Summer reading tips will help students this fall

Tue, 06/26/2007 - 5:43pm
By: The Citizen

Solid reading skills are vital for success on many of the tests your child will take between Kindergarten and high school graduation - including the SAT and ACT. Students therefore need to possess a strong vocabulary and be confident in their ability to discern the meanings of many words. Here are some tips for building word power:

Read extensively.

Whether your child is enjoying the adventures of Ernest Hemingway or reading books about his or her favorite subject or hobby, viewing words in the context of a narrative builds an intuitive understanding of their meanings. Your son might simply shrug when seeing the words "gargantuan" and "gilded" on a vocabulary test, for example, but he'll probably understand the meaning right away if he's reading a passage that notes "With more than 2,200 passengers, including a dozen millionaires, on board for what was supposed to be the fastest-ever Atlantic crossing, the gargantuan Titanic was the most technologically advanced maritime vessel of the Gilded Age."

Learn how to "decode" words.

Students can make a well-educated guess about a word's meaning by recognizing certain clues. One of the most effective strategies is to understand the meanings of common prefixes and suffixes. A few examples include:

Un - which generally means "not," as in unacceptable, unusual and unaware

Re - which usually means "again," as in return, remember and reiterate

In and im - which usually refer to something being "in" or "not," as in ineligible, immutable and implausible

Inter - which commonly means between," as in interloper, or intervention

Dis - which usually means "apart," as in disassociate, dissension and disagree

Sym and syn - which refer to being together," as in symmetrical and synergy

Common suffixes - meaning letters at the end of words - will provide clues as well. When you see the letters "less" at the end of a word, the word will often mean something related to "without," as in hopeless, thoughtless and careless. "Full" refers to being "full," as in hopeful, helpful and thoughtful.

Make flashcards of new words.

Once your child learns the most common prefixes, suffixes and word roots, he or she can use www.dictionary.com or a regular dictionary along with reading assignments to learn words that incorporate them. Try setting a goal ‚Ȇsuch as learning five new words a day for five days a week. Once your child finds a new word, he or she should make a flash card, with the word on one side and the definition on the other. Your son or daughter should then keep the flashcards on hand and run through them often to strengthen familiarity with the words. Setting a goal to learn five new words a day for five days a week can boost your child's vocabulary by 200 words in just two months.

Dr. Raymond J. Huntington and Eileen Huntington are co-founders of Huntington Learning Center in Peachtree City, which has helped children achieve success in school for 30 years. For more information about how Huntington can help your child, call 770-632-7335

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