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Thinking Out Loud

Helping Students Become Better Readers   

     “Turn on your brains!”  Students who struggle with reading do not realize that true reading means engaging their minds as well as their eyes.  Too many students simply “word call” and call it reading.   

     When the material or subject matter is particularly difficult for children, it’s a perfect opportunity for parents to read to them.  While reading out loud to children, it’s important to model good reading by thinking out loud as you go.  When you have a mental question for the text, stop and ask it!  Show the students the thought process you go through as a reader.  If it is necessary to look back earlier in the text for the answer to your question, then do so and let students help you.  If the question cannot be answered yet, show your child how you leave a question “hanging” in your memory and pick it up later when the answer appears.  It is important to think out loud about difficult vocabulary words.  Show children how to figure out meanings from context or use the glossary when necessary.

      Children need to hear adults “thinking” while reading.  Such modeling will make them better readers themselves, and display the skills necessary to be a discerning learner.


Teaching Kids to Solve Problems

Gradually teaching a child to be a self-sufficient person is one of a parent’s most important tasks.  Here are some suggestions to help you get started:

  • Teach brainstorming.  When there is a problem, have children come up with solutions.  Then help them choose one.
  • Encourage kids to take responsibility.  Let them know they have to do their homework.  Show them how to organize their schedules so they can plan for music lessons, field trips, and tests.  Mark important dates on their calendar.
  • Teach bargaining skills.  Show kids how to resolve arguments.  Teach them to walk away until they are calm.  Show them how to negotiate.  Flip a coin to see who goes first—then set a timer for three minutes and let them make their case.  Make sure each one listens to the other.  Create a penalty for not solving the argument, such as not watching TV today.
  • Explain how to weigh decisions.  Michele Borba, author of Don’t Give Me That Attitude, says that when a child wants you to make a decision, show him or her how to weigh the pros and cons so he or she can make his or her own decision.
  • Demonstrate how to deal with failure.  Acknowledge hurt feelings and show that failure isn’t fatal.  Teach the child sayings such as “nobody’s perfect,” “everybody makes mistakes,” and “you win some, you lose some.”
  • Teach kids to make choices based on their own reasoning rather than fear of friends’ disapproval.  Encouraging this independent thinking is important to a child’s development.

Encouraging Creativity in Children

     Teaching children creativity not only benefits them now, but also benefits them later as adults.  In fact, when faced with problems, creative adults adapt faster.  Here are a few ways to teach creativity in children:

  • Encourage children to expand their horizons and try new activities.  Have building blocks, crayons, paper, chalk, and other creative tools available.
  • Set boundaries on television and computer time.  Encourage children to play inside and outside and to spend time learning new things.
  • Teach children to have hobbies.  A great way to do this is to have a hobby yourself and show them how enjoyable it is.  Share hobbies such as knitting, painting, reading, and writing.
  • Take children to museums.  Be enthusiastic.  Talk about different items in the museum.
  • Spend time in nature.  Show children how much fun it can be to go to a zoo or a park.  Play with them.  Break down barriers such as fear of what others think.

     Teaching creativity begins at home and continues throughout a child’s life.  The best way to teach the importance of creativity is to be a mentor.  Creativity teaches children to think outside the box and helps them adapt to life’s challenges.