black and white photo of a little girl

Photo by Jan Prokeš on

School’s out, but don’t let the long break from school derail all the academic gains your child made this year!   Kids do regress if they don’t do any reading or writing activities during the long summer break, so to help prevent that, here are some ideas:

  1.  READ and READ some more.  Take your child to the library, and find books that they can read so they can continue to practice.  The children’s librarian can be a great help.
  2. If they are beginning readers, and are hesitant, keep it simple.  Echo reading is a great way to get them engaged without frustrating them, and helps them with fluency.
  3. I read, you read – take turns.  As you model, this helps with fluency and expression.
  4. If your child comes across words they don’t know ask them what strategies they know to figure out unknown words.  They should use picture clues, (yes …this is not cheating!), skip the word and read to the end of the sentence and then reread the sentence having their mouth ready to say the first sound in the word.  Often using the context will help them figure out the word.  This also teaches them that it’s ok to skip words and reread, and to always be thinking about what would make sense. Look for little words in big words.
  5. Go to the library each week for new books, and introduce them to fun series.  Your librarian can help if you don’t know what is available for kids your child’s age.  Also, check to see if your library has a summer reading program.  These can be motivating  to keep kids reading.
  6. Don’t forget to write.  Have your child keep a summer diary.  Writing helps with reading skills, and vice-versa.   Consider having a bedtime diary.  Your child writes you a note just before bed and puts it on your pillow.  You answer it so when they wake up in the morning, they can read it.  This is fun if done in a journal format so it builds.
  7. Consider writing letters or cards and mailing them to a friend or relative.  Relatives that you know will write back are the best!
  8. Have your child create lists if you are going shopping and when in the store, have them read around the store.
  9. Be sure to let them see you reading and writing and don’t forget to read to them!  Even older kids like being read to, and you can read them books that may be too hard for them, that teaches them science, social studies or math concepts.  This also helps with vocabulary development.
  10. Create a fun place in their room where they can keep books, paper, pens, crayons, etc.   Great for a rainy day!
  11. Most importantly, have fun with reading and writing.  Don’t worry about what level your child is and if you see them getting frustrated back off and follow their lead.    Love them as you enjoy some great summertime reading together!  Marvel if they are beginning to communicate through writing.  Correction is not the focus – but the message is!  If kids feel criticized and corrected as they are learning new things, they may shut down, and shut you out.  Follow their lead and delight in their unique abilities!
  12. If your child is reluctant, or simply doesn’t want to do any reading/writing – you may try making it part of a routine that comes before some things that you know they love.  My Grandkids are on summer break, and before we swim, we do some reading.  I think I love it just as much as they do!  It’s exciting for me to have my six-year-old Grandson reading to me!  I know the practice will help him as he begins first-grade in the Fall.
  13. Don’t ever compare your child to others – marvel in what it is that they can do and pay attention.  What may seem like nothing to you is a GREAT BIG DEAL to a young child who is just beginning to unravel the marvelous world of reading and writing.  What a gift you can give them by being with them on this journey!

Happy summer and happy reading and writing!

Reading Rockets is a great source for book ideas!





Daily writing in first-grade was a time when I was allowed into the lives of my young students.  AS I conferenced with them one-one, I heard about everything from birthday celebrations to sibling death.  This sacred time helped them find a writing voice, allowed me to get to know them, while also working on skills needed to develop as a reader and writer.

It’s  never too early to help your child find their voice as an author.   It begins from infancy with language, language, and more language as you read to them and talk with them.

AS soon as your child is old enough, provide markers, chalk, pens, pencils, crayons,  paper, white boards  ….and let them experiment with drawing and writing.


ASK your child to tell you a story about an experience.  Try and get them to focus on something real that happened to them, as this is much easier than make believe. This works best right after you and your child have experienced something together so you can say, “That was so much fun.  I don’t EVER want to forget that….why don’t we write a story about it!!”  (BE EXCITED!!!)  IMG_3336

For young preschoolers,  write  the words for them, and have them  illustrate each page.  Show respect by staying out of their creation once they are drawing, and make sure you ask them where they would like the words on the page.  When you write you are modeling left-right and top to bottom progression, and concept of “word” as you point to each word and read back what is written.   AND If your child is ready and willing, you can also work on letter/sound correspondence.  Once their book is done, put it in their library, and don’t forget to remind them that they are an author and illustrator. HOW EXCITING!!

AS always, follow your child’s lead, have fun and help them to love finding their voice as a writer.

Here is a great article about children’s writing development.

(above article from)Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 10.25.36 PM








Learning letters necessary?  Yes…. boring…NO!  These 26 symbols of our English language, when put together in the right order, are pretty powerful players.   Put together in the wrong order or leaving one behind and something that is very pretty can become petty.  A tart can become gassy and your dog may end up as a place for lots of dead plant material.

