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NYC Helpline: How To: Work with Students' Families

How to Show Parents How to Use Reading Strategies  Allison Demas

Good reading instruction shows students how to help themselves as readers. It provides them with strategies, such as looking at the picture, the three cueing system, skip and return, and determining vocabulary from context. We would like to think that our students then go off and use these strategies whenever they are reading. We would like to think that this happens, but many times this is not the case. Sometimes they simply forget how to help themselves and need a prompt. And who better to prompt them than their parents.

First we need to show their parents how to provide these prompts. You will need to present a demonstration of the particular strategy you want your students to use. This means that you need to write up a script and rehearse with whomever is going to assist you. One person will pretend to be the child and one will be the parent. You should find a perfect example of the strategy you want to present, preferably from a book your students have used or will use. Make a copy of the page, and either enlarge it or use an overhead projector to display it. You should present the strategy just as you would in your classroom with a student. But, instead of pointing to a small book you will be using the enlarged text or overhead projector.

The procedure should be presented and then explained. It is best to first show it in its entirety so the parents can see exactly how their conversation should occur. It is a good idea to write up a strategy sheet which breaks down the steps of the strategy. This should be distributed to the parents after the demonstration. A recap of the presentation could be conducted while you present the sheet, matching the steps on the sheet with your actions in the demonstration. Of course, any papers presented in English should be translated into the necessary languages.

If the parents know what we do in the classroom then they can provide the same assistance outside the classroom. The children will (one hopes) make the connection to their classroom experiences and then remember to help themselves.

Everyone wins when you show parents how to use reading strategies. The parents become active participants in their child’s education, the child becomes a better reader, and your job becomes easier, more enjoyable and more fulfilling.


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