Have you ever had a new job where your boss just tossed you in even though you hadn’t quite learned how to do it yet? Chances are, you know this feeling in some capacity. I’d wager, it didn’t do much to encourage you, nor to help develop your confidence. The same can be said about children just beginning to learn how to read. Early on, it’s exciting for them, but it’s also very daunting. Without hindering them too much, we have to help remove some of the road blocks to make reading much more inviting.
Here are some tips how:
Phonics is a method of teaching people to read by correlating sounds with letters. So a word like, “Dog”, becomes “duh”-“aw”-“guh.” See, easy, right? Not always. Oddly enough, for adults or non-educators, the practice of teaching phonics is oftentimes quite difficult. Why? Because we’re no longer consciously thinking about sounding out words as we read, more less teaching someone else how to do it. Simply put, we’re on autopilot! Sure, we can sound out words, but teaching the sounds that each letter makes in various situations the correct way may be a bit more demanding. Good news, though. There are countless resources available on the internet to assist with this. Education.com for starters.
The saying, “Do as I say, not as I do,” doesn’t go well with this one. Your child shouldn’t just hear you preaching about reading, they should SEE you reading. To them and to yourself.
To make this easier, I’d highly recommend having a mountain of books piled to your ceiling! But, since I have to be practical, at least consider having a bookshelf for them. Think of it as a small library they can call their very own. Attaining the books doesn’t have to be expensive either. You can get an armful of books at your local thrift store for a decent price. Maybe there’s even a book fair coming up. Google it! Here in Missouri, we have the wonderful Greater St. Louis Book Fair where most books are $1. Before you go on the hunt, though, be sure to check out our growing list of recommended children’s books.
Children need to become familiarized with reading, and practice truly does make perfect. In a sense, making reading a regular activity goes together with promoting reading, and it’s easier than you may think. For younger children, a simple story or two at both nap time and bedtime can go a long way. And once kids get older and begin choosing all manner of other things over reading, I found it best to take the reins. In my article, The Importance of Raising a Child Who Reads, I spoke about how reading for X amount of time a day was mandatory in my household. I stand by that. Give it a try.
But, whereas it may seem I “laid down the law,” I’m a big fan of making reading fun, and I do let my children pick their own books. If your child is younger, this is key to holding their attention. If they are older, you may be able to manipulate them into reading a To Kill a Mockingbird, but chances are they’re going to want to read The Hunger Games or whatever the new “It” book is. Either way, if you make reading fun, and make it a routine, your children will quickly fall in line at an early age.
Early on, children will value reading more if they feel they’re getting genuine quality time with you. At first, watching and listening to your voice will help them pick up on the intricacies of reading a lot quicker. But when the book is done, ask them questions. Did they like the book? Why or why not? Simple things at first to both involve them and to check to see if they were listening and comprehending. Once they start reading to themselves, eavesdrop a bit. Listen to see if there are any issues you can aid them with. Then you can still ask questions to gauge their comprehension, just don’t make it feel like something they can fail at. The goal is to secretly evaluate their reading proficiency while having a conversation and showing them you care.
So, you see, there are very easy, and very practical ways to help raise readers. It does take persistence and dedication, but the pay off of raising an intelligent child outweighs whatever effort it takes ten-fold.