Working with Parents to Strengthen Reading Skills

The research is strong that parents are helpful allies in building children’s literacy skills if they know what to do to help the teacher. Since many teachers are now meeting with parents for parent-teacher conferences, this is a good time to think about the literacy growth each child is making and how to strengthen that partnership.

A complaint that I often hear from parents is that they want teachers to provide them with more direction on exactly what a child’s strengths and weaknesses in reading are and what they can do to help. Parents often need some specific directions on how to do more than just “listen to the child read.” As you think about your upcoming meetings with the parents of your students, try to think about 1 or 2 strategies that you can share with each parent about their child’s reading skill needs. Would practice with flash cards be helpful? Does the child need to practice sounding out words? What skills can you quickly share with the parent that would increase the support the parent is able to provide to the child on a regular basis.

When home and school communicate about the child’s specific behaviors and needs, the child stands to make much greater gains than when parent and teacher each operate independently. So, take a few minutes to reflect on the needs of each child and how you can communicate these needs during your up coming parent-teacher conferences.

Summer Reading Keeps Reading Skills Sharp

School is finishing up for another year and those lazy days of summer are here. Since reading skills are directly related to use, children who don’t read during the summer can regress and lose some of their reading skill if they don’t read during this summer vacation. Encourage parents to keep children reading through the summer months by providing lists of high quality books for the child’s age range and by posting good summer reading lists on teacher websites. You can also encourage children to participate in local reading programs sponsored by libraries or local community organizations. The more children continue to read during the summer, the more they will retain their skills.