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One of the most exciting parts of raising a child is watching them hit every developmental goal. Learning to walk and speak are some of the biggest milestones, and so is learning how to read. Not every child is going to start reading at the same age, so it’s important to remember that everyone develops at their own pace! However, there are some things that parents can do to help their kids along when it comes to learning how to read. These are some simple tips that I followed to get my daughter more excited about words.
There is no age requirement when it comes to kids and books. Obviously newborns aren’t going to appreciate storybooks the way toddlers do, but there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t (and shouldn’t) read to them. Books with lullabies and simple bedtime stories are suitable right from the get go. The older they get, the more involved they can become with these stories.They can sing along and recite simple rhymes or associate pictures with the words you say. All of these set up the groundwork for learning actual words later on when they’re older.
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Teach Them About Books
There’s more to books than just words, pictures, and pages. A fundamental part of learning how to read is how a book works. It sounds simple to adults, but for a kid it’s all new! Take the time to get your child familiar with book basics like which way is right side up, which way you turn the pages, and which way the words flow (left to right).
Ask Questions at Story time
Getting a child involved in the reading process is great way to help them learn. If you’re reading a bedtime book about a sleepy cow, ask if they see the cow by pointing to it. This helps them relate spoken and written words to an image. Comprehension is a huge part of learning how to read, and getting your child to interact with the book will help them understand the relation between words and pictures faster.
Encourage Listening and Outside Thinking
This might sound complicated, but it’s not. Learning how to read isn’t just about words. It’s also about listening and developing language skills. When you read to your child, don’t be afraid to ask questions based around “how” and “why.” For example, asking why the cow jumped over the moon will lead to some creative thinking on your kid’s part, and they will connect that way of thinking back to the story. When I did this with my daughter, she would create entirely new stories based on the books we’d read. I would encourage her to “read” to me after I read to her, and it became a part of our bedtime tradition.
When helping your child develop listening skills, it’s also important to take the time to explain words that they’ve never heard before when you come across them. This will aid their reading comprehension and also allow them to connect that information to the word when they hear it outside of reading time.
Getting Familiar With the Alphabet
While encouraging your child to memorize the alphabet is a good first step, it’s also a great idea to help them recognize the letters in other settings. For example, if you’re driving with your children and you see a store sign with big, easily recognizable letters, ask your kids which letters they see. The goal is to get them to recognize letters outside of a book. Teach them the letters in their name. Then, as a driving game, ask them to spot those same letters on signs while you drive. Once they’ve got that down pat, teach them the letters in other easy words (like “dog” or “cat”) and play the game with those words, too. This is an effective way of teaching letter memorization and association.
Not every kid is going to learn to read at a very young age, and that’s okay! Because reading is so important, however, there’s no harm in laying down the fundamentals to help them learn early on. Read to your children often. Let them see that reading doesn’t only have to happen at bedtime, either. If they see you reading the newspaper or a novel in the middle of the afternoon, it’s showing them that reading can be enjoyable in any setting. Ask them to help you read if you want to make a game of it. You can introduce some new words and get in a little extra bonding time!
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