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Listening to Your Children Read Aloud to You
Beginning readers profit from reading aloud to someone who can provide them with daily, gentle, constructive feedback, positive encouragement, and praise.

Most problems that parents and children encounter when children read aloud at home stem from a single source: books that are too difficult. When children try to slog through a text at frustration level, the result is often just that: frustration.

When you listen to your children read aloud at home, make sure that they read aloud from text on their independent or instructional levels. A good rule of thumb is at least 90% accuracy and a satisfactory rate of speed. This means that if a child is making more than 1-2 mistakes in every 10 words, and/or reading very, very slowly - the text is TOO HARD! Choose an easier text for both your sakes!

Check with your children's teachers to determine appropriate levels for home reading. Children's sections in many local libraries now have leveling systems that make it relatively easy to choose books that are appropriate for your children's reading levels. Leveled book lists are available at http://www.uurc.utah.edu/General/LeveledBooks.php.

Here are a few more tips to keep this experience upbeat and productive:

  • When your children make errors as they read aloud, don't jump and point at the error right away! Wait until the end of the sentence or phrase to see if they self-correct on their own. If they do, a simple comment of "Nice fixing!" will encourage this important self-monitoring behavior.
  • If the child fails to self-correct an error by the end of the phrase or sentence, say, "Something tricked you; try this part again" and point to the beginning of the phrase or sentence. Remember, if errors are plentiful, the text is too hard! Choose an easier text!
  • When your beginning reader struggles with an unfamiliar word, look at the word and make a quick decision. Can the word be blended easily (e.g., sss - - - iii- - -ttt ... 'sit')? If not, point your pencil under the first sound in the word and ask your child, "Sound?" Once the child responds with the correct beginning sound, you say the word to let the reading go on.
  • Once your child reaches an end-of-first-grade reading ability, look at the unfamiliar word to see if it can be blended (see above) or "chunked" (e.g., If I know 'lake,' then this must be 'brake'). If so, ask your child, "Can you sound it out?" or "Do you see a chunk that you know?" Encourage the child to that information to identify the word. If the word is large or difficult, revert to easier strategy: point a pencil under the first sound in the word and ask your child, "Sound?" Once the child responds with the correct beginning sound, you say the word to let the reading go on.
  • Remember, the goal is for your child to READ!! Don't get bogged down in teaching, giving advice, phonics lessons and so on.

Help Your Children Become Automatic on High Frequency Words
Words like 'the,' 'you,' 'could,' and 'come' are known as high frequency words. These words are the "glue" that holds text together. They make up a high proportion of written text, yet they are not easily "sounded out." Often, they need to be memorized by repetition. One way to help your children bring these words to "automatic" levels is to use flashcards. A list of high frequency words is available in the Word Study section of Services.

Build in Daily Time for Your Children to Read Silently from Text They Enjoy
Research suggests that the most effective way for children to build their vocabulary and knowledge about the world is to read, READ, READ!!! Be sure to build "time for reading" into your busy family lives. Once children are able to read silently - somewhere around mid-first to end-of-first-grade reading ability - they benefit enormously from a daily schedule that includes 10 minutes of oral and then 10 minutes of silent reading. Increase the amount of silent reading time for your older children, but be sure to keep some oral reading time for those who tend to struggle.