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Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Two Methods of Reading Instruction

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Consider the following two teaching methods in English Language Arts. Mr. Brown hands out a worksheet exercise to his first grade students on circling words that contain the same “ch” sound. This is an explicit exercise on phonics or basic skills instruction in reading. Mrs. Kato reads to the class and asks her first graders to write about the topic after the reading. Mrs. Kato was using the whole language approach to teaching reading. Which is a better method of teaching reading to children? Research says that a combination of the two methods or balanced instruction may be the most effective way to teach the beginning reader. This balanced instruction involves teaching the relationship between letters and sounds in a systematic fashion, and at the same time, children are being read to and reading interesting stories and writing at the same time. Researchers claim that the combination method presents the best of both worlds in teaching reading.

A Balanced Approach to Teaching Reading

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Consider the following two teaching methods in English Language Arts. Mr. Brown hands out a worksheet exercise to his first grade students on circling words that contain the same “ch” sound. This is an explicit exercise on phonics or basic skills instruction in reading. Mrs. Kato reads to the class and asks her first graders to write about the topic after the reading. Mrs. Kato was using the whole language approach to teaching reading. Which is a better method of teaching reading to children?

Research says that a combination of the two methods or balanced instruction may be the most effective way to teach the beginning reader. This balanced instruction involves teaching the relationship between letters and sounds in a systematic fashion, and at the same time, children are being read to and reading interesting stories and writing at the same time. Researchers claim that the combination method presents the best of both worlds in teaching reading.

Your Child and Reading

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

The best way to prepare children for reading instruction is to read interesting books to them. Nearly any book that youngsters can understand and relate to will do. Nursery rhymes and books with repetitive patterns lend themselves to preparation for reading.

Children begin acquiring literacy (reading and writing) long before they enter school. Most school-age children have acquired a fairly extensive vocabulary and sophisticated language system. They have seen traffic signs and billboard advertising, printed messages on television, and printing on cereal boxes. They can tell a McDonald’s logo from that of Burger King and distinguish a box of Fruit Loops from a box of Captain Crunch.

They have seen their parents read books, magazines, newspapers, letters, or bills, and observed them writing notes or letters, filling out forms, and making lists. The children may also have imitated some of these activities. Their parents may have read books to them and provided them with crayons, pencils, and other tools of literacy. All youngsters, no matter how impoverished their environment, have begun the journey along the path that begins with language acquisition and ends in formal literacy.

Excerpts from Creating Reading Instruction For All Children by Thomas G. Gunning, Allyn and Bacon, 1992.

Preparing Students for Reading

Friday, December 21st, 2012

The best way to prepare students for reading instruction is to read interesting books to them. Nearly any book that youngsters can understand and relate to will do. Nursery rhymes and books with repetitive patterns lend themselves to preparation for reading.

Children begin acquiring literacy (reading and writing) long before they enter school. Most school-age children have acquired a fairly extensive vocabulary and sophisticated language system. They have seen traffic signs and billboard advertising, printed messages on television, and printing on cereal boxes. They can tell a McDonald’s logo from that of Burger King and distinguish a box of Fruit Loops from a box of Captain Crunch.

They have seen their parents read books, magazines, newspapers, letters, or bills, and observed them writing notes or letters, filling out forms, and making lists. The children may also have imitated some of these activities. Their parents may have read books to them and provided them with crayons, pencils, and other tools of literacy. All youngsters, no matter how impoverished their environment, have begun the journey along the path that begins with language acquisition and ends in formal literacy.

The Importance of Language in Reading

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Reading is first and foremost a form of communication.   When learning to talk, children develop the concept that words communicate thoughts, emotions, and needs.  When learning to read, they develop the concept that words can be communicated visually as well as orally.  In order that the printed words will have meaning for them, children must have a solid foundation in language.   Mastering spoken language is a key step toward mastering written language.   The more experiences children have, the more they are talked to and listened to, the more stimulation they receive….the more they will be ready to read.  Parents can help their children develop the needed foundation in language by talking with them and listening to them.

  • Talk with your child while doing things together:   folding laundry, driving the car, cooking.
  • Ask your child to sequence the events of the day at dinner or at bedtime.
  • Discuss what you’ve seen on TV or read together.   Ask questions:  Who was your favorite character?  Why?  What would you have done?  What do you think will happen next?
  • Repeat favorite nursery rhymes and stories.  If your child has memorized them, listen while the child tells them to you.
  • Encourage questions and try to answer them.

Parents Influence Student Reading Skills

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

The importance of parental involvement in their child’s reading activities does not diminish because of the prevalence of computers and technology.  School-age children still enjoy listening to a good story.  A child’s entrance into a learning program should not mean the end of a parent’s reading to the child.  Early learners like fairy tales and books that have corresponding puppets or other toys.  First graders like easy readers because they can recognize some of the words; they also like picture books with strong characters and a solid story.  At the second and third grade level books should be somewhat above the child’s current reading (but not emotional) level.  Nonfiction works, “How to Do It” books, nonsense books, and riddle books are popular with children in these grade levels.  As with pre-school children, parents should encourage active participation when they read to their school-age children.

At some point, a child may want to read independently.  Many times, however, when the parent stops reading to the child, the child stops reading.  Studies have shown that students who read at home, not surprisingly, improve their reading ability.   A closer look at the home reveals that parents and siblings in the home also read during their leisure time.  There are books available in the home, or there are trips to the library.  Television and computer use is limited.

