Monday, October 19, 2015

7 Tips to Teach PaREnTs How to Read at Home

As a mom of 4, sometimes I DREAD homework time with my own kids. Two of my kiddos are extremely excited to complete homework and are often disappointed when they don't have any (Crazy right?!?!). The other two are more "normal" and it can often be like pulling teeth to get them to do it. Sometimes I don't know how to help them (5th grade math, 12th grade Lit) but I do my best.  However, as a teacher, I KNOW that they need the extra practice to become independent and critical thinkers when reading. I also know that many parents do NOT know how or what to say to their child when they are reading with them at home.  Parents will often just hand their child a book and say to them “read this”, but then continue to wash dishes, fold laundry, pick up toys,etc. They are not really engaging their child, therefor the reading homework is not really serving its purpose. To avoid this, we as teachers need to not only train our littles how to complete their reading homework but also train their parents on what to say to them while they are reading. Here is a short list and a freebie on what you can say to your parents in order to implement this into your students home lives:

1. Set aside 10 minutes of uninterrupted time to be with your child while they are reading - let the phone ring, turn your cell phone alerts and alarms off, or better yet leave the phone in another room, turn the t.v. and the video games/computer/Ipads off.

2. Get them excited about reading a book - Pull out some stories on your child's level of reading and let them choose the story. Many teachers will send home books on your child’s reading level, however if they do not, you can ask your child’s teacher what level they are on. Once you know their reading level, you can go to and purchase these books for a great price (usually $2-5). Or you could even just look up titles and see if you already have it at home and if you don’t head to your local library.

3. Point to the words with them -  Model how you keep track of the words you are reading as you read. The pointing will gradually fade with time as they learn to self track. If they are having trouble with pointing to the words, you can get some fun pointers from the dollar store to have them use. (There are little finger lasers, witch fingers with red nails, magic wands, anything will work.)

4. Model seeing the punctuation before you even read the sentence so you know HOW to read the sentence - say to them, “Look their is an exclamation point so I know that I need to sound really excited when I read this sentence” or “Oh, this sentence ends with a question mark so I know my voice will go up toward the end of this sentence”. Then read the sentence exactly how you explained to do.  A great book to practice this with is called “Yo! Yes?” by Chris Raschka.

5. Put voices to the characters to help them distinguish between them - Changing each characters voice may seem a little silly, but when you do it children begin to understand the character as its own “person” just like he or she is and that the characters can have individual personalities just like a real person can have. (Plus its fun to stop acting like a grown up sometimes and just dive into a make-believe persona for a short while.) This is called reading with expression and the more you do it, the more fun the story will be!

6. Model your thinking - When we read as adults we often ask questions and find the answers to those questions, we predict what we think will happen next or “who done it”, we make connections from our own life experiences to the story, and we describe the characters personality traits and compare them to ourselves. This may seem like a common, easy thing that we do while reading but children have to learn how to think this way.  So as you are reading and thinking these things, say them out loud so your child can hear how a reader should be thinking. Engage them in your thinking by asking them “What do you think will happen next?” or “How did the character feel when that happened?” and “Have you ever felt that way before?” or by saying, “I wonder why the character wanted to do that?”. If you come upon an answer to these questions while you are reading, model out loud to your child how you found the answer in the story or how you used your schema (back ground knowledge of events) to answer it.

7. ENJOY the time with them -  Your kiddos not only crave the time with you but they enjoy the child like behaviors that you succumb to when you read with them! Soak it all in because before you know it they will be grown and will not be able to curl up in your lap with a good book any longer.  It is just as much for their benefit as for yours!!!!

Click Parent Reading Task Card to get this FREEBIE for your parents to use as they read with their child each night.

Happy Reading!


  1. Love this! My favorite tip is number 7. They grow up so fast! Excellent ideas.

  2. Thanks Cara! Great ideas…thank you!

  3. Great advice... I'm partial to #1... MAKE time, uninterrupted time, without all your devices dinging and vibrating all the time. I think children need to know we can unplug from our daily to-do lists to spend quality time with them. It makes them feel important and that's important. That's everything.