If your child is struggling with reading comprehension, reading like a robot, or just unwilling to pick up a book and read, you may be shocked by the advice of experienced educator, former school administrator and author Kumar Sathy (www.kumarsathy.com).
“I firmly believe that the best thing a parent can do is resist the temptation to intervene, interrupt, and interrogate while a child is reading,” Sathy explains. “We’ve lost sight of what actually turned us into lifelong readers when we were young: reading, not reading comprehension or dry passages from a workbook, but just plain old reading. I’m not saying we should abandon reading comprehension questions entirely. I’m just saying that kids need a break. They need opportunities to read what they want, when they want, and without interruption or evaluation.”
Sathy offers these three tips to encourage reading while boosting comprehension skills:
- Turn on the closed captioning or subtitles and mute the sound when the TV is on. With closed captioning, text runs along the screen at the speed of oral communication, which is the rate your child needs to learn to read as a step toward fluency. “You might get some resistance at first, but if used as a reward, it won’t be an uphill battle,” Sathy says. “Try using the television to your advantage instead of trying to compete with it.”
- Know the standards your child should master, but focus on statements, not questions. While reading with your child, focus on statements instead of questions (i.e., “there are a lot of figurative statements on this page” instead of “can you find three figurative statements on this page?”). If the child wants to probe your statement further, he or she will. “Don’t force it, and don’t interrupt your child while reading,” Sathy says. “Wait until he or she has finished a page or a chapter to correct pronunciation or make statements.”
- Teach reading skills when you’re nowhere near a book. Ask comprehension questions about things happening around you while you’re out and about. You can ask early readers who the main character would be or what the setting or plot would be if someone wrote a story about what is happening in the parking lot right now. Second graders can name something they see that has two syllables or a long “a” in it. “Turn idle time into opportunities to teach reading skills in the car, in line at the grocery store, or any time you are out on the town,” Sathy explains. “Parents need to be creative when trying to reinforce reading instruction after school.”