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Reading is one of the most important activities that you can do with your children at home.  Not only does it build your relationship with your children, but it helps them to learn essential life skills. In today’s post, I’ll cover five concepts that you can focus on when reading with your child.

1. Phonological awareness
If your children are early elementary school age, they may need phonological awareness skills.  This is the ability to identify and distinguish among the various sounds of English.  Activities to increase phonological awareness include identifying sounds in words (e.g. What is the ending sound in cat?), rhyming activities, blending sounds (e.g. What is this word- /c/ /a/ /t/?), and segmenting sounds (e.g. What are the sounds in cat? /c/ /a/ /t/).

2. Phonics
Phonics is the ability to match the sounds of English with the individual letters.  Young children may work with basic consonant sounds and older children may work with Greek and Latin roots.  When your children know the patterns of English words, they can decode words easier and make connections between words they know and those that are new to them (e.g. If you know the word nation, you can figure out notion.)  Phonics can be fun with magnetic letters.  Words should be chosen from and practiced in the books that you read with your children, so that they will know how phonics is related to real-world reading.

3. Fluency
Fluency is the ability to read smoothly and with expression.  If your children read smoothly, they can focus on understanding what the text is about.  Make fluency fun by reading plays and poetry.

4. Vocabulary
Vocabulary refers to the collection of words that a child knows and understands.  Children who have an extensive vocabulary will have a greater recognition and understanding of what they read.  A fun challenge is to try to use new vocabulary words in everyday settings.  Reward your child when he or she uses the new words.

5. Comprehension
Children will find reading more enjoyable when there is an understanding of what the book is about.  Reading is more than just decoding the words, it is about immersing yourself in a good work of fiction, learning life lessons from literature, and gaining new knowledge.  Your children will enjoy informally talking about books.  These talks will create a love of reading that will motivate your child to read in his or her free time.

Awareness of these five concepts can make reading time much more enjoyable and effective!  In future posts, I’ll take this a step further by recommending specific books that I’ve used with my own students.  Until then, please leave a comment or let me know if you have any questions!