How can I help my child to read?
The key to reading is not one dimensional. You will often hear educators recommend reading to your children from a very young age. While this is so important, providing an environment rich in language experience is absolutely vital if you want to ensure your child has the best possible chance of becoming a fluent reader.
Literacy is so much more than simply ‘the ability to read and write’. It covers a range of skills that enable human beings to communicate effectively, receiving and expressing oral and written language.
Why is literacy important
The higher a person’s literacy skills, the more likely they are to be able to follow directions, solve problems, comprehend the ‘workings of the world’ and in turn become clever little people who have the confidence to learn and grow in positive ways.
From the time your children are born, their little brains are developing and their neurons are firing away, creating connections and making meaning of this mysterious world around them. All throughout their early childhood years (until approximately the age of 8) their little brains develop at an astonishing rate.
Believe it or not, if your children recognise that you are going to buy groceries when you walk towards the supermarket entry, they are reading. They have memorised the visual appearance of the signs and pictures around them and they have attached meaning to them. This is one of the first steps towards authentic literacy –making meaning from what they see and connecting it to a personal experience.
Tips for supporting pre-readers from any age
- Read, read, READ. Read to your children, with your children and, as they grow older and more capable, listen to them reading. If you read a book to your child every single day up to the age of 10 they would have had over 3000 books read to them!
- Show that reading, writing and speaking have purpose. For example, show your children that you are looking at the words in the recipe book because they give you information that helps you cook their birthday cake.
- Point at signs and discuss them as you are driving
- Look at labels in the supermarket, point and tell your child what they are.
- Put labels on toy boxes in the home and use them to guide clean up time.
- Answer the ‘why?????’ questions as often as you can, whilst maintaining your sanity. Believe it or not, they really want to know why! By chatting to your children in this way they begin to understand the conventions of language, how conversations work and it helps them attach meaning to actions and words.
- Narrate your activities around the home.
- Involve your children in card writing. Get them to sign their names even when they can’t write.
- Talk! Even when your children are babies, they are cuing in on your body language and connecting your spoken words to your actions
- Put an alphabet poster on the back of the toilet door.
- There are HUNDREDS of different ways YOU can attach meaning to signs, letters, numbers and words. DON’T make it a big deal, make it fun. This is not about pushing your child to read early.
Tips for Parent to encourage Early Readers
- Encourage kids to read while you are cooking dinner or in the car on the way to work. Have books all around the house. In bookshelves, on coffee tables, between the carseats, in the toybox and even in a box by the bed. The more books you have laying around, the more ‘normal’ it seems to pick up a book.
- Choose books and reading material that will excite your children. Divert from the standard school curriculum books, explore reading with quality books. Head to the Lifeline Book Sale and stock up for very little cost. Let them choose a book for their birthday and/or Christmas at any one of the amazing Brisbane book stores for children.
- Join your local library- encourage a love of books
This is not about pushing your child to read early. This is about supporting your children in the literacy journey. It is about nurturing a love of reading, making it part of the every day activities in the home. If you want a starting point to choosing quality reading materials head to the Children’s Council of Australia Website or check out our best kids books list.