How to Help Your Child Build Basic Reading Skills

By the end of elementary school, it's important that your child has mastered basic reading skills. Although middle school reading teachers will provide interventions for struggling readers, middle school English/language arts classes tend to focus on more advanced skills. Read on to find out about how you can help your child learn these skills.

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Helping Your Child Master Reading Skills

Reading at Grade Level

First of all, it's necessary to determine if your child is reading texts at the appropriate grade level. By the end of the 5th grade, your child will be required to know the difference between various kinds of literature, from novels to poetry to drama. He or she will also probably be required to compare and contrast different texts. Your child will need to read critically, form opinions, make predictions and deconstruct ideas presented in a variety of different kinds of narratives. A mastery of basic grammar, sentence and paragraph structure, spelling, vocabulary and punctuation will also be required.

Reading Fluently

Fluency is a measure of how smoothly and eloquently your child is able to read a text. Can your child read texts fluently? One way to tell is whether he or she stumbles over words when reading advanced texts. Choose a passage that your child is struggling with and have him or her read it aloud several times. Record your child so that you can play it back and hear the improvement together.

Mastering Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension is a gauge of how well your elementary school student can interpret and understand texts of all kinds. You can help your child with reading comprehension by encouraging as much reading in your household as possible. Whether they're for school or for pleasure, read some of the same texts as your child and discuss them. Ask your child for his or her opinions about characters and events presented in a narrative. Have your child try to predict what might happen next.

A major aspect of reading comprehension is vocabulary. Can your child figure out the meaning of an unfamiliar word from the context clues? Go through whatever your child's reading and create vocabulary lists. Discuss the new words with your child and begin working them into everyday conversations around the house.

Resources that Can Help Your Child

If you notice that your child still needs to work on basic reading skills, you can talk to his or her teacher about options at school. There are probably after-school, weekend and summer reading programs at your child's school, local libraries and community centers. You may also hire a private reading tutor to work one-on-one with your child and help strengthen the areas where it's most needed.

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