Many American kids fall short on standardized reading tests because they can’t understand what they read, as pointed out by Gina Carrier from The Partnership for Learning. Reading comprehension is one of the most essential higher order thinking skills a child needs; it’s a skill that parents can help kids improve in kindergarten, or even before. With fundamental practice at home, children often build the skills necessary for satisfactory reading comprehension.
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Read with your child. Read storybooks aloud with your little one to help build her vocabulary. Carrier recommends at least 20 minutes of reading every day. Reading books at bedtime is a helpful routine. Take advantage of other opportunities as well, such as while waiting at the doctor’s office or a restaurant. Scholastic recommends discussing books as you read them. Ask questions that address what the child thinks of the plot, characters and motivations within the story. Also, have your child summarize the story and compare it to other stories she knows.
Practice phonics. According to Joelle Brummitt-Yale from K12 Reader, children can’t comprehend what they read unless they are able to identify the sounds making up each word, so it’s vital that kindergarteners have a basic foundation in phonics. Practice phonics at home by pointing out letters you and your child see everyday, on signs, in books or even on TV. For example, while waiting in line at the grocery store, point out letters in magazines or on signs. Several websites also offer beneficial phonemic practice for young kids, such as Starfall and PBS Kids.
Practice high frequency words. Brummitt-Yale reports that 220 common words make up 50 to 75 percent of the content in most children’s stories. Mastering these high frequency words helps kids comprehend many various stories. Using pictures in a flash card manner is an effective way to practice reading these words.
Read favorite books over and over. According to Brummitt-Yale, repetitive reading allows a child to process a text multiple times. The first time your kindergartener reads a story, he likely focuses on decoding the words without searching for meaning. However, with repetition, he masters the words and begins to make meaning from them. Next comes the understanding that every story has meaning. Therefore, encourage your little one to read favorite books aloud multiple times.
Work with your child’s teacher. Family Education recommends obtaining her class curriculum to find out what’s expected of your child during kindergarten. Track her progress by going over homework and materials she brings home from school, not just her report card. Meet with her teacher or at least speak with her over the phone regularly to make sure you are aware of her progress at school.