How to teach my child to read

As parents or caregivers we want the best for our kids. We teach them so many different skills over the course of childhood. Practicing self-care, how to tie shoes, safety, and more. It is only natural that we also want to prepare them for school and the knowledge they will need to succeed when they walk through those double doors into kindergarten. Reading is no different, yet I often see parents looking for DVD’s, flashcards, Apps, and computer programs to shore up literacy skills. In this post I will show you low-tech, low-cost methods to build future readers.

As parents we foster independence

Why don’t apps, TV and computer programs work?

TV and technology aren’t the evil articles and click-bait posts would have you believe, yet, there is a time and a place for media. As a tool for pre-literacy learning, the research shows children are better served playing, reading, talking, and singing.

TV puts all of our brains in a passive state. While we watch, it is almost like a dream. Our brains are not engaged as they would be when we are reading or playing. Research shows that children who watch two or more hours of television a day can have a delay in speech, trouble hearing the different parts of a word, and are more likely to develop ADHD and other attention disorders. (http://unitedwayfd.org/reading-view-page.php?page=effects-on-reading)

We help our kids make sense of the world

What does work?

Talking, singing, reading and playing. These are the foundational blocks for early reading success. Conversation and play creates a learning environment where children build vocabularies and explore the world around them through their senses.

We provide a space space for our children to explore

Any normal, every day activity is an opportunity to learn. Going to the grocery store? Set up a scavenger hunt grocery list. Your child might not be able to read the words on the page, but you can have them find an item you tell them and when you get to that section you can show how the word on the page is the same as the word on the product. The same for driving in the car on the way to pick up a sibling from school or going into a store. There are words all around us and it is a great way to engage our kids in a text-rich environment.

Where is the proof?

From Reading Rockets

Show me how?

Reading Rockets is a fantastic sight for educators and parents. They have helpful videos, parent tips and more. Below is a video on how to help your child recognize letters.

From Reading Rockets

Building Future Readers is here to help

Would you like tailored reading plans and activities made just for your child? Email me at jessica.n.smith@gmail.com and see how I can help build your child into a future reader.

The pre-literacy skills Building Future Readers activities are based on

Early Reading Milestones

All my baby does is eat the book, we’ll start reading when she’s older.

My son tears every book he’s given. He’s just not ready to read.

Every time we sit down to read, my toddler gets up and plays with her trucks.

affection-baby-book-1741231.jpg

These are many of the conversations I have had with parents when we talk about reading. Babies drool on books, toddlers write all over them, or my infant can’t really understand what I’m reading so why bother?

One of the biggest predictors of school success is the size of vocabulary a child has by age three. Reading, singing and playing every day for at least 20 minutes provide the foundation for learning a child needs for the rest of her life.

We all want that kodak moment reading time together, and like much of parenting that isn’t real life.

Don’t wait to build a reading routine

The first way I gauge the reading life of a child when I work with them is by giving them a book and seeing how they hold it. Children who have been read to, even at young ages like two, will recognize if the book is upside down or backwards. A child who hasn’t been read to often, will flip the pages upside down or backwards through the book.

A child isn’t born knowing how to hold a book

From birth, we can read to our child. It doesn’t even matter what we read, all the baby cares about is hearing our voices. Yet, a lot happens in the infants brain when we read together. Synapses and neural pathways are created for the sounds heard. The patterns and pictures on the page stimulate their brains and engage their visual centers. Older infants will even coo and babble in response to what we read. Our children, through our modeling have learned to hold and turn pages in a book. A developmental milestone at this stage is reaching for the book, putting it in his mouth, and even using it to bang around. Hey, these books don’t come with instruction manuals! All those signs point to a child engaging with the book, that must be where “devouring books” comes from.

Use those fingers for more than holding the book

While you read, be sure to point out the words on the page, or the pictures that accompany the words. Name what you see, not just what is in the text. All of that helps the child connect the letters on the page with the pictures. They won’t be able to read a book yet, but they know those squiggles and lines mean something! As they develop, you will soon see them mimicking you by pointing at the words as they “read” the book. A great sign that all that quality time worked.

They aren’t going through adolescence at 18 months, they hear you

Toddlers love to boogie. They love to run and move and drive us up the wall with all that activity. There are days where they sit on your lap for stories and are soon zooming around the room playing trucks.

Most days, it is fine to call a time-out on the reading and pick it back up when all their sillies are out. Other days, you’ll stop reading and even though they are on the ground playing with their doll, your son might look up and ask, “Why’d you stop?”

Kids listen, even when they aren’t looking. How many times have we discovered that when we say a word we shouldn’t have and they repeat it? Pay attention to their cues and decide whether to postpone or continue reading on. I promise you, it won’t be like reading to a wall.

My daughter’s a genius, she’s reading all by herself at 4

While that is most certainly true, I’d hold off calling Mensa just yet. Children who have been read to have favorite books and they want those books to be read to them again and again and again

and again

and again.

In fact, just when you are about to hide the copy of Llama Llama Red Pajama, they will switch gears and Skippyjohn Jones will be their new favorite.

