Reading Aloud and Comprehension

Both teachers and parents encourage children to read library books and class texts daily. The teacher encourages the parent to allow their child to read the text out loud. There are reasons for this.

  1. Children sit in large classes every day and may not got get the opportunity to read aloud and to listen to their own voice reading the text.
  2. Reading aloud is an enjoyable exercise and allows the child to introduce feeling and intonation to the exercise.
  3. Parents can access how fluent their Childs reading is and can interject and tell the child a word that they cannot pronounce or a word that is new to them.
  4. Reading aloud raises confidence (only if the parent is gently encouraging and not interrupting too much, so the flow of the story is not lost).
  5. It is very important that the parent praises the child's efforts.
  6. Comprehension or understanding of the piece is also very important.
  7. Sometimes children, especially non fluent readers only read the story and they are so preoccupied with the pronunciation of words, pausing at the end of a sentence etc that they really don't enjoy the exercise and they certainly don't understand the plot of the story. This happens to non fluent readers. Children should be encouraged to read a page twice. On the second attempt the child's reading is better and they can relax and read for meaning.
  8. Before your child reads the piece you should discuss the illustrations on the page and illicit what the story could be about.
  9. Refer to the questions after the story and pick out two or three. Now you have a purpose and a focus to your reading because you are searching for answers.
  10. Stop the child at regular intervals and ask him to summarize the piece he has just read.
  11. Ask who are the main characters of the story? Where is the story set? Do you like the story? What is the plot? What happens at the beginning, middle and end? As your child progresses you should introduce inferential questioning, for example, what season do you think it is? These are what we call searching questions. The answers are not obvious to the reader and require deep thinking and understanding.
  12. Encourage your child to use whole sentences when answering questions.
  13. Ask your child to summarise the story in five sentences. This is good training for children and illustrates how much of the story he/she understood.
  14. Mind mapping is a great way to quickly show if your child understood the text.
  15. Asking younger children to draw a picture or scene from the story.
  16. New words: in every book your child reads they will encounter new words. Explain the meaning of the word to them in simple English and proceed with the story. Afterwards you could ask them to put the word into a sentence for you.

Remember: The teacher will have prepared the reading page with the children during the day. She will read it, explain new word meanings, question the pupils for understanding and ask them to read the text. It is important that you as parents don't overdo it by dissecting the piece to death. We are trying to encourage reading and not kill it!!

Junior Infants and Reading

Your child has just started school and you are both full of enthusiasm. You want your child to be the best he can be and being able to read and write is a priority for you.

Slow down... The first term is the socializing term and first phase of the infant year. It is a time when children are learning to cope in a new environment with a much bigger number of pupils than he experienced in playschool and only one teacher to cater for every child's needs. It is an exhausting time for new pupils as they are paying attention to new instructions and rules all day long.

Every parent will be anxious to begin reading and more importantly for their child to read. Don't rush it. Your child will spend the year learning phonics, the sounds that make up the words we read. What you should do now is read to your child everyday. Read stories with pictures. Discuss the pictures, who is in the picture? What colour is his jumper? Why is he laughing?

Reread the story. Repeated reading is the best way to improve reading.
Ask the child to tell you the story from memory and by referring to the pictures. Children love this activity and it is very beneficial. As they progress you could point to the words as you read and the child will over time recognise words. Interestingly, young children see words as pictures and shapes, so they recognise and remember longer words more easily than short words such as of, the, as, to, etc.

Don't underestimate the value of picture books or books with little text. These books are specifically designed for pre readers. The reader should be encouraged to talk about the picture, the characters, the colours, the nature, the background pictures etc. This is language development and is an important pre reading skill that your child should acquire. Read it yourself books are useful as time goes on. Point to the words as you read and encourage the child to do this also. Repeated reading of the same book is the best way to improve reading. Reading to your child at night is a bonding exercise but it is also beneficial. It improves language, imagination, and is a skill that will stay with your child for life.

Emerging Readers

When your child begins to read on his own you should encourage this. The library has a specific section for this stage of reading. Parents should sit with the child and listen to him reading. Discuss the picture and ask the child questions about the book. Mightybooks.com is a good site for online stories for children. Give your child a variety of books to read.

As your child becomes more fluent and reading improves, you should continue to visit the library and chose a selection of books from different genres. This allows the child to learn what type of books or what authors he prefers. If your child is a reluctant reader there is a section of the library devoted to him so don't fret! Allow your child to read comics, newspapers and magazines. Exposing them to the written word what we are aiming for. Amazon.com is a great search engine for specific books of interest for your child. Also the Times newspaper gives great reviews on children's books.

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