Helpful strategies

As your child's first teacher, you may be feeling a sense of loss of control when your child goes off to school.  While you can't control what is going on in the classroom, you can and should still have a huge impact on your child's education.  In fact, the one-on-one time you provide your child will be a key factor in his or her success.  

Below you will find a reading and writing activity that will put you in your child's shoes and help you understand some of the learning process.  In the Newsletter section you will find more information, tips, and activities to try with your child.


Why are sight words (or high frequency words) so important?  Try to read this text to find out!

Xxx   xxx   xx   xxxxxxx   xxx   xxx.

Now try to read the text again.  This time you’ll notice I’ve included the sight words.

The   xxx   is   xxxxxxx   his   xxx.

With the help of the sight words and the picture, it’s a lot easier to read:
The boy is walking his dog.

Sight words are words that are not easy to read using sounds since the spelling does not always match the way they are read (ex. the word “was” sounds more like “wuzz”).    Notice that in the sentence above, the sight words make up 50% of the text.  In any given text that your child will read, the sight words will likely make up 1/3 to 1/2 of the text.  If your child has trouble reading sight words, his/her reading rate and comprehension will be at risk.  However, when your child can recognize and read these words efficiently, he/she can master more challenging words and stories because the story flow, pictures, and sound chunks can help your child figure out the rest.

Please do not cover pictures when your child is reading.  Pictures are a necessary tool that students use as a strategy to help them solve unknown and perhaps more complex words.  Some parents worry that their child is memorizing the words.  Yes, children do sometimes memorize words in repetitive stories, but that is a good thing.  The more often they see a word in print and can recognize it by sight, the better.  When your child does this, challenge him or her by picking out words in the sentence and asking your child to point them out to you.  For example, if the text says,  'The boat is big.', ask your child which word says 'boat'?  Since two words start with the letter B, your child will have to look further into the word, as well as think about placement in the sentence, to figure it out.


Visualize this common scene:

A ten month old baby is learning to walk, while holding onto her father’s hands and having her legs guided by a gentle nudge of her Dad’s feet.

As a witness to this, one generally praises the baby for her efforts, perhaps even claps while saying, “You’re walking!”  We don’t dwell on that scene negatively and think, “Well, she’s not really walking; she isn’t even bending her knees.”  Even though this child is not actually walking by herself, she is on the path to becoming a walker.

This stage is part of a process, which usually also includes crawling.  Some children may crawl backward before moving forward and others never crawl at all.  Some children seem to crawl for a long time before getting up on their feet, yet we know that unless there is a severe medical issue, a child will not crawl forever.

How Does This Relate to Writing?

Think of your child’s attempts to write.  Every attempt is a great accomplishment and a good start on the journey to becoming a writer.  Children need to have their efforts acknowledged so they can feel like readers and writers.  With beginning writers, as with a child learning to walk or talk, we do not focus all of our attention on their faults or
mistakes.  Instead, we see what they can do and encourage their efforts while guiding them along the writing path.