Parents often ask me what they can do at home to help improve their child’s reading. If their child is a struggling reader, I am asked if I know of any programs they can purchase to help. The best, super-secret, most-effective program a parent can use to improve their child’s reading ability is called FVR. This stands for free voluntary reading. This is the amount of reading that a child does voluntarily, apart from any assigned school reading. In other words, reading practice. Daily reading practice is one of the most powerful and effective research-based instruction practices that can be implemented at home or at school.
A couple of tips for parents:
1. You cannot practice if you have nothing with which to practice. This means weekly or bi-weekly trips to the library.
2. You often need to help your child find a book that is at their independent level or below. Often, when visiting a library, a child will find a book that is of interest but is too hard. One strategy is to ask the child to read the first paragraph and the last paragraph. If it is too difficult or does not make sense, that book might be a little hard.
3. Celebrate easy books. There is nothing wrong with reading easy books. Adults do it all the time. As long as the child is enjoying the book and creating meaning with print
4. Reading practice can be done with things other than books. Comic strips are wonderful to use for reading practice. For younger readers, the pictures can be used to help carry the story. For older readers, advice columns, comic books, or even graphic novels can be used to help with reading practice.