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A 5-step roadmap to build reading fluency this summer

Saving money for college is a prudent investment in your child’s future, but of course it’s not the only one you can make. The act of parenting inherently involves huge investments of your time. Making the additional, intentional choice to read aloud with your kids is a proven worthwhile investment. Its dividends? Improved academic and literacy skills.

Rule No. 1? Try an approach that’s less “reading to” and more “conversation with.” One study showed that parents who read to their child while asking minimal questions during reading had children who did not talk very much. On the other hand, parents who paused frequently during the story had children who asked more questions, talked more and engaged in conversation.

Children who are read to at least three times a week by a family member are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading compared to children who are read to less often. — U.S. Department of Education study

When you read with your children, experts suggest that you discuss the story content, ask open-ended questions about story events, explain the meaning of words and point out details of the illustrations. By doing so, you can promote language development, comprehension of story content and knowledge of story structure—all of which boosts literacy.

Here is a 5-step read-aloud roadmap, gleaned from the Florida Department of Education, to build reading fluency:

  1. Select a book that is age appropriate, with a message your child is capable of grasping and that is free of cultural bias.
  2. Practice reading the book before the read-aloud time.
  3. Discuss with your child the book title and the book cover; stimulate thinking about how the story might unfold. (Who? What? Why? Where? When?)
  4. During the reading, share pictures and illustrations and use enthusiasm to bring the story to life.
  5. After reading, discuss the story predictions you made versus what actually happened.

The Florida Department of Education website offers lots of other ideas to support its “Just Take 20” initiative, which is aimed at encouraging parents to spend 20 minutes per day reading aloud with children. Explore the site for ideas to improve literacy by grade level, build an environment that encourages reading at home, boost language skills through dinnertime conversation and more.

Without the pressures of the school year, summer can be an excellent time to discover that reading is more than a requirement: It’s a delight! We hope you’re inspired to help your kids connect with the joy that reading can bring.

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