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Zukeran Elementary School literacy teacher Jardell Peters reads a book to parents to demonstrate how they can help their children improve reading comprehension at home.
Zukeran Elementary School literacy teacher Jardell Peters reads a book to parents to demonstrate how they can help their children improve reading comprehension at home. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Text-to-self, text-to-text and text-to-world.

While each of these sounds like the latest high-tech way to stay in touch, they are actually phrases a handful of parents are learning to improve their children’s reading skills.

A small group of parents has been meeting twice a week at Zukeran Elementary School, where literacy teacher Jardell Peters has been showing them how to improve their children’s reading comprehension. The course, “Helping Your Child at Home,” is a series of 15, one-hour sessions. Peters said San Diego State University is offering one undergraduate credit hour to those who complete the course.

This is the first time this program is being offered to Zukeran parents, but Peters said the strategies are already in place in the classrooms.

Among the training topics are asking questions to aid comprehension, making connections, visualizing, and what to do if a child has difficulty with words. Parents also learn the importance of retelling stories, how to help children include important details, as well as exploring good children’s Web sites.

The most important thing, she added, is to help a child actually understand what they’re reading.

“For me, it doesn’t mean a thing if a child can read but can’t understand it,” Peters said.

At each meeting, parents start off by sharing what they noticed during nightly reading sessions with their children. The course requires the parents keep a journal on how their children used reading strategies and any difficulties they have.

Peters then goes over the day’s topic and discusses how parents can incorporate it into the nightly reading, which could be the child reading, parent reading, or child and parent reading together.

Nightly reading with children isn’t suggested; it’s mandatory. And in this course, the children sign off on records their parents keep to show that they completed their homework.

“He doesn’t feel like it’s his homework,” said Alicia Rideaux of her fifth-grade son, Blake. “He thinks of it as my homework and he’s helping me out.” She added that her son is “now experiencing books rather than just reading them.”

For Rose Llantero, helping her children — first-grader Christian and kindergartner Lauren — think about the process by predicting and visualizing has been a help.

“You can tell that they made a connection,” she said.

Peters said her goal is to help children build a “life-long love of reading and learning, to have a true love of books and immersing yourself … marinating in the words.”

Peters said she would hold another course if there is enough interest. But, she added, it’s not too late to get involved in the current training.

Call DSN 645-2576 or 2287 for more details.

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