Read to your child
         The experts agree: reading to your child is the single most important thing
you can do to encourage school success. It is also a contributing factor to your
child becoming a lifelong learner.

         There are many things you teach when you read to your child. Teachers
call these “concepts about print.” You show:

         How to handle a book - which side is the front and which is the back.

         How how to turn pages.

         The direction in which the print is read.

         The “return sweep,” where the eyes go when each line is finished.

         Starting on the left-hand page and continuing on the right-hand page
after the left-hand page is finished.
         Matching words as they are read on the page.

         These are some qualities to look for in books for beginning readers:

         Very few words on the page.
         Predictability and patterns of words
         High correlation between the words and the illustrations, so that the child
knows what the word says because of what the illustration shows.

         The last point, above, is a Whole Language technique. However, you can
use the phonics approach to reinforce the sounds that letters make. For
example, if your child tells you that the word says dog because of the
illustration of the dog, take a moment to say, “Let’s make sure that it says dog.”
What letter would you expect dog to start with? An emergant reader will be
likely to know the d and its sound. Look for it together. “And what would you
expect to find at the end?” Look for the g. (Note: vowels are not consistent in
their sounds, so it is usually best to provide those sounds for your child. It’s also
not a bad idea to explain this irregularity so that children are not thrown off.)

          This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacher’s Advice for Parents.

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