We all know that having parents on board makes our job easier. When we are able to team up with parents, we see students thrive. However, sometimes that is not the case. Sometimes parents are unsure of how to help at home. I want to help you give your parents some ideas on reading activities they can do at home with little supplies.

Let’s break these activities down into two categories

Phonological Awareness

There are several ways to practice phonological and phonemic awareness at home. One is music training. Experts declare music increases reading understanding because of the rhythm of both music and reading. In music there are rhythm beats and there are also beats in music. By nine months infants can begin to detect these rhythmic beats in music (Moritz et. al., 2013). A variety of music can be played or sung to these infants so they can detect the patterns. These musical patterns help infants develop the speech process because it overlaps brain networks to process (Moritz et. al., 2013). This will enhance the cognitive process because they infants are exposed to these rhythmic beats that will increase understanding speech and patterns in words for future readings. Also, poetry involves a rhythmic pattern, if students understand rhythm from music, they already have background knowledge on how poems will work.

            Another activity for practicing these skills is using sound cards. All you need is four to five different square cut outs of different colors. Each color represents one sound. Students can switch out sound cards, build words through the sound cards, separate sounds and put them back together. The different colors show the different phonemes in each word. If you give the students a word like bat. They will pick three sound cards say their sounds and put the whole word back together. Then you say something like okay bat is now rat. They would have to switch out the b sound card with the unused sound card to make the word rat. As students are more experienced with the cards rat can become ran and have to switch out the last sound card. Also, as this becomes routine ran can change into run, where they will have to switch out the middle sound card. Start slow and work up to the middle sound switching.

            Lastly, a strategy to increase phonological and phonemic awareness is matching games. These matching games can take place anywhere and are great for long road trips. Simply ask your child to find a word that starts with a sound you are thinking of. Instead of “I Spy”, it would be called, “I Hear.” I hear a word that starts with mmmmmm and allow your child to find it. Also, you can have different objects and ask your child to find the beginning sound as the object in your hand. When your child masters the beginning sound you can change it to the same ending sound as the object. You want to save vowel sounds for last because vowels are the hardest to separate and distinguish. When your child has mastered the beginning and ending sounds you could move onto matching vowel sounds. Also, if your child is older than you can have them match blends like sh, ch, dr words. This game is great because it is very adaptable for all young readers of all levels.

Graphemes or Print

There are several ways to help your child at home to practice graphemes. For example, you could present your child with a letter and have them tell you a sound. Also, you could have them match a letter with a picture or object that starts with that letter. It is important to have the letter written down so the child can make connections between the letter and the phoneme. Always remember to make it fun for your child so they want to learn all about the letters and sounds, get them excited! As your child reaches kindergarten it is important to start memorizing sight words. Sight words are words that you cannot sound out like the word the or was. These words are ones that do not fit any pattern, so it is tough for students to learn. By playing sight words hide-and-go-seek you will also have your child up and moving around. To play you have to hide words around a room or house and ask your student to go find one of the words. You can tell them what word you want them to find or have them read the word to you when they find the word. This will help practice basic sight words. Practicing sight words will help students commit the words that do not follow a pattern to memory. Once it is in their long-time storage, they will be able to read these words more fluently and spell them better. I would suggest not practicing the sight words until they have most of their letters learned.

            To enhance decoding one way to help at home is to build word families. Building word families demonstrate an increase overall reading ability (Apfelbaum et. al., 2013). To begin write a word down that will rhyme with other words. Have your child write down a word that rhymes with it. Continue going back and forth writing down a rhyming word until all the word family words are done. Also, have you child come up with a word to start this game. With younger kids you can practice by having letters written down on index cards next to ending words like –at, -ad, -up, etc. Have them build words to create word families and allow them to practice writing down the words. Understanding word families will not only help when reading but also spelling. Furthermore, a way to practice decoding and seeing patterns in words is to label your house. For example, on a wall print out how to spell the word wall and stick it to them. Your child can determine the word all is in wall and now can rhyme and spell other words similar. Also, if you label a light, the students can see a clear image of –igh words and provide an example of what they see in their world (background knowledge). By labeling you can provide your child background knowledge for when they learn that phonics skill in school. Lastly, while your child is reading it is important to ask questions about the text and develop higher level thinking. For example, you can use Bloom’s Taxonomy question words. These types of questions are where the answer does not come straight from the book, the student must use text clues to explain their answer. For instance, ask a question like “What would you do if you were….? Why?” this will allow your child to really think about what they are reading.

There are so many activities for parents and kids to do together at home to promote reading success. These are just a few examples and ideas to help get started. What are your favorite activities that promote reading to do at home with your kids?

References

Apfelbaum, K. S., Hazeltine, E., & McMurray, B. (2013). Statistical learning in reading: Variability in irrelevant letters helps children learn phonics skills.   Developmental Psychology, 49(7), 1348-1365. doi:10.1037/a0029839

Moritz, C., Yampolsky, S., Papadelis, G., Thomson, J., & Wolf, M. (2013). Links between early rhythm skills, musical training, and phonological awareness. Reading & Writing, 26(5), 739-769. doi:10.1007/s11145-012-9389-0

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