How Can I Help My Second Grader Improve Reading?

By Kristen James

Reading is a skill that helps children do better in every subject and in life. In second grade, most students have learned to sound out and recognize words and are working on comprehension as they read chapter books. If your second-grader is feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, some extra attention will go a long way in helping him read better.

Read to Your Child

This advice still works even after your child can read on her own. As your child listens to you read stories beyond her reading level, she recognizes new words and ideas and learns meanings. Have her read a page and reward her by reading the next one or several pages. Help her sound out words and give clues when she has trouble with a sentence, such as "Does that make sense? Or did we read it wrong?"

Many schools offer one-on-one reading programs such as Smart, where a child meets with an adult each week for reading. Her reading will improve dramatically with more exposure to books and other written materials. Special attention also gives her confidence and a desire to learn.

Teach Fluency

If a child spends 10 minutes reading a sentence, he won't understand the meaning even after he figures out each word. Before focusing on comprehension, use repetition to teach your child how to read fluently. Have your child read the same page several times, working to read it faster each time. Remember to reward and encourage him for his efforts and for improvement. Repetition also builds his confidence as he improves his reading skills. You can easily teach fluency by reading street signs and billboards together. Once a child realizes he can read signs, magazine covers and posters, he'll be looking for words to read.

Emphasize Comprehension

The goal of reading is to comprehend the message. As your child's fluency improves, she will naturally begin to understand the content better. When she has trouble with a sentence, now she can look for clues and see which word makes sense. This helps her understand the sentence and become a better reader. Ask her to summarize the story, discuss different endings and talk about why characters did what they did. Find books on subjects she loves, such as sharks or tigers, science or pioneer stories. By the end of second grade, she should be able to understand long stories and retell them.

If your second grader isn't comprehending stories or you're concerned, talk to her teacher about extra reading time and help at school.

About the Author

Kristen James began writing at an early age in 1992 and was soon submitting novels to publishers. Now she has three published novels including "The River People," owns Bravado Publishing and is a staff editor for "Kype Magazine." Her articles appear on eHow, Happy News and Big Whiskey Journal. James graduated from Umpqua Community College and studied creative writing at Southern Oregon University.