Start Young and Stay with it. At just a few months of age, an infant can look at pictures, listen to your voice, and point to objects on cardboard pages. Guide your child by pointing to the pictures, and say the names of the various objects. By drawing attention to pictures and associating the words with both pictures and the real-world objects, your child will learn the importance of language.
Children learn to love the sound of language before they even notice the existence of printed words on a page. Reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word. When the rhythm and melody of language become a part of a child’s life, learning to read will be as natural as learning to walk and talk.
Even after children lean to read by themselves, it’s still important for you to read aloud together. By reading stories that are on their interest level, but beyond their reading level, you can stretch young readers’ understanding and motivate them to
improve their skills.
Advertise the joy of reading!
Our goal is to motivate children to want to read so they will practice reading independently and, thus, become fluent readers. That happens when children enjoy reading. We parents can do for reading what fast food chains do for hamburgers… ADVERTISE! And we advertise by reading great stories and poems to children. We can help our children find the tools they need to succeed in life. Having access to information through the printed word is an absolute necessity. Knowledge is power, and books are full of it. But reading is more than just a practical tool. Through books we can enrich our minds; we can also relax and enjoy some precious
With your help, your children can begin a lifelong relationship with the printed word, so they grow into adults who read easily and frequently whether for business, knowledge, or pleasure.
REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE VERY YOUNG
Between the ages of 4 and 7, many children begin to recognize words on a page. In our society this may begin with recognition of a logo for a fast food chain or the brand name of a favorite cereal. But, before long, that special moment when a child holds a book and starts to decode the mystery of written words is likely to occur.
You can help remove part of the mystery without worrying about a lot of theory. Just read the stories and poems and let them work their wonders. There is no better way to prepare your child for that moment when reading starts to “click,” even if it’s years down the road. It will help, however, if we open our eyes to some things adult readers tend to take for granted. It’s easier to be patient when we remember how much children do not know. Here are a few concepts we adults know so well we forget sometimes we ever learned them.
* There’s a difference between words and pictures. Point to the print as you read aloud.
* Words on a page have meaning, and that is what we learn to read.
* Words go across the page from left to right. Follow with your finger as you read.
* Words on a page are made up of letters and are separated by a space.
* Each letter has at least two forms: one for capital letters and one for small letters.
Imagine how you would feel if you were trying to interpret a book full of hieroglyphic symbols. That’s how young readers feel. But, a little patience (maybe by turning it into a puzzle you can solve together) is certain to build confidence.
Home is where the heart is:
It’s no secret that activities at home are an important
supplement to the classroom, but there’s more to it than that. There are things that parents can give children at home that the classrooms cannot give.
Children who are read to grow to love books. Over the years, these children will have good memories to treasure. They remember stories that made them laugh and stories that made them cry. They remember sharing these times with someone they love, and they anticipate with joy the time when they will be able to read for
By reading aloud together, by being examples, and by doing other activities, parents are in a unique position to help children enjoy reading and see the value of it.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW
It is important to keep fun in your parent-child reading and to let joy set the tone and pace. Here is a story to keep in mind. Shamu is a performing whale, to the delight of many. However, she sometimes gets distracted and refuses to do her tricks. When that happens, her trainers stand around in dripping wetsuits and wait for her stubbornness to pass. They know that when a 5,000- pound whale decides she doesn’t want to flip her tail on cue, there is very little anyone can do about it.
But whales like to play, and sooner or later Shamu returns to the game of performing for her audience. Shamu’s trainers know this so they’re always patient, they’re always confident, and they always make performing fun. While helping your child become a reader is certainly different from training a whale, the same qualities of patience, confidence, and playfulness in your approach will get results. If, from time to time, your child gets distracted and loses interest, take a break. Children love to learn. Give them a little breathing room, and their interest will always be renewed.
It’s part of life:
Although the life of a parent is often hectic, you should try to read with your child at least once a day at a regularly scheduled time. But don’t be discouraged if you skip a day or don’t always keep to your schedule. Just read to your child as often as you possibly can. If you have more than one child, try to spend some time reading alone with each child, especially if they’re more than 2 years apart. However, it’s also fine to read to children at different stages and ages at the same time.
Most children enjoy listening to many types of stories. When stories are complex, children can still get the idea and can be encouraged to ask questions. When stories are easy or familiar, youngsters enjoy these “old friends” and may even help in the reading. Taking the time to read with your children on a regular basis sends an important message: Reading is worthwhile!
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