At Hillcrest Elementary School, there is never such a thing as reading too much.
In fact, as part of the school's Family Reading and Literacy Program, students are encouraged to read at home every day with their parents .
At a recent kick-off for the annual program -themed A Good Forecast for Reading- parents were invited to have lunch with their children and stay for a program on how to make their students better readers.
Hillcrest Elementary School reading teacher Karine Grindberg works on a reading exercise with third-graders Ethan Andews, Tylor Simmons and Donna Schrzan recently. The school kicked-off its annual family literacy program this week with a lunch and program for parents.
"We want to encourage family literacy and getting the parents involved," said Lis Ristau, Hillcrest Elementary principal. "The neat thing is, when the parents come in, the kids get really excited about the program."
During the parents program, Elementary Literacy Coach Rosie Ellendson gave parents several tips on how to read interactively with their children to encourage reading comprehension.
"You should read to make connections," said Ellendson. "Ask questions after each page. Getting children to 'hook a book,' will help them to remember it longer." Ellendson recommended discussing book titles with children to give them an idea of what the story will be about.
"Tell them the title is about the whole story," she said. "That's the author's promise."
Ellendson encouraged parents to incorporate personal experiences into the story to draw children into what they are reading.
"Activate the file folder in your mind, that's one way for your kids to really comprehend what they are reading," she said.
Ellendson used analogies such as the "Kit-Kat Connector" and "Spinner the Spider" to make connections of what students already know to the text they are reading.
She also recommended using decoding strategies such as "Flippy the Dolphin" and "Peekin' Poodle" to understand words a child may not know.
"Flip a long vowel sound for a short sound or short vowel for a long vowel if it doesn't make sense," she said. "But try not to sound it out, that only works out for about 5 percent of all words."
Ellendson told the parents that helping their children read will encourage them to become good problem solvers.
"Don't tell them a word, stretch it out or look at the pictures," she said. "It will teach them to be problem solvers, which helps them to become independent readers."
After several weeks of studying reading, students will have a celebration with reading-themed games and each student will receive a book before going home for their long holiday break.
Ristau also hopes they will be able to host a similar program in the spring.
"We want to promote summer literacy, too," she said.
Contact Emilie Nelson at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org