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Improve Literacy Newsletter

29 October 2009 -- Issue 18


Hi there!

This month we are going to be looking at reading together with your child, and strategies you can use to help them on the path to reading success. Let's get straight into it.


In this issue:

1. The PEER approach to reading together
2. Guest article - How to Read a Bedtime Story
3. Practical Guide to Reading Comprehension eBook
4. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter
5. The Improve Literacy website


1. The PEER approach to reading together

Reading experts frequently tell us that reading together with our children has enormous benefits for their literacy development and education as a whole. It's also a great opportunity for a parent to spend some quality 'bonding' time with a child, and it allows a conversation to develop between the two of you.

This type of reading together is also known as dialogic reading. Try using what's known as the PEER method when you read together with your child - that is:

- Prompt
- Evaluate
- Expand
- Repeat

Prompt

As you read with your child, prompt him with questions about the story. It might be about one of the illustrations, or maybe a certain character. The exercise can be particularly useful if the subject matter is something he is familiar with. Prompting is a useful exercise as it helps prepare context, which in turn is beneficial for strong reading comprehension skills.

Evaluate

When your child responds to your questions, you can evaluate her responses and explain if she is right or wrong. If she gets it right you could say "Yes, that's right. It's a ----", and if she gets wrong you could say "Have another try. Does it look like something that you've seen before?"

Evaluating responses to questions and giving clues to a young reader is very important in reading development.

Expand

You should then expand on your child's response. If the answer to the question was "It's a car", you can say something like "Yes, it's a big blue car. It's a bit like ours but a slightly darker colour".
Expanding responses helps your child to relate the content of books to the real world.

Repeat

Finally, repeat the initial prompt as you read through the book. For instance, each time you see a car in the story, say "big blue car" together with your child. This introduces your young reader to new vocabulary and concepts.


2. Guest article - How to Read a Bedtime Story

Our guest article this month is aimed at dads - it's called How to Read a Bedtime Story by Rob Kemp.

Bedtime stories aren't just for tiny tots: older children enjoy them too. Here are some tips for dads. Want to perfect your storytelling skills? Well, if you're sitting comfortably, then we'll
begin...Research shows that when dads read bedtime stories their kids do better at school. Bedtime stories encourage speech and language development and help children learn literacy skills in an enjoyable way. If nothing else, a story at snooze time helps set down healthy sleep patterns. Time then to tell some tall tales.

Get into Character

Bedtime stories should be told in a relaxed atmosphere — so let's begin by switching off the TV. And, where possible, add some dramatization to the stories. Try reading in different voices or carry out some of the actions being performed by the characters in the book. Anything that makes it a more stimulating story will make storytime more fun.

Have a Regular Read

When your child's just learning to talk, regularly read the same story. This will help their language development and enhance their memory. The first time a child hears a story they won't catch everything — but hearing it over and over again helps them to become familiar with words and to establish speech patterns.

Don't Test, Do Tell

Avoid turning storytime into an academic exercise by using it to test your child's reading skills. Instead, just ask open questions about the stories that help them build a link between the story and their everyday life. For example: "What would you do?" or "Do you know any other black cats?"

Book a Boys' Night In

It's even more important for dads to actively encourage their sons to read. Reading is often thought of by boys as a 'girly' thing to do — which may explain why lads do so badly in literacy tests — but if young boys see their main role model enjoying reading it'll encourage them too. In fact, it doesn't always have to be the Mr. Men stories. Reeling off your favorite line or two from a newspaper story, magazine, comic or match day football program will help them build an association between reading and fun.

Find the age level

Spend some quality time with your children at the library. Look for books aimed at their age level and stories you enjoyed as a child. Let them choose books too — even if they pick one that's too complex for them but they like the pictures. Encourage them to browse and find stories they like the look of. Children who have favorite books when they are young tend to do better in school.

Reprinted with permission from the UK’s National Literacy Trust.

www.literacytrust.org.uk/familyreading/Blokes.html

 
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