How Can I Help My Child Take Ownership of their Reading? by Natalie Giasullo

In working with first and second grade students, I see students having to complete reading assignments at a frustrational level. This means that as the child reads, they are spending so much effort sounding the words out, they lose meaning. Most of the time they are not willing to go back and re read.

What I have come up with is giving the student control over how much to read. For example, I have a student who brings home a reading packet to be completed by the end of the week. The reading is lengthy and she is a struggling reader due to dyslexia. I dedicate part of the tutoring session to helping her get her packet done. Before we begin, I have her mark the passage to what she is willing to read, and what she would like read to her. I tell her, “It has to be fair.” So she will count 8-10 lines, run her pencil through it and put her initials beside what she will read. When she finishes reading each piece I offer to reread to make sure she has understanding. Because I have her take control of what will be read, she buys into the reading assignment and feels empowered.

I have also given her some strategies for approaching a challenging word. When I first sat down with her, I asked her, “What do you do when you run into a word you think you can’t read?” She answered, ” I ask my teacher or put a word in I think it might be.” I praised her for advocating for herself by asking the teacher, but then I asked her if she liked asking the teacher all the time. She didn’t and wanted to do it on her own. I also asked her if her reading made sense. Of course it had not.

From there, I taught her to look for smaller words in larger words, and to use vowels to guide in breaking the words into smaller pieces. ( I use letter tiles for this.) I’m very proud of the progress she has made because, as with a lot of children with dyslexia , she was in a habit of plugging in any word that she thought would “fit into the reading.” That was her survival habit. Now, rather than “guess a word up” or ask her teacher, she takes her time to actively read. She shows me how she separates a word, then takes it on. Just as important, when she answers comprehension questions, she has an idea of where to locate the answer in the passage.

It doesn’t happen over night, but consistency, open communication with the teacher and proper support will result in seeing progress in your child’s developmental reading skills. For more information on helping your child succeed in reading visit .

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