Proper punctuation may be a small part of reading, but it's still a necessary skill.
Consider the comma, said Jana Alig, director of school improvement and accountability for the Reynoldsburg school district.
Without it, "Let's eat, Grand-ma!" could be read as, "Let's eat Grandma!", something Alig pointed out with a laugh.
That's why she urges parents of elementary students to come to Reynoldsburg's new literacy workshops, designed to teach them fun ways to help extend their children's reading skills.
Alig said the workshops are not just for parents of struggling readers, but for parents of all early and independent readers in elementary grades.
"Our workshops teach fun activities to parents so that they can interact with their children and help them further develop their reading skills," she said.
All the district's elementary schools -- French Run, Herbert Mills, Rose Hill, Slate Ridge, Summit Road and Taylor Road -- partnered to design the literacy events.
This month's workshop for parents of early readers is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, at Waggoner Road Middle School, 340 Waggoner Road.
Another workshop for parents of early readers will be held at the same time and location March 13.
Workshops for parents of independent readers will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 4 and March 20 at Hannah Ashton Middle School, 1482 Jackson St.
Alig said the kick-off days of the program, Nov. 14 and Nov. 21, had a "disappointing turnout."
"We had only about 25 families come from all six schools for our younger readers and only about eight for our independent readers," she said.
Even students who are reading at or above grade level could benefit from having their parents working with them on advanced skills, Alig said.
"We call it advanced code," she said. "Kids still need to work on reading fluency, comprehension, prefixes and suffixes. There are a lot of things parents can do to help their children become the best they can be in reading.
"We did a survey of the parents that did attend the workshops and they were all positive and thanked us for providing hands-on games and fun reading activities they could do, using things like household objects," she said.
She said parents learn to turn even day-to-day activities such as a trip to the grocery store or hardware store into reading fun.
"They can sound out words together or go to Home Depot and get the paint chip color cards and put letter tags on each of them," she said. "Kids can move them in and out as they are doing the colors. We talk about a lot of different ways to make reading fun in the workshops."
The program is a response to the Ohio's new third-grade reading guarantee, which requires third-graders to be held back and not promoted to fourth grade if they fail to pass state reading tests.
"We are hoping parents will work with us to create a very strong parent-school relationship," Alig said. "We only have their children about six hours, but children need to be immersed in reading. Parents could take them to the grocery store and ask them, 'What are five things you see that start with the letter B?'
"We want reading to open up a whole new world for children," she said. "They need to see that text is all around and that reading is an important skill. Games and hands-on activities make reading fun for students."
Alig said Mia Brower, a Title One reading specialist, and Nicole Weyandt, speech language therapist at Herbert Mills, have posted videos, updates and examples of reading activities on mrsbrower.weebly.com and missweyandt.weebly.com.
If parents click on the link that says "parent literacy workshops" at the top, they will find more reading resources.
"We want to make sure parents have the materials they need and know what tests we are giving their children so that we can break down reading needs to specific skills," Alig said.
She said educational research shows that if children are not reading fluently by age 8, they will be more likely to drop out in high school.
"I hope parents will please attend the workshops and partner with us to help their children succeed in reading," she said.
Literary resources are also on the district website, reyn.org. Click on "Parents" at the top of the page, then "Early Literacy Resources" on the side banner.