Children want to learn. Their whole reality is a constant discovery of a new world for them. During this whole process, books, letters, and words play a fundamental role, as they will attract all their attention. Although reading comprehension still takes time to appear, family reading can be a wonderful tool to work on it.
You have probably seen young children in front of a book making up stories, because they do not yet know how to read. At these moments, they interpret the drawings and imagine fabulous universes, without limits, far beyond their creative capacity.
However, during this initial development, the child will gradually learn to read, that is, to interpret the symbols which are the letters and which, together, produce words that have a clear meaning for it.
When the child already knows how to read, another process that not all parents take into consideration begins: reading comprehension. What is the role of the family at this stage? As we shall see below, the family plays a fundamental role.
Children’s reading comprehension in the family environment
Research by authors such as Stevenson and Rasinski shows that the inclusion of parents in improving children’s reading fluency during the early stages of learning to read is justified and should be supported.
Rasinski and Stevenson studied the effects of parental involvement in a reading comprehension development project in which they involved family members of first graders during a primary education course. In these analyses, they studied the progress of children with various abilities in reading levels. In addition, they were all randomly assigned between experimental and control groups.
Parents with children in the control group performed supportive tasks. They were instructed by the schools to carry out, among other tasks, occasional but not systematic reading with the children. In turn, children in the experimental group received training from their parents to improve their reading comprehension, using materials expressly recommended by the researchers and devoting 15 minutes a day to the task.
The importance of reading in the family
According to the cited study, the children who received specific help from their parents during the period of the experiment obtained positive results twice as high as those of the children who did not receive this help. The children who were helped by their parents showed greater ability in word recognition, a task they also did more quickly. They also showed better understanding and fluency in their reading.
Furthermore, it should be noted that the children who participated in the research showed great enthusiasm for the experience, feeling significant pleasure. In fact, they claimed to have learned to read better, to understand more difficult words more easily, and to learn with each new reading.
How the family can collaborate
We have already proven the importance of the family in collaborating to improve children’s reading comprehension. So, what can we do? Let us see a possible action proposal.
- The teacher will create communication formulas with the family by means of informative notes, personal contact and periodic meetings which serve to improve the reading work at home.
- Parents do not usually have much free time. It is, therefore, necessary that the work in favour of reading comprehension be limited to around 10 or 15 minutes a day, but on a constant basis.
- As they are not teachers, parents will receive training and watch several demonstrations to establish their children’s reading comprehension development programme.
- Parents will be given specific materials to work on reading comprehension. This will be the case with poems, song books, riddles… all with the appropriate material. The improvement will be progressive and constant.
- It is interesting to carry out shared reading tasks that are simple, pleasant and short, to generate interest in children.
- The teacher should prepare record sheets so that parents and educators know the evolution of the work done.
Now we know that the relationship between family and children’s reading comprehension is very important. So it is up to us, as parents and carers of our children, to work in the right direction to promote the optimum development of the little ones.