Thursday, October 7, 2010

20 Minutes Worth of Ideas

Remember on Monday when I said it's tough sometimes to carve out those 20 minutes for reading practice?

Well, sometimes it's also hard to carve out 20 minutes for blogging. I certainly meant to post these ideas yesterday, but Life, as they say, intervened.

So here they are, a day late but no less valuable. Twenty minutes of reading can be very intimidating for a child, so the purpose here is to mix things up a bit so they don't feel any overwhelming sense of pressure. Let me clarify that these are for kids who are school age -- 1st, 2nd, even 3rd grade. Possibly Kindergarten if your child is really smokin' hot in the reading department.

1. Partner read. Mom or Dad reads a paragraph, then the child reads a paragraph. Alternate for several minutes or for the whole time. My son often forgets where he's supposed to stop and will sometimes keep reading to the end of the page (which is a much more obvious break than a paragraph when you're 7). For short books or books with a little text on each page, you could alternate pages.

2. Popcorn read. The child begins reading and then stops at some random point. When s/he stops, s/he says "Mom, go!" and the parent picks up at that point and reads for awhile. Then the parent stops at a random point and says "Go!" to the child, and so on. This really forces the child (and the parent) to follow along as the other one is reading.

3. Stop and Go. This is for when your child is maxed out on reading aloud. The parent does all the reading, but stops at random points in the text. The child must then point to where the parent stopped.

4. Whisper read. Either the parent, or the child, or both, read the text in a whisper. Kids usually love this one because it's different -- like making pancakes in the shape of a mouse. They're still pancakes but they seem exotically different. The kids are still reading, but whispering brings it a nice sense of novelty.

5. Shout it out. If you can stand the noise, you could read the text as loudly as possible. Obviously not good right before bedtime.

6. Out Loud/In Loud. Alternate silent and out-loud reading. This is a good one as their reading skills improve. The child reads a page or a paragraph to him/herself and then says "done." The parent picks up the reading from that point out loud. Have the child alternate silent and out-loud reading -- in other words, the child shouldn't be only reading silently.

7. Mixer. Combine any or all of the above ideas. Popcorn read for a bit, then alternate paragraphs, then whisper for a while, then have the child read silently, etc.

There's no magic formula that's going to work -- it's just practice. And changing things up a bit to keep your child interested. And then more practice.

But it does work, if you put in the time.

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