The most critical skill for success in school or in life is the ability to read well. Children who are interested and motivated to read tend to do more independent reading. Take a few minutes to look at some quick and easy ways to encourage your child to read independently.
What is Independent Reading?
Independent reading is an easy and effective way to reinforce the joy of reading. Independent reading is the type of reading a child does on their own with minimal to no assistance from an adult. For young readers, independent “reading” is little more than looking at the pictures in a book
Why is Independent Reading important?
Research shows that there is a strong correlation between Independent Reading and academic success. Independent Reading has been found to develop extensive vocabularies, builds stamina, develops problem-solving skills, strengthens comprehension and helps kids learn how reading works. Students have also shown to help students score higher on achievement tests and have greater content knowledge than those who do not. With all that research, why wouldn’t teachers and parents encourage Independent Reading?
Ways to Encourage Independent Reading at Home
Teachers are aware of the importance of Independent Reading, but some find it hard to find time in their daily classroom schedules. The balancing of high-stakes testing and increased grade level expectations have resulted in many teachers assigning students to read independently at home. This request has made families play a critical role in supporting independent reading. This role may seem daunting for some parents, but don’t worry, you may be readier than you think.
- Find books that are “just right” – A “just right” book means students should be able to read their books with at least 95% accuracy without adult help. This ensures that the book is not too difficult to read independently, and the child will experience success. If you are unsure of your child’s independent reading level check your child’s last report card or ask your child’s teacher.
- Role models – Parents are more likely to raise kids who are frequent readers when they are readers. It’s important for students to see you prioritize reading for yourself. Read different things and explain to your child your reading choices. Highlight that reading can be done anywhere for enjoyment or information.
- Encourage reading for enjoyment – Children will read more if they choose a book they enjoy. Set up a collection of reading materials that includes some of their favorite topics, authors or characters. Make it easy to find different topics and types of texts, such as non-fiction books, fictions, magazines and newspapers, poetry, etc. A bonus of reading different topics is that kids will be better able to understand the variety of subjects in school.
- Talk, Talk, Talk – Give children an opportunity to share what they have read with you. This encourages them to read more and helps reinforce what they have learned. Try partner reading in which you both read for 5 minutes independently (time can be longer depending on child age and interest) and then share what you read.
- Pack some books in their suitcase – Send some “just right” books with kids when they visit friends and relatives. Encourage your child to share their reading adventures. Kids will love sharing their reading ability and relatives will love to hear them read. A perfect match!
- Use spare moments wisely: Carry something in your handbag or car for your child to read when you find yourselves with a few minutes to spare. Waiting in doctors’ offices or car rides are great opportunities to read. When your child is finished reading ask simple questions about the book such as:
- What did you like or not like about the book?
- Who was the main character?
- What was the main idea?
- How did the story begin or end?
- What was your favorite part?
- What part didn’t you like
Independent Reading lays the foundation for becoming enthusiastic lifelong readers. Adding a focus on Independent Reading in your home, for even a short period of time each day, can be effective to strengthen your child’s reading ability.
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