By Tania Hernandez, special to the News
Is your child reading or just decoding? I have been a tutor for about seven years now and have taught a lot of kids who can “decode” well. They read words accurately, but their comprehension skills are quite low.
Here is what parents need to know so they can facilitate the learning of essential language skills.
Reading encompasses many areas: phonemic awareness (understanding orally the letter/sound combination of 128 phonograms and 33 consonant blends), phonics (writing fluently the letter/sound combination not only to form words, but a complete, grammatically correct sentence), fluency (reading at a steady pace, not too slow or too quick, without missing words and not substituting words or being at the frustration level where your energy is spent sounding out letters, which affects comprehension), expression (reading as if you are speaking to someone and not monotone reading; the right balance of cadence, volume and speed is important) and comprehension (taking into account literal, inferential, expressive and critical understanding of what you read).
Drawing conclusions from what you read is very important as it shows that you have not only background knowledge of the subject area, but you will be able to add that information to what is already stated, which ultimately enhances your analytical, expressive and receptive skills.
So how do you help your child?
Do paired reading with him or her: take turns reading a page or read the book first to your child and present it as a game, especially for younger kids (“Let’s play Monkey Mimics Mommy!”).
For older kids, who will not think it “cool” to have their parents reading with them, you might want to get them a comprehension skills workbook so they can work independently. You can then correct it and give them feedback.
I encourage kids to read a newspaper and to be prepared to talk about a topic of their choice. Writing about their activities in a journal (even if it is a boring day!) and reading books about their interests are other strategies.
You might want to employ a trained reading tutor, who should be able to identify the gap in your child’s learning and be able to set up sequential and multi-sensory (auditory, visual, kinesthetic and tactile strategies depending on your child’s way of learning and interests) lesson plans and review lessons to help with correcting the problem areas.
As a positive reinforcement, you can negotiate that if they read, they will be able to get a reward of their choice (within reason!).
Remember, reading skills are vital for all subject areas and for functioning in daily life. Knowing how to read is one the most precious gifts that anyone can possess.
Tania Hernandez is a certified Orton-Gillingham multi-sensory tutor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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