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Sequoia parents take time to read to their kids
Janiday Hernandez reads to her sons, Jesus and Derrick, during Thursdays Sequoia School Family Reading night. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Kevin Baugus is accustomed to reading to his youngster.

At this point, he has Mia, a second-grade student at Sequoia School, at a reading level at least one grade ahead.

Still, Baugus found time to attend the second-ever “Reading Together” at the school on Thursday.

“We all have everyday lives and busy schedules,” he said. “But this is important – it’ll pay off in the end.”

The “Reading Together” program was made possible by first-grade teacher Twyla Engel and reading coach Sandra Cornish.

They were pleased about the strong number of parent participation. “We had strong participation last year but even more this time around,” said Cornish.

The program provided the how-to tools and reading foundation for parents of kindergarten- to third- grade students.

 “This is the same reading program at school. We’re trying to bridge what students learn here and bring it to their homes,” Cornish said.

In this case, the parents were taught to read aloud to their youngster while discussing the material. The goal for the latter is intended to develop better vocabulary skills, Engel said.

“Kindergarten is a good time to start with the reading,” she added.

Parents were given the instruction on reading side-by-side with their child while sharing the book. It was important for the text to be at the proper reading level as that of the youngster.

“Let them choose the book,” Engel said. “It should be something that’s of an interest to them – let them re-read the book.”

She recommended a comfortable, well-lit area, with the parent holding the book in a manner in which the child can also see the words.

Among the books suitable for most youngsters in this age group included anything by Dr. Seuss and the series designed for shared reading “You Read to Me, I Read to You,” by Mary Ann Hoberman and “We Both Read” published by Treasure Bay.

 “Always praise your child’s effort and be positive,” said Engel. “Don’t let reading be a chore.”

The parents learned about choral reading, echo reading, and shared or paired reading.

Choral reading is when the two read aloud the same text at the same time. The parent, in this case, would read louder and slightly faster at first, slowing down the cadence while doing so in a quieter manner once the child gains confidence.

Reading with expression and showing attention to the phasing and punctuation was another part of choral reading.

In echo reading, the grownup and child take turn reading the text aloud.

“Take turns reading the same text,” said Engel, who had a near roomful of parents.

She added, “Make reading sound like talking, and read (the text) to them in chunks and phases.”

Her example for shared reading included the parent and youngster taking turns reading aloud in a “You read to me, I read to you” manner, according to Engel.

She also addressed the grownups, saying, “I know that some of you have older children who help out the younger ones with homework, but this is a real opportunity for you as parents to read to your child.”