Even the most meticulously planned literacy interventions fall short if students only get assistance at school. What your struggling readers do at home will either duplicate or undo the progress they make in your classroom. While many teachers assume parents know how to help their children read, a majority of parents report that they don’t know where to start.
Summer break is just around the corner, so now’s the time to arm your parents with valuable teaching tools. Pulling from Linda Baker’s Reading and Writing Quarterly article, we’ve got five simple ways you can help parents encourage reading in the home. And with that kind of parental support, students are sure to succeed.
- Send materials home. In a survey taken in 2000, over 90 percent of teachers reported that they encouraged parents to read to their children. Unfortunately, only 55 percent regularly sent books home for students to read. Many families don’t have the resources to provide age-appropriate books for children to read, so make sure students are equipped with the materials they need to practice at home. Start a library system in your classroom or learn about and take advantage of the story printouts offered in Imagine Learning English.
- Teach the parents. Invite parents to the school and introduce them to helpful reading strategies. Include details on what is age appropriate to read, how much to read, how long a reading session should be, and what kinds of questions to ask during the reading. Parents who don’t receive these trainings are likely to focus solely on phonics and word recognition, whereas parents who receive some teacher training know to also spend time on comprehension.
- Set goals. Be sure to clearly set goals with parents that will identify the role you need them to play. Because you are familiar with effective pedagogical practices, parents should take a support role rather than the main teaching role. By supporting the instruction you give to students, parents reinforce your instruction instead of compound it.
- Look for alternatives. If parents struggle to read themselves, consider using an alternate form of instruction at home. Perhaps an older sibling can get involved, or you could send a book with an audio tape home with your student. You could also invite parents into the classroom to mimic practices you use. Regardless of a parent’s own capabilities, parents can at least listen to their children read. This simple act will motivate and encourage students to develop a love for reading.
- Follow through. Ask how the reading is coming at your next parent/teacher conference. Parents will often have questions or need some extra motivation to make the time to read with their children. If parents know you’ll be checking up on them, they will feel accountable to follow through themselves.