Teaching parents to teach kids

More than a dozen Jefferson Elementary School parents got a lesson Wednesday night in reading comprehension in an effort to help their children become better readers.

Marine Avagyan, the school’s teacher specialist and reading coach, went over reading tips and guidelines with parents in the school’s gym Wednesday during the “How to Become a Good Reader” workshop, which was designed to help parents become proactive in their children’s reading skills.

Parents need to ask their children questions about their readings, read stories to them and read the stories with enthusiasm, Avagyan said.

Some of her ideas were more offbeat, such as having children write a “food recipe” so they learn how to break words and sentences into steps, she told parents.

Many students at the school struggle with reading, she said.

“For many kids, reading has never been pleasurable to them,” Avagyan said. “It’s always been a struggle, a painful experience.”

The school’s teachers have been dedicated in improving reading comprehension at the school, which scored low in standardized tests in the subject of reading, she said. But the school is slowly making progress in improving students’ reading comprehension, Avagyan said.

“I want you to get the right strategies, so you can use them at home,” she told parents.

Children who don’t do well in reading comprehension have difficulty with fluency, which allows them to focus on a word’s meaning and accurately pronounce it, Avagyan said.

“Language has a sound,” she told parents. “Connecting the picture of the letter to the sound of the letter.”

The more children struggle with fluency or reading, the less they want to do it, Avagyan said.

Avagyan has seen many students encounter difficulty with fluency, she said.

She taught teens from ages 12 to 17 during the summer and many of the students were reading at a second-grade level, Avagyan told parents. Some of the students had trouble with reading because they came to the United States from another country when they were older, but others just never learned to read at a higher level, she said.

Parents need to read with their children and be positive so that their children can become better readers in order to be at their grade’s reading comprehension level, she said.

Parent Edita Kolsuzyan has been trying to help her 5-year-old son, Aleksan, who is in kindergarten, learn how to read and pronounce words.

She reads to her son and goes over phonics flashcards with him.

But Kolsuzyan plans on becoming more proactive in teaching her son how to read and will use some of the techniques that she learned at the workshop, she said.

She will ask her son questions about his reading and even use illustrations to ensure that he understood what he read, Kolsuzyan said.

“I am going to make him draw some pictures to make sure he is making a connection,” Kolsuzyan said.

Kindergarten teacher Suzanne McDonnell attended the workshop and teaches Aleksan.

“I think it really helps parents understand the importance of reading at home,” she said. “What is so important is to demonstrate the love of reading.”


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