• Parental Involvement

    Students are expected to complete all assigned work and practice reading at home each day.  20 minutes of reading aloud is vital piece of daily practice.  When students practice reading with their voice, even if it is a whisper, their fluency, expresion, and comprehension can improve.   

    As a parent, your help is necessary to assist your child to reach reading proficiency.  Parents are encouraged to attend conferences and assist at home to develop good reading habits.  We ask that you contact your child’s teacher with any concerns you may have about their progress. 

    Phonemic Awareness

    Ask the following questions when working with your child.  You can make it a game; ask students when they are reading, at the dinner table, in the car, etc.  Make words progressively more challenging as they master these skills.  Increase the amount of sounds within each word and the amount of syllables.


    Ask child if 2 words rhyme.  (Ex.  Can/man   box/lip…)

    Say rhyming pairs and ask child to provide another rhyming word.  (Ex.  Rack, sack, ____; bake, lake, ___)

    Syllables  (rain-bow;  cir-cus)

    (Blending)  Say the words with a pause between syllables.  Have child say word.       (Ex.  Sail     boat,     cow     boy…)

    (Segmenting)  Say the word and have student clap, tap, or say each syllable part.           (Ex.  Rainbow (2), Man (1), watermelon (4)…)

    (Deletion)  Say the word and ask child o say the word.  Now say the word without ______.

                      (Ex.  “Starfish.  Now say it without –fish”.  Child should say “star”.  Rain (drop),  (pan)cake)


    Say the first sound of the word, pause, and then the rest of the word.  Have the child say the word as a whole.                                        (Ex. “ /s/…at-  what is that word?”     /m/…op,  /f/…ish, /l/…ock)  

    Say the word sound by sound.  Ask the child to say the word as a whole.           (Ex. /s/  /u/  /n/,            /sh/  /u/  /t/,       /f/  /ee/  /t/…)


    Say each word.  Have the child say the first sound her heard in each word.  Last sound; middle sound… To challenge students when they master this skill you can ask them about the second sound, fourth, etc.)          (Ex.  First sound in sun is /s/.   mop, candle, yellow…)

    Say each word.   Have the child say each word sound by sound.      (Ex.  Lake, rocks, chip, strap…) 



    Story Time  When reading to your child talk about words, letters, and sounds. For example, ask your child, “What words do you see on this page that start with the same letter as your name?” Or, ask, “What is the beginning sound in the word ‘car’?” Or, point out, “Look, that word has the chunk /ip/ in it. What sounds does that chunk make?”


    Magnetic Letters Keep magnetic letters on your fridge and take turns spelling secret words for each other to see.


    Fun Words Make words in fun ways with clay, play dough, or sand and talk about the sounds that make up the words.


    Neighborhood Words Look for letters or words in your house or neighborhood. Point out the letters you see and the sounds they make as you read words on signs, labels, menus and the TV.


    Wonderful Writer Writing can help develop phonics skills so have your child write grocery lists, letters, or birthday cards. 



    Fluency is defined as the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and proper expression. In order to understand what they read, children must be able to read fluently whether they are reading aloud or silently. When reading aloud, fluent readers read in phrases and add intonation appropriately. Their reading is smooth and has expression. 


    Paired or "buddy" reading

    The easiest and best way to help your child develop fluency is to sit with your child and read! Read together every day, which is often called paired or buddy reading. To use paired reading, simply take turns reading aloud. You go first, as your reading provides a model of what good fluent reading sounds like. Then, ask your child to re-read the same page you just read. You'll notice that your child's reading will start to sound more and more like yours. Do this for several pages. Once your child is comfortable enough, and familiar enough with the book, take turns reading page for page.

    Reread favorite books

    A second way parents can help develop fluency is to build a tall stack of books that your child can read quickly and easily. Encourage your child to reread favorite books over and over again. With each reading, you may notice your child reading a bit easier, a bit faster, and with a bit more confidence and expression.

    Ham it up with a script

    Sometimes teachers use poetry and simple, short scripts with kids as a way to foster fluency. Often called Reader's Theater, these short scripts can be a great way to beat the heat on a hot, summer day. Print out enough scripts for each reader and divide up the parts. Then, start rehearsing! With Reader's Theater, there is no need for costumes, and no need to memorize parts. The goal is to encourage your child to read and reread his lines over and over again as part of the play practice. Because it's a play, encourage expression and silliness on behalf of the characters! You'll have fun and be building fluency at the same time.



