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Start Early to Grow Academic Skills

Last updated 3 years ago

From their first book reports to their graduate school dissertations, your kids will be developing their academic reading and writing skills. Here are some important ways you can help them in this process.
Make summarizing a habit
We know from experience that simply reading chapters in a textbook will not get us ready for a test the next day.
The study process that seems to work best for most of us is this: Read the material once to get overall meaning. Summarize the main points. Read again, annotating, highlighting, or taking notes. Read a third time to retain the information and understand it well enough to think critically about it.
By reinforcing the practice of reading and summarizing with our kids, we can make it a habit they will be grateful for the rest of their lives.
Kids can start this process even before they are able to read. As you read a story to them, pause at the end of a scene and ask a question like, "What did the rabbit do in this part?"
Older kids can begin to annotate. At the end of a scene or chapter, have them write a few words on a Post-it note to summarize the main idea or event in that section. Stick the notes inside the book cover. At the end, ask the child to read the notes in order.  Talk about main points and the parts of the writing that your child especially remembers. This method reinforces the concept of summarizing—knowing the whole by looking at the main parts.
If your child has trouble with writing, you can use a speech-to-text tool to accomplish the same thing.
Recognize the roots
Lack of vocabulary is a big factor when we have difficulty understanding what we read.  Boost your kids' enthusiasm for learning academic vocabulary by using new words in your family conversation and developing a word-friendly home.
Why not let kids put a list of word roots, prefixes, and suffixes on the wall in their rooms? Find lists online, print them, and let your kids add their personal touches to make the lists part of their décor. Looking at the lists often will help your kids recognize word parts when they see them in new words.
Get some assistance
Check out some of the high and low-tech tools like audio recorders, reading guides, writing supports, and even special seat cushions that to help kids with reading and writing challenges.
With some thought and effort, you can provide foundations for your kids' learning that will continue to serve them throughout their lives.
Contact us at The Literacy & Language Center for more ideas about how you can enhance your learning environment at home.

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