January 22, 2011

Every Child Ready to Read: Teaching Narrative Skills

This month we have been concentrating on teaching Narrative Skills, which is the ability to describe things and events and tell stories. It is also knowing sequence--the order in which things happen. Children need Narrative Skills in order to learn to read and you can help teach them!:
*Let your child tell you about a picture he has drawn. Ask questions, such as "What's happening here?"
*Even with your baby talk about your day and the order in which things happened. Ask your baby questions and then answer for her. Ask your older child to tell you about his day. Talk about what she did first, next, and so on.
*Reading to your child in the traditional way is important, but research shows that encouraging your child to talk about the pictures and what is happening makes a significant difference in the development of her language and vocabulary skills. For 2 & 3-year-olds you might use the pictures in the book to ask questions that concentrate on naming objects--"What's this?" or to talk about the action--"What's happening here?" The adult can then add to the child's responses--"Yes, that's a truck, a big red fire truck." As your child gains more vocabulary, the questions can become more open ended, "How do you think the boy is feeling?" or ""When have you felt scared?" You might use the story and pictures to encourage your child to talk about experiences in his own life. For example, when you are sharing a book about animals, you might ask questions to encourage your child to talk about his last trip to the zoo. Ask open ended questions that encourage a longer response. Try not to ask questions that only require pointing or that can be answered with "yes" or "no." This type of reading is called Dialogic Reading and is done best one on one with your child. It's a great way to have fun with a book!
There are many good books at the library to help you teach Narrative Skills. Click here for a list of suggested books. Hennepin County Library has a great site for finding books that emphasize a particular skill. Our library has most of the suggested books. Ask your librarian for more ideas.

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