Parent Strategies for Improving Their Child’s Reading and Writing

Today, perhaps more than ever, parents play an important role in their child’s education. Gone are the days when it was solely the school’s job to educate. Parents are an active part of the teaching and learning process, which can be challenging combined with all the other tasks of providing for a family.

The following ideas are intended to help increase your child’s understanding of reading and writing skills and to develop confidence in learning, while providing parents with a general framework for how to get this all done. Choose two or three of the following strategies and use them throughout the year.

General Reading and Writing Improvement Strategies:

  • Parent Strategies for Improving Their Child’s Reading and Writing - TLG-IMG-11272018Read to your child
  • Model good habits by reading in front of your child
  • Check your child’s assignment list daily
  • Provide a consistent time to study each day without distractions or media
  • Visit the public library frequently
  • Join public library summer reading programs
  • Provide opportunities for your child to attend theater performances
  • Use reading software or online games or apps, if available
  • Provide activities that relate reading and writing to daily life
    • Have your child write the menu for dinner
    • Have your child locate letters and words on food containers
    • Have your child help write a shopping list and have them check off the items on the list as you shop
    • When traveling, write words in a grid and have your child color in the boxes as they see the words on signs

Vocabulary Development:

  • Notice street and store signs together and talk about what they say and mean
  • Build vocabulary by having conversations with your child regularly
    • Talk about the people you see and the types of jobs they have
    • Talk about the colors and shapes of things you see
    • Sing songs you both know
    • Talk about the places you’re going and what you see along the way
    • Ask your child specific things about their day
  • Open-ended topics are especially good for building vocabulary. Have your child answer questions like:
    • When I grow up I want to be…
    • My family…
    • The only thing I could think of was…
    • One night I woke up so scared that…
    • I am happiest when…
    • When I feel angry I…
    • A trip I’d like to make is…
    • On the weekend I would like to…
    • My favorite television show….
  • Provide word search or crossword puzzles
  • Play word games (such as Scattergories®) to help develop word choice and categorizing skills
  • Read a challenging book aloud to your child to give exposure to higher level words
  • Label objects around the house with sticky notes
  • Describe objects using a simile or metaphor (e.g., the car is as red as an apple, or the clouds are like cotton balls)

Word Study:

  • Play word games
    • Practice word play with your child by saying words and having them say a rhyming word
    • Practice synonyms and antonyms by saying a word and having your child say a word that means the same or the opposite
    • Play games such as, “I’m thinking of a word. Who can guess a letter in it?”
    • Say one letter of the alphabet and have your child name the next three letters in order
    • Say a letter and have your child name the letter that comes just before that letter
    • Locate pictures in magazines and practice identifying the beginning and ending sounds of each picture
    • Play word games such as Hangman® or Scrabble®
  • Have your child look in old magazines and cut out pictures of people, places, and things (nouns), and then have them categorize the pictures any way they want
  • Say a letter and then have your child name an animal or food that begins with that letter (or, to further challenge the child, try having them name an animal or food that ends with that letter)
  • Name an animal, object, or country. Have your child use the last letter of that word and think of a word in the same category that begins with that letter, then take turns with subsequent words
  • Circle words in a newspaper or magazine that start with the same letter or are in the same word family (e.g., words ending with –ing or –unk)
  • Practice writing spelling words in shaving cream or pudding smeared on a plate
  • Color the consonants blue and vowels red
  • Have your child post their weekly spelling words on a sticky note and put it on the bathroom mirror

Tweet: Parent Strategies for Improving Their Child’s Reading and Writing #edchat #education #ParentStrategiesReading Comprehension:

  • Read a story or have your child read
    • Have your child pick their favorite part
    • Ask your child to think of alternative solutions to a problem
    • Have your child predict what will happen next
    • Ask your child to change the ending
    • Make up a sequel
  • Use audio books to follow along with text
  • Have your child make a list of things that could never happen, things that might happen, and things that are sure to happen
  • Monitor your child’s reading by:
    • Asking literal questions about the facts
    • Asking inferential questions about what they think it means
    • Asking critical questions about how they might use the information, like:
      • Why did the author choose to use this particular word?
      • How could the author have explained this better?
    • Compare and contrast movies with previously read books
    • Provide high interest literature, including magazines
    • Provide reference materials and activities that encourage your child to use reference skills
    • Read newspaper articles with your child and discuss events in the news. Discuss:
    • What is the importance of the news?
    • What might happen as a result of these events?
    • What actions might have led to different results?
    • As children become more conscious of their larger society, they might begin to think about and investigate some of the following areas:
    • Providing food for the growing population of our nation
    • Living on the moon
    • Living peacefully with other nations
    • The impact of inventions on everyday life
    • After watching a movie, have your child retell the movie from beginning to end in the correct order, and using details, describe their favorite scene
    • While you’re reading to your child or when your child is reading to you, encourage them to create their own movie in their mind; have them draw pictures of the story
    • When reading together, after each paragraph ask the child ‘wh’ questions (Who? What? Where? When? Why?) to see if they are understanding


  • Encourage your child to keep a journal (for travel, family events, or feelings)
  • Encourage letter writing, pen pals, and thank-you notes
  • Have your child write a declarative statement, interrogative question, and exclamatory sentence about a picture in a magazine. An example would be: There is a barn on the farm. What animals live in the barn? There are baby chickens hatching in the barn!
  • Have your child write a story, song, poem, or article about a family event and then read it back to an adult
  • Have your child write a conversation using correct punctuation. The conversation could be between two of their favorite TV characters, two characters in a book, or even two members of their family
  • Students who become interested in certain aspects of the news should be encouraged to write letters requesting information or commending the actions of some person in the news
  • Encourage students to write to their Congressperson. Their office staff is glad to supply information about current affairs—new bills being considered, their opinions regarding certain issues, and so on. They will often respond to letters that request information or ask questions

These parental strategies for reading and writing only scratch the surface. If you have other ideas, please share them with us on Twitter using the hashtag #ParentStrategies. We’ll be providing some parental tips that cover math in a blog to follow.


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