Mary  Cordray
Special Education Teacher
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Reading Tips

January Reading Tip  

Ring in the New Year with the resolution to increase your child’s reading skills! One way to make this happen is by increasing your child’s reading fluency.

Fluency refers to how many words a child can read quickly AND accurately. Once a child is able to read several sentences or paragraphs, it also includes reading with expression using punctuation marks such as commas or quotation marks. Research indicates that increasing a child’s fluency aids comprehension.

Depending on the child’s reading level, fluency levels are assessed by giving timed samples. For example, fluency for a kindergarten student would be assessed using letter or sound recognition. Fluency is then increased by using words such as sight words or nonsense words to reading phrases or sentences. By the middle of first grade, fluency is assessed using short passages.

Here are a few fluency strategies for home practice:

*Use flash cards of letters, word families, sight words, or phrases. Flash the card for 1 or 2 seconds before your child responds. Use the cards to create a row or list and have your child read the cards as quickly as possible. The goal is for your child to read each card within one second.

As your child becomes more fluent at one reading level, begin using cards at the next level.

*Using a book or passage, read aloud to your child. Stop periodically and have your child read the next word. Again, the goal is to read the word within one second.

*When reading, if your child misreads or omits a word, point to the word and ask your child to reread the word. Then have him reread the sentence before continuing. If your child makes multiple errors, write the misread words on cards to practice in isolation or phrases.

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December Reading Tip  

December is a wonderful time to do fun and creative reading activities with your child as part of the holiday season. Try some of these ideas and maybe you will find a favorite activity to do each year!



*Instead of singing a Christmas carol, read it to your child and ask your child to identify the rhyming words or phrases. Then sing the song afterwards.

*Read a familiar holiday story to your child. During the reading, stop periodically and let your child complete the missing word in a sentence or phrase.

*Use a holiday story to go on a Word Hunt to find holiday words.

*Let your child help pick out a Christmas card to send to a family member or friend. Have your child read several cards and explain why he likes one before making a selection.

*Cooking or baking is a great way to tie in reading. Start with a very simple recipe and have your child pick out words he can read. Younger children can match words from a recipe to actual objects with the words written on containers or packages such as “milk” or “eggs”.

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November Reading Tips  

November’s reading tip is on phonics. Phonics is identifying letters or groups of letters with sounds and using the sound patterns to decode or read a word.

Here are two examples of using phonics:

A child says the SOUND of a letter when he sees it on a flash card.

When reading the word “cot”, the child touches and sounds out        “c – o – t” then blends the sounds to say the word “cot”.                          


When students struggle with phonics, many of the errors relate to the vowel sounds. Even older students struggling with reading vowel patterns correctly need additional practice.


Here are a few easy activities for home practice:

*Make flash cards of just vowel patterns for practice. When the card is flashed, the child gives the sound without naming the letter or letters.

*Highlight the vowels in decodable words such as “man” or “time”. Then have your child touch the vowels before reading the word.

*Use a short passage or book and have your child go on a Word Hunt looking for words with a certain vowel sound or pattern. One example -- Have your child look for any word that has the short o sound in it (lot, stock). He may say the word each time he finds it OR write it to make a list. After creating the word list, he can then see how quickly he reads the words.

*Write a list of 10 words using a particular pattern, then have your child read the list as quickly as possible. Once your child has practiced 2 or 3 patterns, mix up the patterns in the list. The goal is to read the list in 10 seconds – one second per word.

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October Reading Tips  

Reading has five important components:   


* Phonemic awareness       

* Phonics                               

* Fluency

* Vocabulary

* Comprehension    


Each component plays a key role in developing skills to help a student become an effective reader. The focus of this month’s reading tip is on phonemic awareness.


Phonemic awareness skills include identifying and creating rhymes, clapping out or counting the number of syllables in a word, or recognizing beginning or ending sounds. Students practice these skills by listening and responding verbally. MOST IMPORTANTLY, phonemic awareness is one of the best predictors of how well children will learn to read during the first two years of instruction.


Here are a few easy and fun activities for home practice:

*Read a poem in sections to your child, then ask him to identify the words that rhyme.

*Teach your child nursery rhymes.

*Play partner clapping activities while reciting silly poems or songs, such as, “Miss Mary Mack Mack”.

*Play “I Spy” to find objects beginning with a particular sound.

*Make up silly sentences for your child to identify the words beginning with the same sound, such as, “Good ghosts get green gum.”