If a home does not have books for children, and if there is no library close to the home, a parent can use a newspaper, catalog or magazine to encourage a child to read.  Parents often are seen reading a newspaper or a magazine, so that role model is ready-made.  Not only is a newspaper or a catalog inexpensive, but it has something of interest for nearly everyone.  A parent might clip a news article and ask the child to read the article to him or her.  Pictures can be chosen, and the child can either make up a story about the pictures or list descriptive words that tell about the pictures.  An appealing news or magazine story can be clipped into paragraphs; the child can read the paragraphs and put them into the correct sequence.

To keep reading skills sharp, a child should read for at least fifteen minutes a day.  Reading also can be built into everyday activities.  A chid can help a parent prepare a meal by reading recipes to the parent.  Locating names, emergency numbers, or ads requires reading.  While grocery shopping, a child can find specific items on shelves or read label information.  A child can read a restaurant menu to the parent.  If the family is planning a vacation, the child can read maps and tour guides.

Parent involvement means instilling the values of self-discipline, hard work, and responsibility in children.  It means an emphasis on the importance of learning.  It means stepping away from electronic devices in order to provide your child opportunities to practice reading skills.

Six Ways to Increase Oral Reading Skills

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

When reading orally, children must not only decode the printed words on a page, they must also communicate the author’s meaning to others by varying the voice volume, pitch, phrasing, pauses, tone and reading rate.  When reading orally, children must understand what they are reading in order to communicate the meaning successfully.  As a result, the regular practice of oral reading boosts children’s comprehension, producing gains that will transfer to their silent, independent reading of fiction or nonfiction.

Activities to increase oral reading skills:

  1. Reading Specific Sentences Aloud. Have your child read a passage silently.  Ask questions and direct him/her to locate and read the sentence that has the answer.
  2. Multimedia Models. Play records and tape recordings of poetry, prose and plays.  Encourage discussion of  the way the speakers use their voices to convey meaning.
  3. Reading Duets. Have your child choose a reading partner.  Alternate the partners as readers and listeners.
  4. One Minute or Less Oral Reading Fun. Provide daily opportunities for your child to read orally, such as reading notices, signs or advertisements.
  5. Choral Reading and Play-Reading. Select poems, dramatic scenes from stories or story description to rehearse for choral readings.  Model the chosen selection.  Have your child choose a part to practice reading orally.
  6. Recording Oral Reading. Tape or video record plays, choral readings or radio dramas that your child has prepared and practiced.

Gifted and Talented

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Although we place high hopes for a worthwhile future on the gifted and talented youth of today, we often neglect this group.  Many gifted children are left to their own devices in school as well as at home.

Contrary to the popular misconceptions that they will do better without interference and that they will succeed on their own, some gifted children experience academic, social, and personal problems when they do not receive support from society and parents.  Gifted children display their abilities in a variety of ways, each unique to the individual child.  In general, for most children, giftedness is demonstrated by performance of tasks and understanding of concepts usually associated with much older children.  Reading signs, magazines, and books, and performing mathematical computations at ages three to five; speaking complete sentences and using abstract vocabulary at age two and three….all indicate superior intellectual abilities.

Often the gifted child feels isolated from the rest of the world because of the exceptional abilities he or she possesses.  Facing these feelings of difference alone can create emotional problems, disruptive behaviors, or withdrawal from the frustrating situation.  Parents play an important role in the development of exceptional abilities in children, especially in encouraging a favorable attitude toward these tendencies.

Because of their heightened perceptions and sensitivities, many gifted children need an environment that is secure emotionally and stimulating intellectually to allow their abilities to flourish.  Too many adults overlook their needs, however, assuming that these children already have advantages other lack.  Consequently, much is left to parents to provide for the gifted.  Working with the child and with other parents, they can accomplish this awesome, often frustrating, task.

Seven Questions for Your Child’s Reading

Monday, April 30th, 2012

In choosing books for children the following was recently found in a book of poetry.  Although aimed at boys of the period the guidelines are worthy  today of consideration by all parents:

Read your children’s books yourself.  Or better still, get your child to read them aloud to you.  Ask yourself during the reading:

  • Does this book lay stress on villainy, deception or treachery?
  • Are all the incidents wholesome, probable and true to life?
  • Does it show young people contemptuous toward their elders and successfully opposing them?
  • Do the young characters in the book show respect for teachers and others in authority?
  • Are these characters the kind of young people you wish your children to associate with?
  • Does the book speak of and describe pranks, practical jokes and pieces of thoughtless and cruel mischief as though they were funny and worthy of imitation.
  • Is the English good and is the story written in good style?

Adapted from One Hundred and One Famous Poems (1958)

Twelve Tips to Encourage Reading at Home

Monday, February 13th, 2012


Learning to read is much like learning any other skill. It requires a combination of instruction, experimentation, and practice. But the first step must be motivation. The child must want to learn to read. Parents can encourage their children to read  by demonstrating that they think reading  is important. Parents can help their
children discover the benefits of reading:
new ideas…relaxation…adventure…fun.

  • Buy as many children’s books as you can afford.
  • Give books as gifts.
  • Visit the library regularly.
  • Allow your children to choose their own books.  Don’t rush them.
  • Show your children that you enjoy reading. Make sure they see you reading newspapers, magazines, and books.
  • Set up a special place for reading.
  • Encourage older children to read to younger children.
  • Surround your child with words; point out street signs; label objects in the house such as table, desk, and stove.
  • Play word games like Scrabble, Anagrams, and Ad Lib.
  • Watch educational TV programs together. Some stress reading development.
  • Read to your child, especially at bedtime. Reread favorite stories.
  • Ask you child to read to you.

Stress the things your children do well in reading rather than any mistakes they make. Remember: Success breeds success.