Teaching children to improve their reading is one of the most profoundly satisfying aspects of being an educator of any kind. If teaching reading is something which makes up part of your professional profile, then it always pays to find new methods or tips which can tweak what you do in a positive way.
One of the most useful activities which any teacher of reading can organise is frequent reading aloud. This can be done is classroom groups or on an individual basis. It acquaints children with the sounds and rhythms of language used skilfully and it has a long-lasting and profound effect on how children respond to written texts when they encounter them.
The selection of suitable reading materials is also something that any teacher of reading must pay close attention to. Far too often children are handed books and other texts which are not only inappropriate for their ability levels, but also centre on material or stories which hold little appeal or interest. This contributes to the low motivation levels of many children when faced with reading tasks.
Discussion and Interpretation
Making sure that the children have understood what they have read is also important. Simply recognising words and sounding them is fine when it comes to recognising words in the text, but it does little to establish whether or not a child has understood the concepts and ideas behind the text. This process is not necessarily one of written questions and answers, but can be carried out effectively with discussion.
Simply taking a few minutes after reading to have a short discussion about the story or the ideas can help to reinforce comprehension skills. Ask questions that the child can answer and speculate about where the story or ideas in the texts might go. It can be fun to see who was right and it also encourages curiosity and fresh interest about what is going on in the text.
When it comes to activities aimed at groups of children in the classroom, it is often a good idea to use activities involving imagination to test comprehension. Small groups can work on drama presentations of sections of the text. Not only is this fun, it will also improve the whole group’s awareness of themes and ideas in the text and may bring up new ideas and interpretations that can shape future classes.
Another important consideration is the environment in which you teach the students their skills. When there are school refurbishments taking place in your institution, push for more space for books to be displayed in. Surrounding students with materials which proclaim the joy of reading also helps. When there is good access to a range of books and other materials, enthusiasm levels rise and it becomes much easier to teach.
The key to teaching reading is to be passionate about it and to infuse some of that passion in the children that you are teaching. Shape the environment and activities around that enthusiasm and it is likely that you will succeed.