Reading Specialists – Helping kids learn (and love) to read

by On June 11, 2013 in Childrens Books, General, Reading


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Supporting reading in schools

Supporting reading in schools

When it comes to kids and reading, San Francisco Bay Area resident Bridget Weaver knows her stuff. She’s clocked 22 years in elementary education, including classroom teaching and close to a decade as a reading specialist. Currently, Bridget is a Reading Support Teacher in a K-5 school that primarily serves low-income families and English learners.

At home, Bridget  (along with her husband, an adult literacy specialist) is happily inspiring five-year old twin daughters to love reading as well. Here, she shares some of her insights with Bookboard about supporting and motivating children to read.

What drew you to this line of work?

As a classroom teacher, I saw the benefit of small group reading instruction and the impact it had on struggling readers.  I wanted to learn the most effective strategies for helping kids to read, so I went back to school and earned my Reading Specialist credential.

What are the most fulfilling and challenging parts of your job?

It’s fulfilling seeing students who were once struggling with reading becoming successful students. Their self-confidence really grows as they begin using strategies learned in small group, and see that they, too, can read. When I get a student who just doesn’t seem interested in reading at all, the challenge is finding the right books to hook the kid. Then the process of learning to read has more value to them.

How can parents build on the reading support you offer their kids?

It’s so important to keep reading to your kids at home, even after they have begun reading themselves. This is key because it gives them exposure to vocabulary and concepts they wouldn’t necessarily be able to access when reading on their own.  A child’s listening comprehension is often way ahead of their independent reading level.

Reading to your kids is a great parent-child bonding time, and it promotes the enjoyment of reading. However, many of the students I teach haven’t had these early reading experiences at home, in English or their home language. We have some programs in place at my school to help students and their families to develop reading habits and skills, but the response varies. Factors such as parents’ literacy and work schedules come into play.

Supporting reading at home

Supporting reading at
home

I will say that becoming a mom after many years of teaching, I now know how busy home life can be for families, and try to be more understanding of time constraints and other challenges many families face.

Speaking of, you help children with reading at work and at home with your daughters — is the process the same?

I’ve read to my preschool-aged daughters since they were newborns, and I’ve seen the positive impact on their language development, knowledge, and concepts of print – for example, knowing how to hold a book, knowing that print is read from top to bottom and left to right on a page.

I love snuggling with my kids and enjoying good books together. It’s a special time for us to be together as a family, to wind down at the end of the day, and also, a great opportunity to talk about characters, plot, illustrations, and all of the things that build a strong foundation for reading on their own.

Wrapping up, do you have any thoughts on e-books?

I don’t have much experience with e-books, but I would like to learn more. I think maintaining a balance with print books would be healthy. I’m sure e-books would appeal to a lot of kids, and you can never have enough tools to make reading interesting and fun!

 

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Diana is a sociologist, freelance writer and mom, though rarely in that order. Her writing spans topics from parenting joys and challenges to prevention education. She writes a monthly parenting blog for Yahoo and has published feature articles on adoption, family rituals and the childcare industry for parenting publications. Diana earned her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. These days find her hanging with her husband and book-loving six year old in the San Francisco Bay Area, while happily blogging and serving as a reading advocate for Bookboard.

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