Last time, I blogged about the importance of reading to your children. Today I’d like to address building reading habits into your children.
We all, as parents, want our children to become great readers. Sometimes it happens without our paying much attention, like the child who reads under the covers long after ‘lights out’. Sometimes it’s almost like pulling teeth getting our kids to read. I’d like to offer a few suggestions for getting them started.
For the early reader, start by reading to them and as you read, have them read along. Then the both of you decided upon one word that they will read. So that every time you get to that word it’s their turn to read it out loud.
The word could be as simple as ‘do’ and ‘the’ or as complex as ‘anything’ and ‘sometimes’. In either case make sure it is a word your child can readily recognize and easily pronounce.
Make it fun! See how many different voices your child can use when they say the word. Or have them clap or snap their fingers. Here’s a secret: the more sensory modalities (touch, taste, sound, etc.) you use when learning something new, the more deeply ingrained is the learning.
For your older reader, you might want to substitute a line, paragraph, or a page instead of a single word for their turn. Have them try reading with different accents or treat their reading as lines from a script. The key is to make it a fun and relational time!
It doesn’t matter what you read, it could be anything from cereal boxes to comic books. The point is to expose your child to the written word and help them understand what they are reading.
At the end of your fun reading time, ask questions. Ask them what their favorite part was. Ask them about the characters. Ask them which character they would like to be or what they would have done differently if they were that character. Be sure to share your thoughts and ideas with them, too.