By Ryan Crawley for Dadspadblog – Fathers are becoming more and more active with the daily life of their children since mothers are just as busy with their careers. Both parents nowadays often have to work for the family to survive financially. Gone are the days where the mother solely handles the children and the father just provides for the family. The gender roles have been overlapping for years.

As an educator, I am just as likely to have parent conferences with fathers as I am mothers. It is actually a great thing to see. Anytime a father plays a more active role in all aspects of their children’s lives, it is a good thing. However, even the most well meaning mothers and fathers can make mistakes. Especially when it comes to preparing their child appropriately for school.


Making sure your child is a strong reader by the end of the primary grade levels is essential. The primary grade levels are kindergarten through third grade. Elementary grade levels are mostly considered fourth through fifth grade. Junior high is most often associated with sixth through eighth grade. Each of these levels will have their own academic difficulties. In fact, each of these levels will definitely have their own behavior difficulties as well. Let’s just focus on the academic priorities for primary grade levels for now.

Research-Based Strategies for Improving Literacy

As a Reading Specialist, I diagnose and treat children that are perhaps just struggling a bit with their reading skills, or suffer from true reading disabilities. Whichever the case, the strategies and activities for improving their reading level are the same. The key is to use research-based strategies. This means that these are absolutely proven to work through research completed in academic studies and journals. Plus, it is a good idea to use a combination of these different activities to attack the problem on all levels. Two of these research-based strategies are listed below.

Increased Reading Time

Here is the main item to remember when assisting your child with their reading achievement. Do not overwhelm them. Keep them out of the frustration level, otherwise you may prevent them from wanting to continue with these activities. What does it mean to be in the frustration level? It means that the child is missing more than one out of every ten words while reading. If they are reading less than 90 percent of the words correctly in a book, then it is time to find a bit easier of a story.

This is where quite a few parents make a mistake. They instead have the child try to power through the book even while missing three or four out of every ten words, thinking it will help the child in the long run. But research has shown that it does not help, it overloads their brain and prevents them from focusing on just a couple words that they can’t quite get. Instead they will become more and more frustrated because they will be missing 30 to 40 percent of the words, and in doing so, they will not be reading fluently and their reading comprehension will just not be present.

If you are a parent and have done this in the past already, do not feel guilty. Even primary teachers sometimes will make this same mistake. Having a Masters in Reading and Literacy and treating hundreds of struggling students opened up my eyes to several things. I spend a lot of my free time reading academic journals and sharing this knowledge with parents. Obviously, I am a lot of fun at parties.

Fry’s Instant Sight Words

While we were in school, the emphasis was learning sight words from the Dolch list. Fry’s Instant Sight Words is just an updated version of it created by Dr. Edward B. Fry. It is actually quite interesting when examined a bit closer.

The first 25 words on Fry’s List make up about 33 percent of all items published. It does not matter on the difficulty level of the text at all. The first 25 words will cover about one-third of all reading material. Introduce ten words on flashcards at a time so as not to overwhelm the child. Once they start flying through them correctly, go on to the next ten. However, just don’t have them practice reading the cards. Ask them to spell the words as well. Having them use the word in a sentence will also help with their writing skills.

The first 100 words of Fry’s List comprises approximately 50 percent of the words found in all publications. That means that if your child knows the first 100 words on Fry’s List, they will be able to read at least half of any text out there. The first 300 words makes up about 65 percent of all written material. Remember to have them practice spelling and writing these as well!

Posted by Fathers Incorporated

Fathers Incorporated (FI) is a national, non-profit organization working to build stronger families and communities through the promotion of Responsible Fatherhood. Established in 2004, FI has a unique seat at the national table, working with leaders in the White House, Congress, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Family Law, and the Responsible Fatherhood Movement. FI works collaboratively with organizations around the country to identify and advocate for social and legislative changes that lead to healthy father involvement with children, regardless of the father’s marital or economic status, or geographic location. From employment and incarceration issues, to child support and domestic violence, FI addresses long-standing problems to achieve long-term results for children, their families, the communities, and nation in which they live.

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