Workshop urges reading

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NORTH AUGUSTA - Children acknowledging the McDonald's arches or a stop sign could show the beginning habits of good reader.

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Laurie DeGraaf (left) sits with her daughter, Eme DeGraaf, 6, as Angela Kellum holds her 3-month-old son, Ethan Luca Kellum, at the parent workshop. Ginger Pope, a kindergarten teacher, said good reading habits include setting aside a special time to read with a child.  Andrew Davis Tucker/Staff
Andrew Davis Tucker/Staff
Laurie DeGraaf (left) sits with her daughter, Eme DeGraaf, 6, as Angela Kellum holds her 3-month-old son, Ethan Luca Kellum, at the parent workshop. Ginger Pope, a kindergarten teacher, said good reading habits include setting aside a special time to read with a child.

Hammond Hill Elementary teachers spent Monday evening reviewing with parents of children in kindergarten through second grade how to help a child read.

Though it might become tedious to read the same book 20 times or scream about french fries from the golden arches, educators said it shows children are comprehending the world around them and hopefully translate that into a love for learning and reading.

"Remember what's of interest to them and find a way to hook them," said Beth Graham, a science teacher.

Mrs. Graham begins her science labs by reading poems or having children write in journals so that reading becomes integrated into every subject during the day.

Throughout the hourlong parent session, Mrs. Graham and kindergarten teacher Ginger Pope explained how parents can make reading a daily habit.

"Children like to mimic us, so let them see us reading books, newspapers and magazines," Mrs. Pope said during the presentation. "Get them writing, whether it's the grocery list, letters or a Christmas list."

Parents said that getting a first-grader excited about reading after a long day at school was difficult, but Mrs. Pope said incorporating things such as pointing out street and restaurant signs will get pupils thinking without being tied to a book.

"If they can convey the meaning, they will eventually pick up the words," she said.

Other good habits include giving children down time after school and save reading as a "special" time with the parent after dinner. Always let the child pick out the book, Mrs. Pope said.

"Sometimes they don't want to read the award-winning books," she said. "You don't want to make it where it is always a battle or 'homework.'"

Bedtime reading has become a family affair for Laurie DeGraaf and her daughter Eme. The two read with the rest of the family each night, then Eme spends some time reading alone.

"Knowing statistics now days of children who can't read in middle school or high school, it is our responsibility to read to children as parents," Mrs. DeGraaf said.

Eme still enjoys reading and it just came naturally, so Mrs. DeGraaf said she doesn't struggle to pull her daughter away from the television or the computer.

All children aren't programmed to want to read every day. Penny Young said she has to remind her daughter Deyjah that there is no television for two hours after school.

"We spend that time talking one-on-one and just showing an interest in her day," she said.

During the session, Mrs. Graham demonstrated how to read a book with inflection and joy in the voice for parents. She also suggested asking questions during the reading to dig deeper into the child's mind.

"Ask questions along the way and engage students," Mrs. Graham said.

Reach Julia Sellers at (803) 648-1395, ext. 106 or julia.sellers@augustachronicle.com

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