be able to decode the letters on the page and understand what that word means, but they also need to know the context that the story takes place in. A big part of this is a growing understanding of the world around them and the world we live in. If you’re going to read Cendrillon: A Carribean Cinderella by Robert D. San Souci, you can use the map on the wall to understand where the Carribean is and how the climate and culture there may impact the story. When you’re going to have your favorite green curry from the Thai restaurant down the street, you can see where Thailand is and connect all the little pieces of information floating around in your child’s brain together into one well-connected, beautiful semantic map. You are deepening their understanding of the world and giving them the context within which to understand it.

3. Ask Questions

Children are naturally curious and we want to encourage that love of learning. As parents, you can use guiding questions to help your child discover for themselves what bus to take to see grandmother, or which book to look in to find that answer, or what items they need to remember to pack for school. Asking questions makes them think for themselves and not simply accept the answer given to them.

You can also ask questions when sharing stories together and you want to make sure you are posing a variety of question types, from the simple to the complex. You can think of questions “from the author,” such as “just there” questions or questions “between the lines.” These promote comprehension and recall of information. We also want to dig more deeply though into the “author and my mind” questions that build inferential and critical thinking skills. “I wonder” questions are a great way to encourage thinking beyond the text and expanding their imaginations. Every child has a beautiful brain and a mind of their own; encourage them to use it!

Dr. Seuss said it best, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go!” Reading is so powerful and opens up doors we never even imagined existed. Bloom Academy is here to be your partner in your child’s success, but when we work together, that’s when your child truly flourishes.

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