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Moving Beyond Basic Reading Skills

HES program teaches parents how to read with a third-grader.

Class was in session Thursday night at Hillsborough Elementary School, as about 100 third-grade students brought their parents to reading class.

The school's "Reading is Thinking" program drew kids in pajamas and dads in suits together for a study of skills aimed at helping parents help their kids continue to improve reading skills.

"We found that many parents believe the understanding come with the reading skills," HES Reading Specialist Jenny Rourke, one of the orgainzers of the program, said.

But that's not necessarily so—and just as kids become proficient readers (usually around the third-grade) many parents stop regularly reading with them.

"They don't seem to see the continued importance of reading aloud to their child or with their child," Rourke said. 

Thursday's hour-long program was designed to not only give kids a better understanding of ways to increase comprehension, but also give parents ideas for helping their children practice those skills.

"We want to empower the parents with the same skills the teachers use in the classroom," HES Principal Michael Volpe said. "In the end, reading is more than just saying words."

The students and their parents studied three topics at the program: Drawing conclusions, Questioning while reading and Making connections. After a 10-minute presentation by teachers—who voluntarily provided the program on their own time—parents turned to their kids to put in practice the skills just discussed, then moved to another room for the next presentation.

This is the third time the school has organized the program for third-graders. A separate program offering "advance training" for parents of fourth-graders is also planned.

And third-grade teacher Catherine Ward said a similar workshop aimed at helping develop writing skills—called "Write On"—has been developed and may be offered before the end of the year.

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