Program shows parents the way; Reading: Linthicum Elementary School holds a parents night every three months to give adults exercises they can use at home with their children to help them learn to read.


Parents were the students last week in Linthicum Elementary School's Reading Tigers Program.

Teachers Dawn Dotson and Nancy Kruger began the class for parents in much the same way they work with their struggling first- and second-grade readers.

A list of reading goals for the evening began, "Tonight we will " and included blending word parts to make whole words, using fix-up strategies for reading, and dividing into two groups to read independently and learn homework strategies.

"This is all to educate the parents and to make the connection between home and school," Dotson said. "This is also a time for the children to show off to their parents what they have learned."

It also was meant to show parents exercises to do at home with their children to help them learn how to read, Dotson said.

"It's not just about helping your child sound out words," she said.

One reading strategy

The parents night -- held once every three months -- is one strategy teachers at the northern Anne Arundel County school use to help about 20 struggling readers. Those pupils also receive 1 1/2 hours of small-group tutoring and have specially designed take-home packets with reading exercises to do with their parents.

Barbara Church, the school's administrative assistant, said she hopes to expand the program to the third grade as well as a summer camp. The ultimate goal is to have 80 percent of first-grade, "at-risk" readers achieving at grade level by the third grade.

During last week's program, teachers gave a short talk to parents about how to teach their children to blend parts of words to discover an unknown word in their reading. Then, Dotson and Kruger split parents and their children into two groups.

The children in Dotson's group gathered around a table to talk about a book called "Noisy Nora," a mouse that makes a lot of noise to gain her parents' attention. Parents watched as Dotson first went through the pictures in the book with the children without reading it. She asked them to look at the pictures and predict what is going on in the story.


She asked the children questions to get them involved:

What do you think this story is about?

What is the mouse's real name?

What is the mouse trying to do?

What is the setting of the story?

The children answered, based on what they saw in the pictures.

Next, Dotson had the children take turns reading the book aloud -- the reader using a pointer to single out each word.

Dotson covered a word or two with a piece of paper and, when the children would get to it, she asked what the word could be. What word would fit there?

The children, looking at the picture or gleaning meaning from the text, caught on quickly.

"This is something that parents can do at home with any book," Church said. "Struggling readers need a lot of parental support."

At the end of the meeting, guid- ance counselor Pat McIntyre gave parents tips about handling homework headaches, such as: Keep a homework schedule the same as you would keep a schedule of after-school activities; praise and reward your child; and stay in contact with your child's teacher.

Make adjustments

"If homework time is turning out to be a terrible time and it's ruining family life," she said, "you need to tell us, and we can make some adjustments to it."

The program is popular with parents, who say they want to know how to help their children with reading.

"I think this has really helped my son," said Tina Evans, whose son Danny is a second-grader. "He is more interested in reading and is excited about his homework."

Pub Date: 1/24/99

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