Advancing Literacy

Supporting early readers at home

“Reading to children at home is the most important thing you can do.”

This advice, based on decades of research into how children learn to read, was one of many practical pieces of information that literacy educator Danny Wagner offered to Katonah-Lewisboro’s elementary school parents and caregivers recently.

Wagner, a consultant with Advancing Literacy at Teachers College, led workshops for parents and caregivers at each of the District’s elementary schools on March 13 – 15.

“He addressed the ways that the home and school connection can continuously support students’ development of foundational literacy skills,” said Dr. Julia Drake, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. “These workshops also showed parents some of the important ways that teachers support reading development in the classroom.”

Advancing Literacy Presentation

coaching your young reader while they read to you

Wagner touched on the science of reading, reviewing key research on early reading and the process of orthographic mapping—using the oral language processing part of the brain to connect the sounds of words a student already knows to the letters in a word.

What resonated most with his audience were Wagner’s practical reminders.

“If your child obsessed with a certain topic, find a book about it,” he said. “Read it. Talk about it. Use its vocabulary.” He gave parents permission to keep it short and to let it go. “Children don’t have to read for tons of time at home.”

talking about books with your young readers

He reminded his audience that much of the kindergarten through second grade school day is spent working inside of a systemized program of literacy. “Teachers reinforce increasingly important skills each day,” he said. “They match students to reading materials that support early reading development.”

“If independent reading at home is a struggle for your children, don’t push them.” He suggested ways to incorporate playful interactions, games, and conversations. “Read the world,” he said. “Point out the print in the world. Make it tactile. Say a word and ask the child to make it clay, draw it, or act it out.”

“The number one thing you can do to support your child’s reading skills is to read to them and talk about what you are reading,” he said. “Readers talk about books.”