Improving Your Child's Reading Skills

These guidelines will help you know when and how to assist your child as he or she reads aloud to you and then answers the homework questions that follow.


1. Have your child read the questions before reading the passage aloud. 

  • The questions on the Family Letter With Questions page are written at a higher reading level than the student passage. This simple step will provide your child with a sense of what the passage is about, tools to tackle unfamiliar names or words, and a purpose for reading. This reading will also trigger your child's background knowledge of the passage's topic. 

2. Study the passage's title and any illustrations next. 

  • These will provide even more information to set the stage for reading and help your child establish a context for words in the passage that may have more than one meaning. For instance, the passage may contain the word bass. If the passage is about symphony, the word is pronounced one way; if the passage is about fishing, it is pronounced differently. 


3. Do not immediately correct the error when your child reads a word incorrectly.

  • The best way to improve reading comprehension and fluency is to read aloud. It is very important that you listen to your child read the passage. If your child makes an error, let him or her read to the end of the sentence. Most of the time, your child will realize that what was said aloud does nor make sense and will self-correct. 


4. Allow your child to circle or highlight words or phrases in the questions and then find the same word or phrase in the passage. 

  • Ideally, your child should be able to read the passage fluently, return to the text to find or verify the answers to the questions, and then write the answer himself or herself. If your child struggles with this, marking the text will help reinforce the idea that the answers to the questions are right there in the passage. 


5. Help your child compose the answers to the questions.

  • Work together in locating the answers and using the text to ensure correct spelling. 


6. Some questions may require more discussion and rereading than others.

  • The skills covered by these assignments vary greatly. Some ask children to recall the facts (literal questions), and some require them to "read between the lines" and make inferences. 


7. Provide the extra help in certain situations.

  • A variety of factors may effect your child's ability to complete an assignment. For example, he or she may have missed prior instruction for a skill or misunderstood it. Read the Family Letter to help explain the skill to your child. If your child has been ill or is particularly tired or over-stressed, for example, feel free to step in with more guidance. 


Information was obtained from: Week-by-Week Homework: Reading Comprehension by Mary Rose, Scholastic Inc.