You are your child"s first and most important teacher. Use this article to help
your young child learn to read.
story "H" is for Hallie is about the parent of a first grader. As you read it,
watch for ways that Hallie"s mother helps her learn to read, like when they
find words that begin with "H" or when they take turns reading.
your child"s reading skills by trying the suggested activities. Use the
CHECKLIST at the end to think about your child"s reading skills.
my daughter learn to read is an important part of being her mom. It"s right
after keeping her safe and making sure she eats and sleeps enough, in my book.
Hallie just started first grade. It will be an important year for both of us. I
know if she can read by the end of first grade, she should do well in school.
know I can help Hallie practice what she learns in school, so I try to make
reading a big part of our life. I"ve learned that there"s a lot we can do while
reading. Just doing everyday things will make Hallie an even stronger reader. I
hadn"t thought of some of the ideas before, but now they make sense.
needs to know "sight words," like "and" and "the" that you need to know when
you see them. So we"ll flip through a magazine together just to find words like
that—"was" and "to" and "by."
can already find a lot of H words.It"s her favorite letter, because it starts
her name. And it"s the beginning of "horse," her favorite animal, and
"hamburger," her favorite food. Sometimes on the way to the school bus stop we
make up tongue-twisters, like "Horrid Harriet Hated Hats, Had Halloween Hair."
That gets us started on all kinds of games, like thinking of other words like
"ghastly" and "hideous" that mean the same thing as "horrid."
thrilled that she knows the meaning of words like "horrid." It"s an unusual
word. When I read Hallie a word I think she doesn"t know, I ask her about it. I
want her to know as many words as she can, so she"s never at a loss for words.
is beginning to write actual words,although her spelling can be funny, like
hors for horse and blak for black. I can see that she"s sounding the words out,
and getting the sounds in the right order, even if she doesn"t get all the
letters. And she"s starting to notice when words aren"t exactly right, and ask
for help spelling them.
silly word games helps me feel close to her. If she"s helping me in the
kitchen, I might start with "you can catch a catfish, you can catch a flea,"
and she"ll go on with "you can catch a chicken, you can catch a bee," then I"ll
say, "you can catch a BUS—but you can"t catch me!" I"m glad I can still make
and I have always loved rhymes, but now I see how they make you notice the
sounds in words. I have heard that the more she notices about sounds, the
easier it will be to match those sounds to letters—and she can use that when
dinner, we talk about the day. It helps me remember what I did, and reminds me
of what"s important. And Hallie tells me about what she read at school and
about playing kickball with her best friend Joey at recess. Talking like this
helps her reading and writing because she has to use words, not pictures, to
make me see something.
know Hallie reads aloud at school, but I stillmake sure she reads to me for
five or ten minutes every day. I help her sound out the words she can"t read
yet. Sometimes we take turns reading pages so she can hear me saying some of
the harder words. Now that Hallie"s older, Ican read her longer books, like
chapter books. I didn"t hear a lot of books as a child, so it"s a treat for me,
too. I get so caught up in those stories! We chatter away about the characters,
and what she or I would do in their places.
crazy about horses, even though we live in a city. Someday I hope I can take
her to ride one. But meanwhile, we read about them. We go to the library, and
Hallie chooses books she can read to herself. Some nights, when I check on her
after she"s asleep, she"s still holding one of those books about horses.
don"t visit Hallie"s school often, because I work, but I go to evening meetings
when I can. I"m glad her classroom has plenty of books. Almost everything"s
labeled, from the reading rug to a plastic elephant, and there are letters and words
up on the walls. The teacher puts the kids" writing up on the wall, too. I look
for Hallie"s first, of course. She doesn"t write as well as some of the other
kids, but she"s definitely writing!
I like best, though, are the questions the teacher asks: "Who is in the
picture?" "Why did the boy draw monsters?" "How do you think the story will
end?" It shows me that he is asking them to think, not just know words. With
his questions, the teacher is encouraging Hallie to be the smart person she is.
days I leave work early so I can pick Hallie up at school and talk with her
teacher. I want to know how she"s doing. The last time I visited, the teacher
said Hallie could practice writing more. So I"ve been asking Hallie to write me
notes sometimes when she has a question, and every month we write a letter to
her grandfather together.
on the way home from school Hallie and I stopped at the corner grocery. I
picked up some cookies—for later, I told her, after dinner and some practice
writing. But it was still early, so Hallie asked if we could walk home the long
way, through the park. The trees were soft and hazy. The leaves weren"t out
yet, and the flowers hadn"t begun to blossom yet. But they will. And so will
asking your first grader questions like these when you read together.
is the fox helping the boy find? The golden horse.
does the fox tell the boy to do with the old saddle? Put it on the horse.
a fox really let a boy sit on his back? Could a fox really fly? Not really.
This is imagination.
you think the boy will follow the fox"s advice this time? Why or why not? Probably,
because he didn"t listen the first time and got into trouble.
many words can you think of the rhyme with fox? With gold? Box, socks, clocks,
etc. Fold, hold, rolled, etc.
many words on these pages start with "w"? Seven.
are some words that mean the same as "fast?" Quick, speedy, rapid.
is a "groom"? A person who takes care of horses.
color is "golden" like? Yellow.
do you see behind the castle? Mountains.
fox said, "Now you see what happened because you did not listen to me! I will
help you find the golden horse, but this time, do as I tell you.
we reach the castle, go straight to the barn. There you will find the horse,
his groom sleeping nearby, and two saddles. One saddle will be made of gold,
and the other of old leather. Lead the horse away quietly, but put the old
leather saddle on him. Leave the golden saddle behind."
the boy climbed onto the fox"s back and they flew off so fast the wind whistled
in the boy"s hair.
[ ] My child knows all
the letters of the alphabet.
[ ] My child knows the
difference between letters and words, and knows there are spaces between words
[ ] My child knows that
written words represent speech and can show how words are represented by
letters arranged in a specific order.
[ ] My child knows some
punctuation marks and where sentences and paragraphs begin and end.
[ ] My child is
beginning to understand and explain why people read.
[ ] My child can put
together (blend) and break apart the sounds of most one-syllable words and can
count the number of syllables in a word.
[ ] My child can sound
out words he doesn"t know, and recognize some irregularly spelled words, such
as have, said, you, and are.
[ ] My child reads first
grade books aloud, and can tell when she cannot understand what she is reading.
These skills usually develop during first grade. Talk with your child"s teacher
if you have questions.
[ ] My child reads and
understands simple written instructions.
[ ] My child uses what
he already knows to enrich what he is reading.
[ ] My child predicts
what will happen next in a story
[ ] My child asks
questions (how, why, what if?) about books she is reading and can describe what
she has learned from a book.
[ ] My child uses
invented spelling in his writing and also understands that there is correct way
to spell words.
[ ] My child uses simple
punctuation marks and capital letters.
[ ] My child writes for
different purposes— stories, explanations, lists, letters&
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