SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

5 Ways to Help Your Advanced Reader

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Last week I wrote about struggling young readers, and offered some strategies to help these children succeed.  But, what if your child is an above-level reader?  How do you keep an advanced reader challenged and engaged? How do you keep the momentum going?


By the end of January you should have a pretty good idea of your child’s reading level. If unsure, ask your child’s teacher. At this time of the school year, teachers often see student’s reading skills “click,” and reading really takes off.  It’s so exciting to witness! 


Here are 5 things parents can do to support and challenge above-level readers:


  • Ask your child's teacher if there is “open library” time at your child’s school library. If so, ask if your child might get books that are of high interest to him. He might love books about dinosaurs, space or sports. Going to open library would be a perfect way for him to begin “research skills,” such as using encyclopedias and the library computers. All librarians are happy to help eager young readers!


  • Make sure that your child has a public library card. Public libraries are a great, free resource and young children love to choose and borrow books. Take advantage of special events that occur for children at your local library.


  • If you have access to the Internet, or to electronic readers, appropriate level stories can be downloaded, usually at little or no charge. Some public libraries also allow you to “borrow” downloaded books. Once again, your librarian can be a great resource.


  • Don’t forget about writing skills. Reading and writing skills go hand-in-hand, but being an advanced reader doesn’t automatically make your child a good writer.  Buy a small notebook and have him keep a “Reader’s Response” journal. When he’s done reading a story, have him write the date, the book’s title, and author’s name, at the top of the notebook page. Help him summarize the story, including characters, setting and plot. It’s really fun for a child to go back and see all the books that he has completed, and read what he had to say about the stories.


  • Together, at bedtime, read higher-level books to your child. Find books that have chapters and few or no pictures. Read a chapter a night. Before starting the next chapter, have her tell you what has happened so far in the story. Then, have her predict what might happen next.


Activities like these help your child develop a lifelong love of reading. In addition, SchoolFamily.com has a variety of fun printable "All About Books" worksheets. What greater gift could you give your child than a love of reading?!


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