Just For Parents

Advice and strategies to help your children read

March 05, 2000

TIPS TO SUCCESS

The Sun's readers tell their success stories and offer tips on encouraging children to read.

Tub time's a good time

"Some go rub-a-dub-dub, while others may scrub, but my favorite time to be read to each night is in the tub."

-- Judy Falinski

Baltimore

Acting out the story

"During my commute on the train, I read children's stories, turn them into a play and rehearse before I pick up my daughter. In the evenings while she is lying in bed waiting for her story, I act out the books that I read earlier."

-- Leslie Canaday-Bradley

Abingdon

A sweet ending

"My tip is to choose a story and then serve a dessert themed to the story. It can be as simple as animal crackers, for example, if the story is about animals. We then read the story during our dessert. This also creates an incentive for the kids to finish those vegetables!"

-- Dennis Miller

Pylesville

Make reading a game

"My son loves to play Nintendo 64 and Playstation games, but he hates to read. Since I've gotten a subscription to several gaming magazines (Nintendo Power, Playstation Magazine and Game Pro), his reading has finally gotten to grade level and improves almost daily."

-- Nadine Bracken

Baltimore

Parents can assess skill levels; EXPERT OPINIONS

Parents anxiously await their children's "firsts" -- first tooth, first word, first step, first year of full-day school. Along the way, they can't help but wonder if the kids are on-track developmentally.

"How Is My First Grader Doing in School: What to Expect and How to Help" by Jennifer Jacobson, helps parents gauge their child's progress through an informal assessment and activities that identify strengths, weaknesses, talents and passions. The activities involve little or no preparation and come with easy-to-understand explanations of the learning skills involved.

Shorter activities titled "Have Five Minutes?" include:

Identifying sounds, by making up zany sentences in which every word has the same beginning sound or letter ("Little Laura liked licking lollipops").

Showing your child how to count by ten by adding dimes.

If you have more than than five minutes, there are longer-lasting activities. All of the games help parents understand what is going on in their first graders' classroom and how to incorporate "teachable moments" into everyday life.

The assessment section can help determine what your child has already learned, but, as Jacobson cautions, it is an informal information tool. Parents should not slip into a false sense of security or careen into a state of panic based upon their child's results. Instead, they should try to learn about the skills children are taught in school by reviewing school work and talking with teachers.

The book emphasizes the importance of praise, encouragement and just having fun with your family's everyday routines and in this respect, could yield substantial educational results.

Susan Rapp

Village Reading Center

Here's how to make wise reading choices; ON THE BOOKSHELF

Each year "Children's Literature," a monthly newsletter dedicated to helping parents and teachers make wise choices in their children's reading, publishes more than 600 reviews of new books. They culled last year's best reviewed from 3,000 entries to create a master-list of suggested reading. Here's a sampling:

Ages 3 and under

* "Come Along, Daisy!" by Jane Simmons

* "Just You and Me" by Sam McBratney

* "No, David!" by David Shannon

4 to 8

* "The Disappearing Alphabet" by Richard Wilbur

* "Frog Face: My Little Sister and Me" by John Schindel

* "Honk!" by Pamela Duncan Edwards

5 to 10

* "The Secret Knowledge of Grown-ups" by David Wisniewski

* "So Far from the Sea" by Eve Bunting

* "Zelda and Ivy" by Laura McGee Kravsnosky

Tricia Bishop

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