As a parent, giving your child or children the best start to their development is often an important endeavour. You will want to help cultivate not only their knowledge and skills but also their curiosity and willingness to learn new things.
One of the essential skills you must start training your kids in is the ability to read. While learning to read is ongoing over many years, it is much easier to grab this skill at a younger age, similar to as if they were learning another language.
In this article, we will share with you four tips to help cultivate your child’s engagement with reading.
1. Read with your child
If your children are currently learning to read, or having trouble reading, be sure to read to them. Whatever it is you are reading – whether it is a novel, a comic, or a magazine – encourage them to be curious about not only the content, but the process of reading. Let your child or student look at the text while your read to them. Point to key words or show them how you identify it (e.g., look for letter patterns or sound it out). Ask questions about what was read, or make comments about what you are noticing, thinking, or predicting.
Just do not forget that when you read to your child, read it with enthusiasm and excitement so that they’ll be excited to hear from you. Focus on engagement. Too many questions can feel like a test. Children know when you have an “agenda” of teaching them something! Make it fun, interesting, and about bonding. If you look bored or approach reading to your child as a “job”, your child will know and lose interest. Praise and reinforce your child’s interest, engagement, and reading efforts to reduce frustration.
2. Motivate them to read daily
It is a good habit to start reading to your child from the time they are born! Create it as a daily habit – one of your family’s daily routines. Even if they have no clue what you are reading, they will still respond to your voice. Once they grow up and start reading and understanding, they will also naturally respond to the content and pictures as well as your voice. In other words, they will be drawn to reading, even if they do not realize it. Research shows that the number of books in the house and the time spent reading with parents is related to children’s grades in school.
3. Visit the library
Where can you go that gives you access to an extensive collection of books for the kids to enjoy? The library! If there is not a library near your place, a bookstore will also do just fine. An internet search of freely available books will yield a surprising number of results. Audiobooks and videos/animation of books can be engaging, but are no substitute to reading aloud (both parent and child). Search for content that is interesting to your child. There is a ton of value in both fiction and non-fiction material. interesting content will be motivating for your child or student to keep on reading at home.
The great thing about this is that once the kid interacts with other kids and finds out what they love to read as well, they might share their interests and start reading together! So, not only does your child learn to read, but they’ll also have content and material to practise social interactions.
4. Get them to read different things
Wherever you go with your child, you can always find an opportunity to have them read something – cereal boxes, menus, placards and signs at the zoo – you get the picture!
For example, you can point out road signs when driving and help your child name the letters, sound them out, and identify the words that are written on them. While this may seem simple, the human brain learns to read from repetition – every little bit counts! The brain must get practise processing the way letters look, the sounds they make, and what words mean. The brain must be able to identify letters, associate which sounds those letters make, and combine those sounds to recognize words. Just remember to coach and cue as much as needed to help your child or student so that they don’t get discouraged. And it is totally fine to “give them the answer” when you run into a tricky word – we really must address that “frustration” that can creep in early on!
Reading is an important skill for everyone and is one that is far more easily developed at a young age. Because of this, the moment your child is born and arrives at home, start reading! Even if they do not understand it, they will learn from the rhythm, intonation, and sound patterns in your voice. As they grow up, continue to cultivate that skill. Create a daily family habit. Every bit counts!
Find interesting content at the library, at school, and online. Praise, reinforce, and acknowledge your child’s efforts. Coach and cue and provide hints, clues, answers and support. Do whatever else needed to motivate your child to read and build that essential life skill. That said, the most important is to teach yourself all about how to help your child learn to read!
Is your child having trouble reading and/or spelling? If you are looking for professional assistance to help your child improve their literacy skills, get in touch with us today to see how we can help! We offer support with speech, reading, spelling and writing therapy in Calgary and online across Alberta.