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How parents can use 'Concepts of Print' at home

September 14, 2000

How parents can use 'Concepts of Print' at home

Teaching your child | By Lisa Tedrick Prejean

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

Reading to your childWill your child be a good reader?

If you read to him, he probably will.

That's not news to most of us. We've heard about the importance of parents reading to children.

But how do you make the leap from reading to your child to him reading independently?

Enter "Concepts of Print," a set of guidelines for parents and teachers to help children learn to read.

Here's how it works: While reading to a child, an adult introduces a new concept, such as, "We read from left to right," "This is the front of the book," or "There's a space between each word."

We shouldn't assume children know the basics, says Judy Fox, a first-grade teacher at Old Forge Elementary School, east of Hagerstown.

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If they don't have to make these discoveries on their own, they're better able to make the transition to independent reading, Fox says.

"The child has a head start rather than an 'aha' experience," Fox says.

Fox makes these suggestions:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> When your child shows interest in books and reading, introduce "Concepts of Print," keeping the sessions informal.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Make a connection between the pictures and words on each page. Ask your child what he sees in the picture and what he thinks the words say about the picture.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Don't be afraid to touch the words as you read. A child needs to learn the connection between spoken and written words. Give the child his own "pointer" - a popsicle stick with a sticker on it or a pencil with a funky eraser - so he can point to words as you read them.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Work with your child on sounds. Ask questions like, "What do you suppose 'bird' starts with?"

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Try a word detective game. Say a word and see if your child can find it on the page. Give him a clue: "I think I hear a 't' at the beginning of it."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Be playful.

Fox sometimes teases her students by reading from right to left. Then she says, "Oh, that didn't make sense, did it?

"You're keeping it light and playful, beating them at their own game of play," she says.

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