Reading Success at Home
Date posted: May 23, 2018
Today we are pleased to welcome Fiona Clare, the Literacy Outreach Coordinator in Kamloops, as our guest blogger. She shares the successful Come Read with Me family literacy workshop.
When we know how to read, it is hard to remember what it is like not to be able to read. Twenty years ago, my son was learning how to read. As a teacher, I thought it would be easy to help him, but was I wrong! We were soon both frustrated. Then I was introduced to the ONE TO ONE Children’s Literacy program and learned positive reading strategies used by ONE TO ONE volunteer tutors. It made so much sense. Home reading became a joy, and my now 25 year old son still loves to read.
Over the years, I’ve learned that many parents feel just as I did. Most K/Grade 1 students are excited about learning to read, but by Grade 3 almost a third of them become reluctant readers and begin to fall behind. Jim Trelease wrote in his Read-Aloud Handbook,
“We must take care that children’s early encounters with reading are painless enough so they will cheerfully return to the experience now and forever. But if it’s repeatedly painful, we will end up creating a school-time reader instead of a lifetime reader.”
To support their children’s reading at home, parents need to understand the reading processing system, and learn different reading strategies. The Come Read with Me Family Literacy workshop does just that.
Each participating school sends out an invitation to parents/guardians/caregivers of Grade 1 students about two weeks prior to the session. With the invitation is a Letter to Employer on school letterhead requesting some work time flexibility so the parent can attend this important two hour session. The session takes place at the school, usually first thing in the morning. This is how the program looks: The adults arrive at the school with their child, drop off the child’s backpack, then come together to a room to enjoy a light breakfast snack provided by the school. Everyone visits together for about 15 minutes. The Grade 1 students then go to their classroom while adults spend 45 minutes with the facilitator.
Using the parent handbook, Reading Success at Home as a resource, parents learn to look for meaning first in text, then accuracy. They learn to use all the information – pictures, letter clues, what they already know, what makes sense, and what sounds right – to decode the text. As they better understand the reading process, they become more confident about providing helpful prompts to their children. Instead of just saying “Sound it out”, they can encourage their child to: guess by looking at the picture, think about what makes sense, reread, or skip and go on, and then go back. Parents learn that we use a variety of strategies to make sense of print on a page.
Each family receives a take-home package that includes: Reading Success at Home booklet, new leveled reader, reading strategy bookmark, word games, a dice, dry erase marker, sight word cards and blank word cards. The adults learn how to play the games, then join their child in the classroom to practice reading the new book together and playing the games. An evaluation form is completed by the adults at the end of the session.
Some unexpected benefits of the workshop are that adults who don’t read well themselves sometimes feel better prepared to improve their own literacy skills. Also, those not proficient in English, feel more confident about working with their children when they understand the focus is on meaning not perfection. The same is true for English speaking adults supporting their children in French Immersion. Adults feel motivated and empowered to better support their children’s reading at home.
Here are a few comments from parents who attended the workshop:
- “I liked being given the chance to learn the skills to help teach my children how to be confident in their learning journey.”
- “Great tips. Loved the part about ‘meaning over perfection’. I liked that we practiced what we had learned.”
- “I feel much more comfortable and confident reading with my daughter now.”
- “I am so glad I came because reading was always a chore for my kids. Now it will be fun for them.”
- “It reminded me that reading is not as automatic as we think – lots of steps to get there.”
The objective of Come Read with Me is for adults to learn reading strategies they can use at home to support their children’s learning in a positive way so they will become “lifetime readers” not just “school-time readers.” It also helps build the home/school connection because it gives parents and teachers common language and goals so they feel they are working together as a team.
Fiona generously shared Come Read with Me program resources at Decoda’s 2017 conference. Click here for links to her PowerPoint presentation, Reading Success at Home parent booklet, facilitator’s notes to Reading Success at Home, letter templates, games, audiovisuals and more.