As a parent you are probably helping your child with reading much more than you may realise. If your home contains books, magazines and catalogues and your child sees you reading, if you read to your child and talk together about familiar stories, and if you also use printed materials to find things out, then your child already has a headstart in this area.
There are a lot of things you can do at home to help your kids with their reading and they’re not all difficult time consuming things to do. We can sometimes get carried away with the busy-ness of life and forget to do the little things. Have a look at some strategies to help you to help your child at home.
Creating a Reading Rich home
Books everywhere! Make it easy for your children to pick up a book and read it. Create a special corner in the main living space where their books can live. Buy a small plastic container or find a box and have them place in it all the books they love to read. These should be books they are allowed to ‘love’ – chew, turn pages roughly, possibly accidentally rip.
Designate a space on a book shelf for ‘special books’. Sometimes it’s nice to keep some books for ‘treats’ and have them somewhere where children can see them but maybe not reach. All of us have bought or been given beautiful children’s books that we don’t want ripped or chewed; this is what we mean when we talk about special books. Every now and then let your children choose a special book to read.
Show your child that you read
It’s called modeling and is one of those fundamental parenting ‘tools’. We all know we should be modeling the way we want our children to act and reading is no different. If we want our children to read we need to show them that we read and this is especially important for boys and dads.
- When you go to the library to get your child’s books check one out for yourself.
- Designate a 15min reading time for the family at a time that suits. Everyone sits down at reads at this point. (15mins is often long enough for children in this instance but by all means encourage them to continue.)
Talking about how books work
Sometimes kids tire of reading and so it helps to do something different with them…not rip them up and make paper darts!
Use some time to talk about how books work.
- Talk about the cover of a book, what’s on the front and back?
- How do we know who wrote the book?
- What’s it called when someone draws pictures in the book?
- What’s on the first page?
- We read from front to back, left to right
- If the book has a contents page talk about that and what the numbers next to chapters mean.
Sometimes reading a ‘whole’ book can be a chore for a young reader and they are often tired when we ask them to do this. Have turn about. You read a page or a paragraph and then have your child read the same amount. They experience success and you’re satisfied that the reading has been done.
Another spin on this shared reading is to share characters is there is a lot of speech in the story. Let your child chose a characters whose speech he or she will read and you read the other. If there isn’t that much then you read the narrative (the story part) and have them read all the speech no matter how many characters are involved in the story. They can have some fun trying to differentiate the different characters with different voices, tones etc.
You need to show your children that reading is to be valued. Doing all of these things, and making reading fun and non-threatening will help you to do that.
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