The great thing about all those repeat readings? They learn the story. Sure, they can’t actually read the words, but they know how the story starts, the problem in the middle and how the story ends. All skills they will be grateful for when they are in highschool and have to write a paper about the theme of Bartleby the Scrivener.

You should congratulate yourself when you get to this point. You have stuck to the reading routine even when you thought you couldn’t tell Marvin K Mooney to go home one more time.

You have not reached the read aloud end

Your child has been reading Fly Guy on repeat all by herself. He devours any book you give him, and that no longer means he literally eats the pages. Your child is an independent reader. Now you can sit back, relax and read your TBR pile that is about to collapse on top of you.

Warning

DON’T. STOP. READING. ALOUD

Kids at any age will receive the benefits of reading aloud. For elementary age kids, it will be fun to trade reading back and forth. For your sully teenager, it will give you a chance to talk without a scowl, eyeroll, or scoff. Keep reading. It builds relationship, maintains relationship, and reminds you of all the hard work you’ve accomplished for the past decade.

 

For More Information on Literacy Milestones

Literacy Milestones Reading Rockets

Reach Out and Read Literacy Milestones Chart

 

How much do you enjoy the reading time together? Then read even more.

Dr. Needleman, Co-Founder Reach Out and Read

Closing the Gap

You may have heard the statistics that by age three children of professional parents hear 30 million more words than children of parents on welfare. The statistics come from a 1995 study by Hart and Risley at the University of Kansas.

What they discovered is children who are read to and speak with their parents have higher IQ’s at age 3 and have better school performance later in life.

Massaro, Professor Emeritus in Psychology at the University of California Santa Cruz found, “Word mastery in adulthood is correlated with early acquisition of words.” What we know early in life, impact how we learn later in life.

What is clear from the research is conversations between parents and children are critical in language development and emerging literacy. Conversations alone don’t do the trick because, as Massaro says, our language is pretty basic. We use a lot of gestures and pull from the 5,000 common English words in our heads. Picture books, though, elevate our conversation and improve the vocabulary our kids hear because the words are unique and not used in our everyday.

Although parents can build their children’s vocabularies by talking to them, reading to them is more important.

-Dominic Massaro

What can we as parents do to help our kids get the best start in life?

PBS suggests modeling conversations starting at infancy.

  • Take turns in conversation
  • Vary pitch, speak slow, and repeat often
  • Talk about real-life experiences that are happening. When you are at the store, the playground or completing tasks around the house.
  • Make a space for your children to speak with their friends and siblings
  • Practice open ended questions at the dinner table or in the car
  • Write down stories that your kids create.
  • Read, Read, Read

These skills not only build our children’s capacity for literacy, it also builds trust, self-esteem, builds bonds, and improves listening.

Reading is still the best way to introduce new words and build vocabulary. It opens dialog between caregiver and child and creates new ways to interact with the world around them.

It may feel weird at first speaking with your baby. But as you talk you will notice that he responds in babbles, sounds, gestures and head movements. As your child ages the sounds will go from sounds to short words. Short words to short sentences. And between the ages of 2-3 years  conversations will become more organic. There are also other ways to engage your children, singing, naming what you are picking up at the store, pointing at signs and objects on walks and generally talking about normal, everyday routines.

What all these studies show is when parents and caregivers Speak, Play and Read with their child, literacy skills strengthen and have the best start possible in school.

Happy Reading!

More information on how to encourage conversations:

Reading Rockets: Talking and Listening: Practical Ideas for Parents

Growing Book By Book

March is Read aloud Month

Reading aloud

 

Read to your child every day is the mantra parents hear from the time they take their baby home from the hospital. Life is busy with kids and reading can get pushed down on the to do list with all the other things parents need to do.

Why is it so important to read to children starting at birth?

  1. Reading aloud changes the brain. The more kids are read to the brain center associated with learning to read is stimulated.
  2. Reading aloud builds language. Children learn to speak by example. Books are a great way to introduce unique language and sounds into every day speech patterns.
  3. Reading aloud makes books fun. But it also connects the parent and child deeper and can aid children in times of stress.
  4. Reading aloud creates strong students. Infant and toddler brains explode with growth in the first 2000 days of life. The more exposure to language, sound, materials, and learning they have the more prepared they are when it comes time to enter school. Children practices all sorts of skills when they are read to.

Importance of reading aloud. Reach out and Read article retrieved March 1, 2016 from http://www.reachoutandread.org/why-we-work/importance-of-reading-aloud/

Reading with your children starting at birth is more than just hearing the story. It changes the brain, helps children bond with parents and sets them up for future school success. Just 15 minutes a day is a great start to ensure your children have the tools they need when they enter the school world. March is read aloud month. Pledge to make reading a priority in your family and help spread the word by sharing a picture of you and your child reading with the hashtag #readaloud.

For more information on the importance of reading and brain development check out these websites.

First 2000 Days

Literacy Milestones

Reading With Your Child

 

What it’s all about

I am a librarian. I love to organize information and classify by subject heading. Books are the main diet of my day. I faithfully update my Goodreads account and visit my local library at least once a week.

I discovered my passion for building future readers when I was a librarian at an inner city library. I was trained to help model reading to parents and caregivers to ensure that every child is indeed ready to read when they get to school. Continue reading “What it’s all about”