What helps kids bloom and grow as readers? Brainy reading strategies! Here are five easy brain-friendly tips that you can incorporate into your family reading time tonight.
- Don’t worry, be happy! Mood affects the brain and learning in a BIG way. Keep family reading time positive, happy and fun. Laugh together at the funny parts in the book, and don’t get too caught up on correcting your child’s mistakes. (I love this post from Teach Mama about What NOT to say to your emergent reader.) Provide specific, positive feedback when you notice growth in reading skills to keep the ball rolling.
- Access prior knowledge. We need to have a frame of reference when we begin a new book or a reading passage. When you have prior knowledge about a topic, it helps you “file” the new related information that you collect while reading. A reader needs prior knowledge in order to really comprehend reading material. Talk about what your child knows related to the topic before reading. If they don’t have much prior knowledge about the topic, gather some background information together. In our tech-filled world, we can hop on a website and be transported to pretty much any place and time in an instant; but even sharing a personal story from your own life is a great way strengthen your child’s background knowledge and help them get ready to read.
- Connect. Like prior knowledge, readers need to make connections as they read. What does this event or character remind me of in my own life? Where have I heard about something like this before? How is this like another book I’ve read or a TV show I’ve watched? Connections are the hooks where readers hang new information as they read. Brains LOVE connections, and these hooks/connections help readers hold on to the information from the text and comprehend it better.
- Picture it. First of all, take some time to really study the pictures, charts and diagrams in books. Have a conversation about what the picture is telling you. Chat about the author’s purpose related to the illustrations or other images. A picture really is worth a thousand words, and our brains love them! It’s also important to go beyond the pictures on the page. Good readers “make a movie” in their heads as they read. They visualize a story in detail, they imagine applying what they learn and they make mental models of information from nonfiction texts. This becomes an increasingly important skill as kids transition from picture books to chapter books with fewer images. Helping kids develop this skill is a helpful and fun way to improve reading comprehension, and read aloud time is a perfect time to do it. Ask your child to make a mental movie next time you’re reading a bedtime story. Talk about what he or she visualizes as you read. Picturing reading material helps make it meaningful and leads to comprehension.
- Add some action. Take occasional breaks to act out the story or to make a representation of the information in the reading. Or just take occasional breaks to move and stretch. Kids, (and grownups), often need movement breaks to sustain focus and continue to comprehend, especially when the material is challenging.
Learning is so much easier when we keep our brains happy! For more brain-friendly teaching strategies, check out my Brainy Learning board on Pinterest.