    • Engage your child in conversations every day. If possible, include new and interesting words in your conversation.
    • Read to your child each day. When the book contains a new or interesting word, pause and define the word for your child. After you're done reading, engage your child in a conversation about the book.
    • Help build word knowledge by classifying and grouping objects or pictures while naming them.
    • Help build your child's understanding of language by playing verbal games and telling jokes and stories.
    • Encourage your child to read on his own. The more children read the more words they encounter and learn.



    Thinking Strategies

    Reading is Thinking! Use these sentence starters to respond to your reading

    Making Connections

     This reminds me of …

     I have a connection …

     An experience I have had like that

     This reminds me of the book …

     When I read _____, it made me think of

    Asking Questions

     I wonder

     Why?

     How?

     I was confused when

     What if…

    Visualizing/Sensory Imaging

     In my mind I can see

     I visualized…

     I can see …

     When I read ______, I saw …

     I can taste/hear/smell/feel …

    Inferring and Predicting

     This tells me that …

     I am guessing that …

     I think…

     Maybe this means…

     I predict _____ because …

    Author’s Message

     This author is really saying…

     I believe the hidden meaning is…

     The larger message about the world is…

     The lesson that the author is trying to teach is…


     At first I thought _____, but now I think…

     I am changing my thinking again because …

     I think the lesson or theme is …

     These events make me believe that…


     So far this book is mostly about …

     The main ideas in this book are …

     An important event in the book is …

     First, Second, Third, Fourth, Last


     I agree with ____ because …

     I disagree with ____ because …

     I do think …

     I do not think …


     Something I noticed about the setting was…

     The setting reminded me of…

     I would/would not like to live during this time period…

     The setting is important to the story because…


     If I were (character), I would …

     The character that interests me the most is …

     (character) really changed when

     I do like/don’t like (character) because


    Ask Powerful Questions

    What are you discovering?

    What do you notice?

    What do you wonder?

    Is this helping you as a reader?

    So what?

    Now what?

    What do you see?

    What makes you say that?


    Read Short Segments Your child’s reading comprehension will increase if you break down the story into small segments and then discuss what happened before continuing the story. Read one or two pages, stop, and talk about what has happened so far. Discuss questions such as:

    • Who are the characters in this story?
    • Where does this story take place?
    • What do you think might happen next?

    As your child thinks about and responds to these questions, he or she becomes more engaged in the story, taking an interest in the characters and what happens to them. Also while reading the short segments, ask questions about a previous segment and repeat some of the questions already answered. This helps cement retention in your child’s mind.

    At first, it’s okay if you get through only a small portion of the story or if your child has difficulty remembering details. Reading comprehension is a skill that is built slowly. Focus on gradual building of comprehension rather than instant improvement.

    Create a "Movie in your Head"  Practice helping kids create a "movie in their head" while they are reading.  Teaching students how to visualize what they are reading will help with comprehension.  Ask about what they are visualizing and encourage students to explain the details about what they are picturing in their head.  See if they can explain the details to help you create the same picture in your head.  Ask questions like: "What do you see?"  "What does that look like?"  "Tell me more about the details?"  "What is in the background?"  "How big?" "Where are they?" "What is the mood?" "What colors do you see?"

    Relate Story to Real Life Are you read a story, ask questions related to the plot such as, “Does this remind you of something?” or “Have you ever felt that way?” or “Have you ever gone to a place like that? What did you do when you were there?” When your child connects what’s happened in the story to his or her life, details are easier to understand and recall. This skill strengthens over time as your child practices it more and more.

    Use All Five Senses for Reinforcement Increasing reading comprehension involves more than just reading text. Oftentimes, children with special needs learn best if they use more than one sense at a time. Listening to an audio CD of the book while following along on the written page gives children both the ability to “see” the text and to “hear” it at the same time. If a book is also available on DVD, your child may benefit from acting out the story along with the characters on the screen, or acting out some scenes in the story immediately after they’ve been read.

    Use Art to Reinforce Plot Making construction paper cutouts of scenes from the book, coloring pictures that depict events in the plot, or making figures out of clay or play-dough also aid comprehension while also being very enjoyable. Such exercises are more concrete than simply reading about what happens to the characters.

    Repeat  Repetition is one of the most important ways to help your special-needs child increase reading comprehension. Whether that means reading the same story every night and/or simply going back within the story and rereading a certain segment to clarify what’s happening, repetition is key. Repetition increases comprehension, both when your child is read to (and allowed to follow along) and when he or she reads to you. Not only does this establish the plot in your child’s mind, but the words used in a particular story become more familiar, too. Finally, doing this “story repetition” at least in part at night before your child goes to sleep is a great way to increase retention. Research has shown that “sleeping on” information encourages retention.