Did you know one of the most prominent indicators of a successful reader is the amount of time spent actually reading? Let’s figure it out — mathematically!
Student A reads 20 minutes five nights of every week;
Student B reads only 4 minutes a night…or not at all!
Step 1: Multiply minutes a night x 5 times each week.
Student A reads 20 min. x 5 times a week = 100 mins./week
Student B reads 4 minutes x 5 times a week = 20 minutes
Step 2: Multiply minutes a week x 4 weeks each month.
Student A reads 400 minutes a month.
Student B reads 80 minutes a month.
Step 3: Multiply minutes a month x 9 months/school year
Student A reads 3600 min. in a school year.
Student B reads 720 min. in a school year.
Student A practices reading the equivalent of ten whole school days a year.
Student B gets the equivalent of only two school days of reading practice.
By the end of 6th grade if Student A and Student B maintain these same reading habits,
Student A will have read the equivalent of 60 whole school days.
Student B will have read the equivalent of only 12 school days.
One would expect the gap of information retained will have widened considerably and so, undoubtedly, will school performance. How do you think Student B will feel about him/herself as a student?
Some questions to ponder:
+ Which student would you expect to read better?
+ Which student would you expect to know more?
+ Which student would you expect to write better?
+ Which student would you expect to have a better vocabulary?
+ Which student would you expect to be more successful in school….and in life?
No matter how busy parents are, there are things they can do to help their children. Parents of first- and second-graders in the “School Transition Study,” conducted by the Harvard Family Research Project, have discovered creative ways to stay involved in their children’s learning and development. Researchers conducting the survey learned important and useful tips to share with busy parents.
Use Your Time Well
- Organize your time. One single parent of four who is going back to school tries hard to organize her class schedule so that she has time with her children. She is able to be home with them in the afternoons on most school days. In another family where the mother and father both work full time, they are able to organize their work schedules so that one of the parents is always at home with the children. One day a week after school, the children walk to their mother’s workplace where they wait a short time with her until their father picks them up.
- Do a few things at once. One father arranges to do quiet household chores right beside his daughter who does her homework at the kitchen table. Then the father is there to answer questions. Another mother has her daughter start her homework in the family’s car while they are waiting for her older brother to get out of school. The car is a quiet place where they can talk together.
- Find other people to help. One single parent who cannot be home in the afternoon or evening has the babysitter help the children with homework. Another single parent who works two jobs during the summer arranges for her son to get taken to his neighborhood summer program every morning by his grandfather, who lives nearby. When the program is over, the mother’s friend takes the child to football practice and then back home, where the mother serves everyone a late dinner.
Balance Work Schedules and Family
- Do some school things at the beginning of the day. One single father in the study who works a late shift uses the morning when he is home to check over homework with his son. Then he takes him to school. Sometimes he will sit in the classroom and watch or chat with the teacher before he goes to work.
- Make breakfast the big family meal. Another mother who also works late has her high school-aged daughter make a simple dinner for the younger children. Then the mother cooks a big hot breakfast every morning when she is home before the children go to school.
- Do things differently on the weekend. One mother leaves for her job every morning before the children are up. But on Sundays she wakes them up early, so she can share time with them before she goes to work. A special thing for this family is eating lunch at the restaurant where the mother works.
Ways to Stay Involved with Your Child’s School When You Are Busy
Being involved with school is an important way to show you care about your child’s learning.
- How busy parents stay involved at school. One mother, who cannot volunteer because of her work schedule, finds it easier to go to meetings at night, and has been to some school council meetings. Another mother volunteers to help keep things organized in the halls at the end of the school days, when she is there picking up her child. In a family where the mother is taking care of a baby, the father is able to help out in his older son’s classroom two hours a week.
Source: Early Childhood Digest, Sept. 1999, National Institute on Early Childhood Development and Education, and U.S. Dept. of Education, 202/219-1935.
Here are some tips for families to help their children become better readers. Reading Comprehension Newsletter
Are you familiar with Reading Rockets website? It has a lot of great information and activities for students, families, and schools. Check out this webpage with information about helping your child with comprehension skills:
Are you familiar with “Touch Math” or “Touch Money”? Here’s a great explanation of how it works.
Sight words are words that a reader can recognize and read without sounding out each individual letter. Many sight words are hard to sound out phonetically and must be memorized. I suggest printing a copy of the sight word list and practicing. It is expected that second grade students can read most of the 1,200 words on the list without hesitation. Spelling the sight words correctly would be an added bonus since these words are used frequently in students’ writing.
Here are a few suggestions for how to practice learning sight words.
- PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE! The more a beginning reader sees words and practices reading them, the easier reading becomes.
- MAKE FLASHCARDS Flashcards work well for many students. Each word should be written neatly on an index card. Write large enough so the reader can touch each letter as they are saying the sounds. In the lower right corner of each card, write the list number that the word is from. Keep the cards for review.
- WRITE THE WORDS THAT ARE TRICKY Although learning to read sight words IS NOT a spelling activity, some people memorize things by repeatedly writing them down.
- USE COLORS With a colored marker or crayon, outline the shape of the word. Pay close attention to blends, such as th, wh, sh, tr… Blends should be underlined or boxed together so the reader has a visual cue to remember to say the sounds as one, not choppy as two.
- VOWELS Usually, when two vowels are together the first one does the talking, the last one does the walking. In the word coat, the o makes a long o sound and the a is silent (the first one does the talking, the last one does the walking.) An e at the end of the word is silent because it is tired from helping the other vowel say its name. For example: In the word TAPE, the a says its name (a) and the e is silent.
(Reprinted from Karen Powell’s website)