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Parent Reading Helper - Tips!

(16 Posts)
GoldenPeppermintCreams Wed 03-Oct-12 11:16:06

I've just signed up to do this at my son's school. Do any experienced parent helpers or teachers want to share any tips with me? Thanks!

yani Wed 03-Oct-12 12:05:29

No advice, but bumping for you as I am interested in doing this too.

Sinkingfeeling Wed 03-Oct-12 12:42:16

I helped with reading for 3 years - the teacher will obviously guide you as to how they'd like you to help, but I used to go in for about 2 hours and be given a list of children to read with 1:1. I'd read and make a comment in their reading diary and then read with the next child. My tip would be to listen to what the child has to say (I was often told about where their auntie was going on holiday or what the dog had dug up in the garden grin) and be interested in the child as well as in their reading. I got the impression with some of the children I read with that they loved having a small amount of 1:1 time, which is obviously in short supply in the classroom (in my case in short supply at home too).

Ask the school about the procedure for being CRB checked if you haven't already had it done. The school should be on top of this (but a couple of years ago, mine really wasn't). Don't discuss reading levels with other parents. Address any concerns to the teacher. Enjoy it - I was sad to give it up when I went back to working full time.

LettyAshton Wed 03-Oct-12 12:48:56

I did it for a while with a struggling reader.

It was rather difficult as it transpired (through what she told me) that the girl lived with her mum's ex-boyfriend and his new partner so I felt awful when I had been saying "Oh, you can read this to your mum tonight" etc to try to encourage her. It got worse when she started asking me if I'd give her money if she could read this bit or that bit. I think she was quite a troubled girl and I had no warning, let alone any training, about how best to deal with it.

That said, most kids are easier than that one and as sinkingfeeling says, many enjoy a bit of chit chat with another adult.

Itsjustafleshwound Wed 03-Oct-12 12:55:54

If you don't know what to do - just ask!

I read with children and it involves listening to them read a few pages of their book and then maybe a little discussion about what they have read - what has happened so far? Who is your favourite character? How do you think the story is going to end? Have you ever seen xxx in real life? What fact have you learnt that you didn't know before?

The teacher didn't want us to comment in the book at all - just merely write what we read with them and our initials ...

Some children are chatty, some enjoy bunking the lessons but it is a nice way of getting to know the year.

GoldenPeppermintCreams Wed 03-Oct-12 13:23:50

I'm already enhanced CRB checked through the school and through work as well.

I'm wondering if I'll be interviewed or have an informal chat with the literacy co-ordinator to make sure I can read English and am vaguely suitable grin.

I'm guessing there will be a workshop for the parents, so hopefully I'll find out all I need to know about the scheme. There was a meeting for parents when I helped out on the school trip last year, so I know they like to train us up!

LauraShigihara Wed 03-Oct-12 13:35:58

Do some schools have reading workshops? Wow.

I do quite a bit in DS's school each week. I would say, number one priority is don't discuss what happens in the classroom with other parents. I'm sure you are nice and wouldn't dream of it but you'd be surprised how many will accidently pass on information in the playground grin

Always find out who are the priority readers, the ones who should be heard most, because they need the practise. Don't spend too long on each child - most of them love to chat and they will often string it out a bit rather than go back to lessons. The teacher will be pleased if you can rack up quite a few.

If you are expected to write a comment, keep it neutral and kind, along the 'lovely reading' or 'very fluent' lines. DS once came back with a 'reads too fast and gabbles' comment from a parent-helper and I was most indignant!

It is very good fun and a really nice way of getting to know them all. You can tell I enjoy it.

GoldenPeppermintCreams Wed 03-Oct-12 13:47:16

Sorry should have made that clearer! My son's school does have phonic workshops for parents to explain how they teach reading, to the parents. They also had a briefer version of it at one of the induction meetings.

So I'm hoping there will be an even more in depth version for parent reading helpers. It's a 4 form entry school so I guess it's very efficient to get all the parents in the hall to teach us.

