How we can help support our children’s reading at home (notes from a Montessori info talk)

I wasn’t able to personally attend a recent talk on ‘Reading Skill Development’ and how as parents we can help support our children at home, but I was able to get access to some notes that I wanted to share with you.

Some things to consider when helping support your child’s reading at home- Notes from a Montessori school information evening:

1. Explore– visiting a library or bookstore gives your child the chance to explore/find books that interest them.

2. Reading is Practice– make time for reading within the home- (encourage independent reading, reading aloud or reading to/with a sibling)

3. Make it Fun– read with your child, discuss books together and explore research topics.

4. Be the Reader– children learn by example. Let you child see you read as well as discuss topics that interest you.

5. Pick ‘good fit’ books. An example of this;

  • The purpose of the book matches the purpose for reading
  • The book matches the child’s interest
  • The Child can understand what they are reading
  • The child can retell the story in their own words
  • The child can read most of the words

6. Ask Questions- here are some suggestions;

  • Predictions- Can you predict what will happen next in the story?
  • Characters- Why do you think the character decided to do that?
  • Main Idea- What is the main idea of the article that the writer is trying to tell us?
  • Problem- What is the main problem in the story that the character is trying to solve?
  • Solution- Was there another way to solve the problem?
  • Retell story- How would you explain the story in your own words?
  • Genre- What type of story is it? Fiction? Non-Fiction? A comedy? A drama?
  • Moral- What was the message that we needed to learn from in the story?

Tips for Beginner Readers;

  1. Point out, read and discuss words that are in natural settings- for example stores, streets etc
  2. Memorise Sight Words
  3. Visualise the story in your head
  4. Ask questions before, during and after reading
  5. Instead of telling an unknown word to a child, instead ask them to;
  • sound out the word
  • Break the word into parts
  • Try a different vowel sound (long or short)
  • Use illustrations for clues
  • Skip the word, re-read sentence, and go back- what word would make sense?

Tips for Advanced Readers;

  • Notice interesting, new vocabulary words, and make it a challenge to use them in a conversation.
  • Read with expression- try to make it sound like you are speaking it.
  • Explore Non-fiction books and their text features (diagrams, table of contents, etc) along with other genres as well.
  • Compare and contrast books
  • Discuss connections to literature.
  • Think of new titles for books
  • Explore multiple books from the same author.

How do we support reading in our home at 4.5 and 6.5 years?

  • Lead by example– my children often see me reading and writing as this is what I love to do.
  • Make reading part of our night-time Rhythm. There are some days that we are unable to read before bed, but most nights after baths/showers we will settle in for a few stories. Even though my eldest loves to read independently, she prefers that we all read together before bed.
  • We visit the local library every three weeks to top up on books. We often get a combination of fictional story books including seasonal stories, non-fiction reference books and sometimes readers (more for Mr 4) and poetry books.
  • We don’t just read books, we also listen to audio books, tell stories (made up on the spot and stories about things we did in the past such as what my children were like when they were younger. Both of my children also like to take turns reading aloud a book most nights.

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, I have a Reading Support volunteer role at my children’s school, each week, in both Children’s House (for 3-6 year olds) and Lower Primary (for 6-9 year olds). For the younger children, in Children’s House, many of them will read 1-2 Reader books or their own book from home, with me and some of the children who are not yet reading, will usually do some kind of Montessori pre-reading Language work from the (Pink, Blue or Green Language Series).

With the older children in Lower Primary, many of the early/beginner readers will choose a book (mostly non-fiction) from ‘colour coded’ baskets which differentiates the level of difficulty whereas the advanced readers may choose to bring in their own book from home, a reference book or a poetry book which we often will discuss together. I had one child who has a passion for all things ‘dinosaur’ so he brought in a rather large reference book to show me and he talked about his favourite dinosaurs and why he loved them.

Readers for 6-9 age group.jpg
Colour-coded Readers. The colour sticker on the book (orange) matches a colour tag attached to a basket. Many of the Readers in my daughter’s Lower Primary classroom, I have seen available for loan at our local library. Miss 6 brings home three-four readers of her choice every second week to read at home.

I am lucky that I am able to read with my daughter each week in her classroom. She reads one-two chapters from one of her favourite book series each week with me. I have noticed that many of the children that I read with in the 6-9 year age group seem to love book series, especially funny, adventure books. One thing I do have available when a child is reading a chapter book, is a ruler which the child will place under each sentence they are reading which just helps them to keep their place. We also write down what page/chapter they got up to so they can continue on from that point when I am there the following week for reading in case they loose their bookmark.

Early reader chapter books.jpg
Miss 6’s current favourite chapter books. I got this set second-hand via Ebay.

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