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Make Your Child a School Success

How you can boost your child's reading skills?

By understanding the virtues of scientifically based reading research instruction, parents can help strengthen their children's reading skills, setting them up for lifelong learning success.

To help parents understand what they and teachers can do to help improve their child's reading skills, the Partnership for Reading, a federal initiative that strives to ensure all students become proficient readers, provides free resources that include tips for parents of very young children through third grade.

The resources include "A Child Becomes a Reader," a series that offers activities parents can do with their children to boost reading skills and vocabulary. It also provides insight into what questions parents should be asking of teachers to determine progress and the classroom reading program implemented at their child's school.

Some of the questions include:

• Does the classroom have plenty of books and magazines; are there lots of signs, posters and labels that contain words and phrases all around?

• Does the teacher read aloud and from many different kinds of books?

• Does the teacher have the children practice writing skills and make spelling development a part of writing activities?

• Does the teacher explicitly teach letter-sound relationships and "irregular" works that do not follow the letter-sound relationships, such as said, is, was and are?

• Does the teacher provide explicit instruction in phonemic awareness and have the children practice with phonemes? For example, do they clap out the sounds they hear in words (segmentation), put sounds together to make words (blending), add or drop sounds from words (phoneme addition and deletion), and replace sounds in words (phoneme substitution)?

• Does the teacher help children recognize simple, common spelling patterns in words?

• Does the teacher model fluent reading when reading aloud to children and monitor children's own progress in fluency by having them read aloud often?

"Parents can make a very important contribution to their children's school success by learning as much as they can about how schools teach reading," said Dr. Sandra Baxter, Director of the Partnership for Reading. "Asking good questions can help direct teachers' and administrators' attention to reading and emphasize the value of scientifically based instruction. A Child Becomes a Reader describes what parents should see in their schools and what families can do at home to build their children's reading skills."

A Child Becomes a Reader is available free of charge. To download a PDF version of the guide, go to A Partnership for Reading for a printed copy call ED Pubs at 1-800-228-8813. The website provides a wealth of knowledge and offers research, resources, and tips for parents to provide their children with the literacy skills that will propel them toward academic success.