Reading is one of the most important skills you can help your child develop. It is, to quite an extent, an acquired skill and can be honed with the right guidance, practice, and application. While most parents think science and math are the real career-pivots, reading is the actual game changer!
Why is success in reading so important?
Consider this – in the US, the students who don’t read proficiently by the 3rd grade are 4 times more likely to drop out of school. You can check 10 more such facts about the reading proficiency of American kids and the implications here.
These facts are not to intimidate you, but only to emphasize the importance of kids’ success in reading. Reading as a habit can be best honed from grade 2 to 8, this is when the brain is most flexible and receptive. Regardless of where your child currently stands, there is always a way to help them become better at reading.
There are 5 key skills for making reading a success, some of these may seem like manifestations of being able to read and comprehend better:
1. Phonemic Awareness
Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate individual phonemes (individual sounds in spoken words).
It starts with early readers being able to identify ‘what sound’ and ‘what word’. At Talentnook, we have curated our Reading Program in a way that ensures these concepts are practiced in each lesson. For example, in our lessons,
- Lower-case consonants and vowels are printed at the top of the lesson sheet and practiced for recognition and mastery
- Common sight words are printed on the lesson sheet below the “What Sound?” activity for context and practice
Building phonemic awareness starts methodically generally from grade 2 and goes all the way up to grade 5. At home also, you as a parent can help your child build phonemic awareness by doing simple things like:
- Ask your child to decode simple 2-4 letter words (e.g, “how many different sounds do you hear in the world dazzle?”)
- Use songs and rhymes designed to build phonemic awareness (e.g. the Apples and Bananas song)
- Encourage your kids to think of rhyming words (e.g. “what words rhyme with fox, focus on the sound o and x”?)
2. Vocabulary and Literary Devices
Vocabulary is the range of words that make up a language. A literary device is a tool used by writers to hint at larger themes, ideas, and meaning in a story or piece of writing.
Having a good vocabulary is both a by-product and an enabler for reading. Didn’t quite get this? Well, children develop vocabulary better as they read and grasp more. A good vocabulary in turn helps them in reading faster and in a more nuanced way.
An English tutor can help specifically with building your child’s vocabulary and knowledge of literary devices. There are also a bunch of at-home activities that you can get started with:
- Encourage your child to look up the meanings of new words. Get them a handy pocket dictionary or an app
- Reward and appreciate their usage of new words
- Ask your child to differentiate between synonyms, for example, there is a difference between saying “I am aghast” vs. “oh, I am surprised” vs. “I am amazed”. This may be particularly useful for children in grade 4 and upwards
- Get them subscribed to vocabulary games online. We in fact, love the free ones on vocabulary.com
- Encourage your child to spot and underline common literary devices viz similes, metaphors, and personification (the three most basic ones!). Let them do this for a while and watch them use and apply it in their own writing very soon!
3. Reading Comprehension
Understanding and processing a piece of text while understanding the facts and arguments in full perspective.
From the SAT and ACT to the AP Exams, reading comprehension appears as one of the most standard ways of testing proficiency in English. Learning the art of reading helps greatly here – a good reader might take only 3 minutes on a standardized test to comprehend a small passage while others may struggle and lose up to 15-20 minutes on the same!
Let’s bust a myth – more reading does NOT imply getting better at comprehending too. Reading with a systematic approach and the right analytical mindset is what makes the difference. And this is what reading comprehension is all about. It’s literally the differentiator between kids who are genuinely good at reading and those who’re not.
At Talentnook’s Reading Program we focus on various functional aspects of reading viz:
- Critically analyzing and reflecting on what they read and how it impacts their comprehension
- Learning to compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated
- Being able to tell the difference between first-person and third-person narrations in popular children’s books
- Reading fluently and being able to compare, contrast and cite supporting evidence
4. Speed and Accuracy
Reading at an optimal pace without losing any key information or ideas.
There are several methods deployed by students for speed reading – chunking, minimizing subvocalization (reducing pronunciation of each word in the mind), etc. To help your child with reading speed and accuracy, you must consult a private tutor who specializes in the area. At home, you can aid the learning process by doing the following:
- Set a timer and a goal for an everyday reading exercise, get them engaged by including their friends in the activity
- Ask them questions after they read a piece of text to ensure they don’t speed read and sacrifice comprehension
- Encourage them to write a short 4-5 line summary to help them retain the information better
Also read: Reading Norms| Words per Minute by Grade
5. Creative Writing
When kids practice creative writing, they read better i.e. appreciate and comprehend the texts better. It’s like practicing algebra to become good at mathematical thinking!
Creative writing can’t be taught, it can only be unlocked! That’s what we encourage at Talentnook. A key part of our Reading Program, a 7-week creative writing course will help your child explore the art of storytelling. They will start by reading several genres of short stories and understanding the mechanics involved in creating a compelling story: plot, dialogue, figurative language, characters, imagery, etc.
On joining the course, the children are encouraged and assisted wherever required to draw on all materials that were analyzed in class. This is when they get their chance to create their very own story! In the 6 classes of 60 minutes duration each, your child will hone their own unique writing style while making the best of guidance and learnings.
As a parent, all you must do to better your child’s creative writing skills is to – BELIEVE in them and encourage them to cultivate their own writing style.
Develop these 5 reading skills with the Talentnook Reading Program
The Talentnook Writing academy has recently launched the “Elements of Reading” program for elementary and middle schoolers who aim to accomplish better reading habits through instruction and practice. Program instructors work for your child to assess their reading levels before working out a learning path for them.
Following a research-backed technique for effective reading instruction, the reading program breaks down each reading level not by the child’s grade, but by reading efficiency level determined by pre-assessments.
The program is run by handpicked tutors who are highly qualified and have extensive experience in training elementary and middle school students in all areas of reading and writing.
Still not sure about your child’s current reading proficiency and specific learning needs?
Let’s help you get started right away with a customized ELA/ Reading Assessment. Share your information here and one of our instructors will personally work with you to analyze your child’s writing, reading comprehension, grammar, or reading/phonemic awareness skills.
1. A Parent’s Guide to Empower Struggling Middle School Readers