To become a proficient reader, you have to---read! Quiet as it is kept, students’ read all the time,they just don't necessarily read what is given to them in school. Why? Students say the material is not interesting to them; the printed page, itself, may hurt their eyes, they may not understand the words, or the topic has no meaning for them. What’s the point of reading, anyway? Exactly! Reading should have a purpose, and a point! That part should be explained by the teacher. The other part of reading rests squarely on the shoulders of the student, with parental support. Students must understand that the same discipline needed in practicing the skills needed for cheer leading, sports or a science experiment is the same discipline needed in practicing the skill of reading. You learn it by doing it, and you get better the more you do it. So, students should not expect all of their reading assignments to be short and easy. Students WILL be assigned a variety of novels, classic literature, and non-fiction informational text that will be new and unfamiliar to them. They cannot get mad at the teacher if they become frustrated with the assignments. They should ask for help and practice the strategies that will help them understand what they are reading. And, those strategies may differ depending on the subject matter – and the child. All students do not learn the same way. Some can understand directions that are written on the board; others may need to hear the directions, first, before they understand what is written on the board; some may not even be able to see the board. As students progress from middle school to high school, the reading assignments become more complex and homework expectations increase. Reading assignments are designed to exposure students to a variety of subject matter on which many of the questions on the standardized tests are based. These tests are less memorization of facts, and more critical thinking, such as, can you read a passage, take a position on the question being asked, find evidence in the text to support your position, and write your response in correct paragraph format. Students must approach the reading of complex text with the same “tenacity” they use to approach a new sports technique. Over time, your vocabulary improves, your reading speed and fluency improves, your conversation improves, your understanding improves, and your test scores improve. What students learn in Grades 6, 7 and 8 is important for them to be successful in Grade 9 – high school – which is when the real emphasis on “college and career readiness” begins. Grade 9 is when colleges begin to review students’ academic transcript. Students must start now, at the beginning of the school year, to make a personal commitment to become proficient readers. One way to begin is to attend, the 17th Annual National Book Festival on Saturday, September 2nd at the Washington Convention Center. It is a great opportunity for the whole family to be exposed to fun literacy activities, and find interesting materials, for all ages, to read and take home. What can parents do to help their children enjoy reading?
First, make sure to include a vision screening with their physical exams. Some students may need glasses.
Then, provide a variety of print reading materials around the house or take them to a book store, and let them choose something they like.
Monitor their homework, to help with challenging assignments. If the work is too easy, contact the teacher, so that your child is getting the academic stimulation and rigor that they need.
Check their written work for correct spelling and grammar. Students tend to write like they speak, and how we write and speak with family and friends, informally (including email and texts), does not usually translate into the required formal academic essay format. This aspect is critical as your child begins to produce personal essays for college admission and scholarships. Together, we can give our children the tools they need to be successful. Reading is a key tool!!