Island Trees Elementary Reading Program

Reading Strategies To Help Parents

Dear Families,

We have compiled a list of strategies you can use to help your children improve their reading skills. These are ideas and techniques we teach the children during the school year. Take a moment to look them over and give them a try! We have also included links for word families, a list of high frequency words, and other helpful tips. We would love for you to join us in being a continued part of your child's growth in reading!


Click on the links below to view the high frequency words, word families, and editing checklist we use daily at school. You can copy them onto index cards and use them as flash cards to review with your child.

High Frequency Words
Word Families
Editing Check List

What's the Word?

What to Do When a Reader Doesn't Know a Word:

Wait and see if the reader can work it out.
Use Context Clues: Skip the word and think about what would make sense.
Use Sound Clues: Sound it out.
Picture Clues: What do you see?
Word Part Clues: Which part of the word do you know?

What to Do When a Reader Makes a Mistake:

If the mistake makes sense, don't do a thing!
If the mistake does not make sense, wait until the end of the sentence and see if the reader fixes it.
At the end of the sentence ask the reader to try it again.
Repeat what the reader said and ask if it makes sense.
If the reader does not self correct then tell the correct response.

Remember, getting meaning from the text is the goal!


Reading Comprehension

Ask the reader these questions:

Before Reading:

*Look at the cover of the book together.

What do you think this book is about?
What do you predict might happen?
What do you already know about this topic or story?

During Reading:
*Use expression, encourage your child to read along, take turns.

Does what you are reading make sense?
Do you understand the meanings of the words?
Can you picture what is happening in your mind?

After Reading:
*Discuss the story.

Were the predictions you made correct?
Did you learn something that you did not know already?
Can you retell the story or share the information in a summary?

Pick a Book

The main thing is to find books you both love. They will shape your child's first impression of the world of reading. Keep in mind your child's reading level and listening level are different. When you read easy books, beginning readers will soon be reading along with you. When you read more advanced books, you instill a love of stories, and you build the motivation that transforms children into lifelong readers!

Ask friends, neighbors, and teachers to share the names of their favorite books.

Visit your local public library, and as early as possible, get your child a library card. Ask the librarian for help in selecting books.

Look forward to award-winning books. Each year the American Library Association selects children's books for the Caldecott Medal for illustration and the Newberry Medal for writing.

Check the book review section of newspapers and magazines for recommended new children's books.

If you and your child don't enjoy reading a particular book, put it aside and pick up another one!


The Writing Process


Choose a topic.


Organize your ideas.
Write them down.


Improve ideas and vocabulary.


Check spelling, grammar and punctuation.
Use Editing Check List.


Complete final copy.
Share with others.

Listening Skills

Pictureless Story
Read a story aloud to your child without showing the pictures! Then have the child draw or retell what happened in the story.

Books on Tape
Buying or borrowing books on tape gives your child the opportunity to listen to stories told in a different voice than yours. Most have music and sound effects to enhance the experience!

Telephone Game (Best with a group of children)
Sit in a circle with the children and whisper a simple phrase in the ear of the child that is sitting next to you. That child then whispers what he/she thinks she heard into the ear of the next child. If someone didn't hear what was said, he/she may say "operator", and the whisperer can repeat it once only. If the message makes it to the last child in the same way it was originally said, everyone used good listening skills and the game may be repeated starting with another player and a more difficult message.

I'm Going On Vacation…(Group game)
Sit in a circle. The first person says, "I am going on vacation and I am bringing _________". The first item should begin with the letter "a", (apple for example). The next person says, "I am going on vacation and I am bringing an apple and (something that starts with b). This continues around and around the circle until you get to the letter z. This game involves eally good listening and memory skills, (so important for good reading!)


Preparing for Reading Tests

There are basically two types of reading tests the children take throughout the year:

1. Informal Classroom Tests

These tests are given by the classroom teacher to find out what students have retained. They can range from a brief true-false or multiple choice test, to more detailed writing assignments. Many teachers use the information from these tests to help them plan their daily instruction.

2. Standardized Tests

These tests are more formal. They are usually given to students periodically to measure student and school progress toward meeting specific standards. These tests also give teachers and reading specialists an idea of an individual child's strengths and weaknesses. The results of many standardized tests include a report for parents.

Helping Your Child Get Ready.

Reduce the child's anxiety by explaining the importance of tests, but develop a positive attitude and put the test in proper perspective. Be a cheerleader, letting the child know you have confidence in them and that as long as they try their best you will not be angry about the results.

Talk to the teacher often to keep track of your child's progress. Ask about ways you can help at home.

Make sure your child is doing his or her homework every night.

Urge your child to listen carefully to directions. The ability to follow directions is important when taking tests.

Make sure your child gets a good night's sleep for several days before the test and especially the night before the test.

Make sure your child has a good breakfast that is nutritionally balanced but not too heavy on the morning of the test.

Stay positive on test day. When your child gets home, ask how the test went and offer encouragement and support.


Supporting Literacy Growth

Have a space at home for books and magazines for your child.
Provide materials to encourage children to tell or create their own stories using puppets, dolls or a tape recorder.
Provide materials for writing such as crayons, markers, pencils and paper.

Read or look at books, magazines or the newspaper with your child. Talk about what you looked at or read.
Visit the library and take out books and magazines to read at home.
Tell stories together about books, about your family and things that you do.
Talk about written material you have such as catalogs, advertisements and mail.
Be a model for your child by reading and writing at a time when your child can see you.
Point out print in your home and outside such as words on food boxes, instructions, road signs and names of stores and restaurants.
Use print to talk to your child. Leave notes for each other and make lists together.

Show Support.
Reward your child's attempts at reading and writing, even if they are not perfect.
Answer your child's questions about reading and writing.
Be sure that reading and writing are enjoyable experiences.
Display your child's work in your home.
Try to visit school when your child asks. Volunteer to help and attend programs your child is participating in. Attend parent meetings and conferences. This lets your child know you care about him or her and school.

2004 Really Good Stuff
Ellen A. Thompson
American Federation of Teachers/U.S. Dept. of Education
Anthony D. Fredericks
Scholastic News
Parents and Reading, Reading Today, International Reading Association
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

Back to Helpful Reading Links