LettyAshton Wed 03-Oct-12 14:27:23

Oh, yes, I second the comment about writing negative comments in the reading record. I must admit I was a bit put out when I saw a mum had written something less than glowing in ds's book - and had made a spelling mistake into the bargain!

expansivegirth Wed 03-Oct-12 15:03:56

be encouraging. it's amazing how much kids bloom with encouragement. and heartbreaking to think some maybe aren't getting as much as they should at home. report any problems or questions back to the teacher. i always spend longer on the ones who I know don't get much reading at home. with the good readers we read, have a quick chat about it, and I send them home confident that their parents will read with them anyway, and knowing that as a result of reading with me they'll have a new book in the book bag.

the one MAJOR tip is be consistent, always turn up when you say you will, and don't think you can pop in and out or treat it is an optional weekly 'volunteer' extra. i know that the reception class teacher last year really valued the fact that I was always there when I said I would be and she could factor in my presence each week.

feetheart Wed 03-Oct-12 15:07:23

I've been doing it for over a year now and love it. We usually get the same children each week so you can build up a relationship with them over time which makes it a lovely 2-way thing - I learnt the Polish for spider and beetle yesterday smile

Sabriel Wed 03-Oct-12 16:31:46

Can I third the no negative comments. Twice now I've had to contact school about negative comments in DD's reading record and both times it has turned out to be parent helpers, who at our school are not allowed to comment.

I've actually got to the point that after the latest one- last week - that said "read, but needs to improve" I'm seriously considering asking the teacher not to let my DD read to volunteers. I'm conscious she is behind her peers and we are waiting for a dx. I can't bear the thought of other parents whose children are getting on OK looking down their noses at her.

chocolateshoes Wed 03-Oct-12 16:47:03

I second all the previous comments. I listen to yrs3-6. The teachers asked me to check that the pupil has actually understood what they are reading so ask them some questions about what has happened, what somebody thought etc, and also pick out particular words and see if they know what they mean as well as how to read them.

Fuzzymum1 Wed 03-Oct-12 19:34:54

I read with various children in school. I did training in the better reading partnership which is designed to boost children who are either struggling or falling behind for some reason. The one thing that came out of it over everything else is targeted praise. I try and say things like "I liked the way you went back and tried that word again" or "you sounded and blended that word really well" rather than just saying things like "good boy" or "well done". I totally agree with keeping comments (if any) positive. The children I read with on the scheme are a bit different as that is a regular three times a week session with the same two children - I sometimes write things like "X was a little distracted today but read really well when he concentrated" so still positive on the whole, but I also read with year one and limit my comments to either "read with parent helper" or "X sounded and blended well" or similar. I would suggest you speak with the teacher/co-ordinator about how they want you to do it and stick to what you are told. I love reading with the kids - I was a parent governor for 12 years and feel like I'm making much more of a difference doing this than I did as a governor.

KitKatGirl1 Wed 03-Oct-12 20:08:59

yy to the 'targeted praise' (especially if a child is starting to improve in an area they've previously been struggling with, eg expression)

yy to no gossiping.

yy to checking with teacher what they do and and don't want you to write. Eg at ds's school it would be neutral/positive comments in the child's record but encouraged to put specific comments in the teacher's record folder, eg. can blend/can self-correct/good comprehension/good expression etc etc.

yy to turning up every week.

Enjoy! You will (often, but not always) be listening to children who don't have as much support at home as your own so they really flourish with the attention. Or, if it's a child who is well supported at home but still struggling to pick it up, they seem to find it less stressful than reading to a parent or teacher so you will be giving them a positive experience too.

Ferguson Wed 03-Oct-12 20:29:33

Hi -

I started as a parent helper (father) hearing readers in Yr 1 and Yr 2; did it for five years, and also expanded to supporting Yr6 in gardening activities, and ran an after-school keyboard club with Yr6.

Being out of work at the time, I became a TA at another school, and remained there for ten years.

It can certainly be very satisfying, seeing the children progress, and the volunteer is in the fortunate position of being able to devote more time to children who need it most. Also if you have any special skills / experiences, they can sometimes be useful in school.

I include below some of a PM I sent to another prospective volunteer recently :


Further to my earlier posts on the 'thread', as a voluntary helper I think one is in a special situation in a school, and can 'see things' / 'support children' in ways that Teachers and even TAs cannot easily do, mainly through lack of time.

You have the satisfaction of helping children, without the burden of planning/recording etc.

My most pleasing work with a child was with a Yr 1 Downs boy, during a term of voluntary work between two employments. He had a full-time helper, as he was incontinent, could not talk but was learning sign language. He adored the computer but could only watch other children using it as his motor skills did not allow him to use either the mouse or keyboard himself. This upset me, so I found a website for disabled people that only needed the SPACE BAR to be pressed to use it. This was something he could manage, and it served as a 'switch' to launch rockets, jump broken bridges, create patterns etc. The look on his little face when, for the first time in his life, he could watch the 'countdown' and press the space bar to launch the rocket at the correct moment, was immensely satisfying for both of us! That seemed to stimulate his brain, and before long he was provided with a small mouse and a special keyboard so that he could start to use the computer in a more conventional manner.


So Yes ! Go for it, Enjoy! and Good Luck.

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