Back-to-School Reading Success: A Guide for Parents

Get ready to jump into the excitement of the back-to-school season! The time has come for brand-new backpacks, pencils that are just waiting to hit the paper, and of course, the amazing teachers who will guide your child's learning journey. 

Whether your child is starting their first formal schooling, or they’ve been at it a few years, the transition back to school can be tough. As a parent, you may be concerned about the summer slide and whether your child is academically prepared, while your kiddo may be more concerned about their new classmates and teacher. Whatever is front of mind for each of you, some intentional time spent with back-to-school reading activities or back-to-school read aloud books will both calm your nerves and prepare your minds for the new year. This new year is a new opportunity to grow and learn in countless ways, and being prepared as possible is key!

Research shows that children who are proficient readers by third grade are more likely to succeed academically and graduate on time.1

Sharpen Reading’s Back-to-School Reading Success Guide

In this guide, we will delve into the key elements to foster confident & successful readers, warning signs to look out for, and the tools you need to step in when necessary to transition into the new school year smoothly. 

Is Your Child on the Right Track for the New School Year?

Monitoring and tracking reading progress is a crucial step in understanding how well your child is prepared for the new year ahead. You can really get a feel for your child's strengths and weaknesses this way. Here are a couple of ways to help ensure your child is on track: 

Observing reading behaviors:
Parents know their children best and can often identify strengths and weaknesses in their reading skills. Maybe they can read for hours on end, or perhaps they struggle with comprehension. Paying close attention to these details will help you identify areas where they may need extra support

Teacher communication and collaboration:
Early discussions around your child’s strengths and weaknesses in reading and regular check-ins with your child's teacher can provide valuable insights into their reading progress and highlight any areas of concern. Ask for any year-end reports from the previously completed year and make sure to discuss beginning-of-year assessments from your child’s teacher. Keep an eye out for any dips in performance or issues that persist despite interventions.

Parental Strategies for Supporting Reading Success

Instilling a love for reading in your child while also preparing them for the new school year is both valuable and challenging.  So where do you begin? In this section, we will explore various parental strategies for supporting reading success, that can truly make a difference in building a strong intrinsic motivation and love of reading to more easily transition out of summer and into the classroom. 

Establish a reading routine:
Before summer is over and as you begin the new school year create a dedicated reading time and space in your home. This can guide a child to cherish quiet and space within their day, improving how they perceive reading time. This routine provides structure and signals to your child that reading is an important part of their daily activities. Pick up a few back-to-school read-alouds from your local library or bookstore to gently prepare them for the upcoming school year beginning.

Encourage their interests:
One of the best ways to motivate your child to read is to help them find books they are interested in. Choosing age-appropriate and engaging books that align with their interests can increase their enthusiasm for reading. This parent/child engagement can easily be achieved by identifying interest areas through book titles or covers, and by looking through a couple of books to pick the most interesting. The bonus is that this tactic can extend into training the behaviors most likely to increase engagement at school (i.e., tell your child to find things they are interested in when the teacher says it is time to read!).

Reading aloud and reflection:
In addition, reading aloud and discussing stories together can enhance comprehension skills and deepen your child's understanding of the text. It also provides an opportunity for you to model good reading habits and strategies. Most importantly this strategy helps you monitor your child’s reading level and can better help guide you in matching reading materials with skills.

Seeking Additional Resources and Support

All children learn at different rates, and sometimes a child may simply need more time to grasp certain reading skills to read at grade level. However, if you notice that your child is consistently struggling with reading it may be time to look for additional guidance and support. There are many resources available to support your child's reading development. 

Digital platforms:
Digital platforms that focus on reading skill development can offer interactive and engaging ways to practice reading and build competency, allowing children to recognize their own skills that allow them to approach school confidently and associate reading with a sense of accomplishment. Online literacy programs like Sharpen Reading or tutoring services can provide guided instruction tailored to your child's individual needs.

Specialized guidance:
If you believe your child is struggling in the new school year, trust your instincts as a parent, and don't hesitate to seek help if you're concerned: a reading assessment could help offer further guidance. There are numerous resources available, through tutoring services, and reading specialists that can provide targeted instruction tailored to your child's needs. The Sharpen Early Advantage Assessment is a great first step in identifying if your child may need additional support.

Expert evaluation:
Evaluations, conducted by reading specialists or educational psychologists, can identify any underlying learning issues and suggest appropriate interventions. These evaluations provide detailed insights into your child's reading abilities, highlighting specific areas that need improvement.

Fostering back-to-school reading success involves preparing your child for the upcoming year, recognizing when intervention is necessary, and implementing effective strategies to support reading development.

As parents, your involvement in your child's reading experience is crucial. By observing their reading behavior, communicating with their teachers, and providing supportive resources, you can help your child become a confident and proficient reader.

Remember, we all start somewhere, and with practice and patience, almost all children can become successful readers. As your child embarks on their reading journey in the new school year, remember to stay positive, encouraging, and supportive. Your belief in their abilities can make all the difference.

Free Sharpen Parent Guide

Download our free parent guide to learn more about how the Sharpen family of products can work to support your child’s reading journey every step of the way.

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1: Hernandez, D. J. (2011). Double jeopardy: How third grade reading skills and poverty influence high school graduation. New York, NY: The Annie E. Casey Foundation.