Reading is a skill that is fundamental to your child’s education and forms the foundation of every other learning skill he or she will need to garner a good education and reach their potential in today’s fast-paced world. While the basic tenants of learning letters and sounds and recognizing them in words and sentences are crucial, having an understanding of what is read is the other side of the coin of reading education. Without being able to comprehend the subject matter, reading can be an empty exercise that can be frustrating and discouraging. It can also hinder their ability to progressively grasp more and more complicated concepts. Helping your child achieve a strong foundation in reading can be an important and rewarding labor of love for parents.
As a parent, you might not be an expert in early childhood education, but there is a lot you can do to encourage your child to develop skills that will improve their reading speed and comprehension, and nurture a lifelong love of reading.
One – Read aloud. When your child reads aloud, it forces him or her to go slower, giving more time to process what is read and improving reading comprehension. It involves not only seeing the words, but hearing them. Take turns with your child reading some favorite stories aloud. You can also try letting your child read the dialogue of one or more characters of the story in different voices to make reading more interactive and fun.
Two – Choose carefully. Introduce books that aren’t too hard for the young reader so your child doesn’t become frustrated with having to stop and start too often. As his or her reading progresses add more challenging books to encourage skill building, but keep the familiar favorites too, so your child can retreat to their treasured picks whenever they are in the mood to revisit an “old friend.”
Three – Read and repeat. If you are concerned that your child is stuck in a rut wanting to read the same book over and over again, don’t worry. It is actually beneficial for them to read a book multiple times. In fact, it can help build self-confidence, speed and comprehension. Rereading familiar, simple books also gives your child practice at decoding words quickly, and building fluency.
Four – Black and white and read all over. If you want your child to enjoy and excel at reading, give them some variety. Subscribe to grade appropriate magazines and newsletters for kids about subjects that peak their interest and curiosity…like the world of animals, science, and creative arts. Introduce them to instructional books like cookbooks and craft books, or fun reading like joke or riddle books.
Five – Piggy-back classroom topics. If your child’s class is studying a particular theme, look for easy-to-read books or magazines on the topic. Some prior knowledge will help him or her master tougher classroom texts and promote reading comprehension.
Six – Become a card-carrying member. It’s wonderful to have books at home, but to have access to a wider variety of reading material, encourage your child to get a library card. If you haven’t taken advantage of the vast resources of your local library, join with your child and get a library card for yourself. Visiting the library can be an activity you can enjoy together. And let’s face it, teaching by example is one of the most effective ways we can help our children appreciate the power of reading.
Seven – Put the FUN in reading fundamentals. The best way to encourage kids to read and read well is to make it a family activity, do it often and make it fun. There is nothing like story time to fit in some real quality time with your child. You don’t have to wait until bedtime to sit down together and enjoy a good book. Check out some of our family favorites that are fun to read aloud, whether you are a kid or a kid at heart.