How to Engage Your Child with Reading
Feb 14, 2009 Reading 1890 Views
There is hardly anything better than reading to open the doors to the entire universe of experiences. Parents can hardly give a child for the long run anything more valuable than an appreciation of reading. It is even better for the parent to show a genuine love of reading and expresses this while teaching the child to learn to read.
Once children have learned to read entirely on their own, it is important to maintain a regular regime of reading aloud together...even if it is only a few times a week at a regularly scheduled time so that the children learn to anticipate it. When the children read stories that are intrinsically interesting, but are a bit above their reading level, parents are enabling them to stretch their capabilities and understanding while also motivating them to advance their reading skills. And if there are several children in the household, parents should try to adjust their schedule so that they are able to spend some time reading alone with each child.
Now, parents don't have to spend an enormous amount of time reading with their children. And it isn't important whether they are themselves skilled readers. It's all about the quality of the time that children and parents spend together, sharing in the reading adventure.
Long before children notice that there are printed words on the pages of books and magazines, they learn to appreciate the sound of language. Reading aloud with them helps them acquire listening skills and prepares them to understand written words. When the sounds of language become an integral part of children's lives, their learning to read will be as normal and seemless as their having learned to speak or walk.
Parents should remember as they begin working with their children that they are each in a very different places. Children don't come into the world knowing that words on a page are formed by groups of letters, that letters come in two forms (capital/uppercase and small/lowercase letters), or even that words (in English) are sequenced on a page from left to right. So, at the outset, it is a great idea to gently bring these matters to their attention.
Younger children often seem to become fixated on one particular book or story and beg parents to read or tell it repeatedly. While this may concern some adults, especially if they find themselves somewhat bored with the repetition. But patience is essential because there are probably ideas or themes in the material that addressthe child's emotional needs or interests. And introducing a new book or story before repeating a favorite one will serve to introduce the child to the notion that even more fascinating materials await in future reading sessions.
Even though the child may initially grow fond of a particular book or story because of its entertainment value, parents should be alert to the opportunities presented for teaching on a larger scale. When the story-reading is over, consider beginning a conversation with the child about the characters in the story. Which are the favorite? Why? How do the characters relate to one another? Does the story provide hints about their expectations or values? What are the possible consequences of their actions? Is there a moral that can be expressed in an age-appropriate way to the child?
Starting early in the child's life and continuing to regularly read aloud together until the child is regularly reading alone will foster a life-long appreciation for reading ... an appreciation that cannot but help the individual understand an increasingly complex world.