It’s in all our flyers, memos, homework folders and parenting discussions. Teaching a child to read is important. Make them love reading? All the more.
Admittedly I took this notice for granted. Not because I didn’t agree, but because I didn’t know it any other way. I grew up reading and loving it. My grandfather would take me to the book fairs and buy any book I wanted. I collected so many books in my grade school years (and I still have them by the way!). My husband said I wouldn’t read books, I’d devour them.
So when the girls came along, it was the most natural thing for me to teach them to read at an early age. And it remains to be an intrinsic part of our daily (nightly) routine.
I’m no psychologist, but to me, early reading was essential in learning and developing. I was under the impression all parents thought that way too, until I started volunteering in both girls’ classrooms. Then I realized why these memos were being sent out.
Not all parents give as much importance to reading in the early years. I think they took it for granted too, except in the opposite manner. We all acknowledge reading is essential, but not many realize that teaching babies and toddlers to love reading is beneficial in so many ways in their later years. Some parenting philosophies say, what’s the rush? They’ll go to school, they’ll learn to read then, and all will be well. But a non-profit organization called Read Aloud 15 Minutes, shows that’s not the case when it comes to reading.
Maybe it’s also because of the preconceived notions that reading is boring and a chore. It takes away from the child’s natural desire to play and explore. Personally, I could never understand how reading wasn’t fun!
Fortunately for us, we’ve managed to make reading both fun and an integral part of our day. And as March is March is National Reading Awareness Month, I thought I’d keep with the theme, and the mission of the organization to get more parents to read with their kids more often. Here’s what we do with the girls:
Let them choose the book to read. This instantly gets them involved and interested. Sometimes, it’s a game. When I’m trying to teach a specific theme or topic though, I “seed” the choice in their heads earlier on in the day.
Point and pause. One of the things I learned from Your Baby Can Read was to point to the word as you say it. I’ve done it so many times that the girls have picked up on it too. Jamie underlines what she reads, or circles it.
Also, pointing gives the eyes direction. In a book filled with colorful pictures and words, it’s hard to tell what to look at first. Jamie, my visual learner is more attracted to the pictures than the words. So I give her time to scan the image, “read” into it, and then we work on reading the words for each page. It’s also a great comprehension tool, as she can describe how the story plays out (in her own words).
Repeat and repeat. Yes, you are a broken record. But I realized that when they’re younger, the first time you read the book, they’re simply absorbing everything. It’s a lot. So you read it again, and this time, they start to chime in and show they understand. The third time, they’re already picking up what the words look like as you point to it and say it out loud.
Read above their grade level, says Jamie’s school directress at a parenting talk. Doing so, opens up their comprehension skills, introduces new vocabulary and gently builds reading stamina.
Read what you love(d). The girls are always fascinated when I pick up a book and say “I read this too when I was little.” Somehow the history behind it and the memories attached to it make it more interesting than it really is. Whatever it is, they’ll read it with me nonetheless.
Read anything. To practice, I make Jamie read the street signs or building signs, and words she’s never heard of. And her role is to tell me when we see it so I know where we’re going next. We also read books in different languages.
Make the iPad a friend. I have to say: the iPad is not the enemy! We like to give the girls a little iPad time all the time, on the condition too, that they use it on reading apps like RazKids and Endless Reader, for example. RazKids is a reading program that is approved by the school community too, which is a great thing to have the current technology work towards your goal.
Read Aloud says, “A child is never too young to learn that books are fun, engaging, and something that your family values.” I couldn’t agree more.
You may have some tips of your own, and I’d love to hear them (and use them too!). How do you encourage your kids to read everyday?