Teaching a child to read is the single most important job a parent-teacher has! Here are some easy ways to get a slow reader to pick up that pace and learn to love reading.
As the name suggests, you and your child read together. If your child is slow reader this will help the child to orally read more quickly. It also gives the parent-teacher some insights into what exactly the child is missing in reading which is holding up progress. Start out with the child, or children, reading a paragraph each, and the parent reading a paragraph. As the child becomes more proficient, let the child(ren) read more and more. Make sure you model proper oral reading by pausing at commas, dropping your voice at the end of sentences, raising voice at questions, and change your voice at character quotations. Putting yourself in character and animating your voice will bring the book alive! If your child is already a proficient reader, take the choral reading opportunity to evaluate the child’s abilities. I have found that even my teenager has some bad habits with her reading, even though she was a very proficient reader. For those with large families, this is a great multilevel activity. The parent-teacher can allow children that read well to have longer pieces. It has been my experience that eventually the younger, less fluent, readers slowly progressed and were on par with the older, more fluent readers in very little time. Make it a goal to read a chapter a day and include little ones that are not old enough to read yet. Also, choose a book that is from classic literature. This year we have chorally read Treasure Island and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The reading group ranged from 3rd grade to 8th grade with a Kinder listening.
After each chapter, have the child/ren do a narration. The narration is the chapter’s events through the child’s eyes. It demonstrates comprehension. For all levels make sure the chapter number and name are at the top of every picture and narration.
Guidelines for Narration:
K-1st —The child/ren should be able to draw a picture and make a caption of something that happened in the story. If your first grader is reading and writing, have the child write a complete sentence. Then have the child tell the parent-teacher what happened in the story and including the picture and write it down on the back of the picture. This can be done with a slow reader as well.
2nd -3rd –Depending on the child’s reading level, one can increase the number of sentences to go along with a picture. If the child is struggling, it is still ok at this level to write the narration, but it is highly suggested that you have the child copy the narration. Make sure that appropriate grammar, punctuation, etc… is used.
4th-5th—At this stage, the parent teacher can switch from picture drawing to paragraph narration. Up until now, the child has been adding more and more sentences to the narrations, so it should be a natural progression. Do not completely stop the art aspect of the narrations, but perhaps mix it up a bit with doing maybe narrations 3 times a week with 2 days being pictures with short narrations.
6th-8th—This level requires detailed narrations that last a couple paragraphs. At this stage, the child should be able to recall events in a story easily, so narration should perhaps be supplemented with a unit study on the book. There are some great studies out there. For instance, when we did 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea we found a great unit study online for free! It included keeping a journal as Professor Arronax did, doing research on certain areas of interest, doing character profiles, etc… Once a child is to the point of racing through narrations, so that they are boring, try spicing it up with literature unit studies.
9th-12th—At this stage, reading is more for family togetherness. Students in high school must concentrate on getting a diploma (if that is the focus of the parent and child), so rather than bog the child down with unit studies on books that may not being required reading for high school, rather just have the child become the “teacher’s aid” and assist the parent-teacher with younger children. Often teens lose sight of family and this is a great time to get them involved with family and enjoy the time together with their siblings. Instead of narration or picture drawing, have the child move on to some other subject unless he/she wants to create a sketch or discuss critically ideas in the book. The idea is not to spend time on something that isn’t required at this level. If your high schooler is still struggling with reading, follow the 6th-8th grade reading suggestions.
Once your child is done with the book, he/she will have a complete retelling of the story with illustrations. Put this into a three-ring binder or special folder and label it. Put it away for the child’s portfolio.
On a personal note, I had a child that was struggling with fluency. She could read a book straight through and tell me all about it, but when she read aloud, she would skip words like the, and, a, etc… I couldn’t figure out why! Finally, I used this method to evaluate her reading fluency and found out that she did to much reading on her own for her level (4th grade). She still needed to have her siblings and her parent model appropriate reading techniques. After two complete books, her reading level improved immensely as did her comprehension because now she would read something and not understand it and her siblings and I were there to discuss the idea. Often what happened is we were dragging out the Encyclopedia or going online to look up things like reading latitude and longitude correctly, sea life classification, or even just looking on a globe tracking the travels of the characters. This method really enhanced our reading experiences, and I learned so much as well as reading literature I missed out on as a child!