For toddlers and preschoolers who are beyond the stage of experiencing the world with their mouth, magnetic letters are a great tool for learning.   They can be front and center on your frig or used in a child’s lap with a cookie sheet, or on a desk with a small magnetic easel.


When you introduce your child to a new learning tool, such as magnetic letters, let them experience them in their own way for a period of time. You will learn valuable information about what they already know as you watch how they interact with the materials.   Children are very curious by nature and giving them time to explore on their own will make them more agreeable when you direct the play.

Magnetic letters provide opportunity for much more than just learning letter name/sounds.  They are great for visual, auditory and tactile skills.     Help your child with visual discrimination by having them find letters that look the same.   As your child manipulates the letters, they are working on fine motor and tactile skills and as they hear the letter names and sound the letter makes, they are working on auditory skills. Math skills can also come into play as your child sorts letters according to color, shape and size and counts them.

Don’t forget to follow your child’s lead.  Learning letters should be fun for little ones and is a process that involves exposure in many different ways in many different settings.

All this ABC talk reminds me of a funny story.  At the beginning of the school year, we screen children to see how many letters/sounds they know (first grade).  One year I was working with a wonderfully peppy outgoing little girl, and as I pointed to the letter “L” she replied “lemino”.   L,M,N,and O all blended into one beautiful letter in her world of ABC.   Aren’t kids great?  Enjoy!

Helping Grow A Reader


One of my greatest joys in teaching first grade was teaching children how to read. There are many things you can do to help your child become a great reader before they begin a formal reading program.

  1.  Tell your child they are a “reader”, even if they aren’t able to read words yet.  Seeing themselves as a “reader” will help them have confidence and patience as they are on their journey to becoming an independent reader.
  2. They are a “reader” because they can “read” the pictures to tell the story.   Reading the pictures is an early reading skill.  It will help your child notice details on the page, and strengthen vocabulary and comprehension skills . So look for books with great pictures that tell the story!
  3. As you read a story, have your child predict what will happen next.  This is an important skill in developing good comprehension.  They are using prior knowledge and critical thinking skills as they predict.
  4. Help your child to make connections between what they are reading and their own world.  This skill also strengthens comprehension and makes reading personal and relevant.

As always, have fun when reading with your child.

Next:  FUN with ABC



One of the fondest memories I have from when my children were little is snuggling with them as we read books together.  AND one of the best ways you can help your child learn is by reading to them.

Let’s look at some of the magic that happens when you read to a baby:


Hold them close and feel the connection. Help them associate reading with a loving experience.

AS you read, your baby is  hearing how words are pronounced (articulation) and beginning to associate words with meaning.  You are helping to build your child’s vocabulary – a crucial skill for learning to read.


Soft books and board books are wonderful for babies.  They can touch  and interact with them on their own.   These will get messy as babies learn through touch and putting things into their mouths – so make sure they are baby friendly!

Begin building a library that is out of reach until your child is older and knows how to handle books with care.   Look for books with large print – few words and great colorful pictures.  Books that label pictures are great for associating words with objects and rhyming books are great fun for rhythm of language.  Rhyming is an essential skill when learning to read.  Nursery rhymes, poetry and children’s classics are great ideas to build your child’s library.  BUT don’t wait to read these until they are older… long as your child shows an interest – engage them with these books as well.

Don’t forget your local library.  They have wonderful story time programs beginning at an early age.  AND of course what better for your home library than rotating books from your local  library on a regular basis.  Best of all…..IT’S FREE!!

READING time with babies will be short and sweet – but do it often and do it with love.  By engaging in this simple loving activity you are forging a path to helping your child be a great reader and a lifelong learner.

If you have any questions, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.

Have fun with your child!  Reading is the magic that opens up the world to them.


Next post:  Let’s Talk!


parent.reading2When I was teaching first grade, one of the most important question parents asked me was how they could help their child succeed as a learner.  My answer was often met with silence and a request for more…..but I held fast to my response.  Simple, direct, and to the point.

Read to them every day.

Too simple? Not really.  Here is what happens when you read to your child:

  1.  They are learning language
  2. They are learning how books work – left to right, top to bottom, front to back
  3. They are learning concepts in science, math, social studies
  4. They are learning that reading can open up new worlds
  5. They are learning that you VALUE reading
  6. MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL:  They are learning that you value time spent with them

By reading to your child from a very young age – you are setting the stage for a lifelong love of reading – and learning.

And there are many other complex things that are taking place as you read to your child – depending on their age which I will touch on in later postings.  But for now – let’s just simply say that reading to your child every day (from when they are in the womb) is an easy, cheap, lovely way to spend some time with your little one as you enrich and nurture their love of reading.  So grab a good book, put your feet up, pull a little one or not so little one (reading together should be a long term activity…not just until your child enters school)  into your lap….and have fun!

Next post: Books and your baby