I was shocked. A teacher told me that they didn’t help kids learn to read until they were 6 years old and in Grade 1.
What! This didn’t sound right.
Why wait until a child is in Grade 1 when most kids are ready to begin their reading journey well before they are 6 years old?
Ok, I am biased. I could read before I went to school. I don’t remember my parents ‘teaching’ me to read. I just remember having books around – and probably because there was no TV (yes I am that old!) I spent my evenings ‘reading’ them.
My parents both left school when they were twelve years old. They had no particular teaching skills but they set me on my path to reading and for that I am eternally grateful.
If my parents could do this for me, you could do the same for your child.
How wonderful it would be if kids entered school ready to read. Teachers would love you because you will be making their job easier but most importantly your child will be ready to learn. Learning goes like this – ‘Learning to Read: Reading to Learn’.
So what’s the best way to start your child on their reading journey? How can you help your child develop the foundations of a lifelong love of learning?
It is easier than you think. All it takes is a few minutes each day when you can be with your child without stress or hassle and a few simple strategies to keep in mind as you go about your day.
Here are three of the most important strategies you can use to give your child the foundations that lead to a lifelong love of reading. You may be using them already, is so that is great, but a reminder of how important and fun they are should help you know that you are on the right track.
Step 1 – Talk to your child.
Parents tell me that they talk to their child all the time. Sometimes they get tired of talking to their child because it can be hard work. Parents who tell me this are the ones who think that telling their child what to do – “Johnny put that away!” – is the same as talking to your child. It is not.
You need to have a conversation with your child. You need to let your child know that words matter.
How do you do that? How do we make “Johnny put that away!” increase your child’s language skills?Use more words – try something like this –
“Johnny I need you to tidy up because tea is ready. Can you put your toys away please? You know where they go. It would be really helpful if you could do that quickly so we can sit down for tea.”
Yes, it takes you a few seconds longer to add more words but it is easy to do and really helps your child develop better communication and understanding.
You can also use ‘Self Talk’. This is my favourite way of helping kids develop their language skills. Many parents are reluctant to try it but once they do they are really happy with the results.
Self Talk is just that – talking to yourself. But you do it when your child can hear you even though you are not talking to him or her. Talk about what you are doing, talk about what you are thinking, talk about what you enjoy, talk about what you see. Talk to yourself when you are washing dishes, preparing food, going for a walk, going shopping.
Your child will hear you and will learn new ways of using words and creating sentences.
And don’t forget to ask questions. This is my second most favourite activity to use with children. Asking questions is so important that I have created a parent course all about how to do it.
Check it out here. https://leadingtolearning.com/ask.
Asking questions not only increases your child vocabulary but is a great way to increase his or her thinking skills – essential for school success.
Step 2 – Read with your child.
Most parents read their child a book at bedtime. It calms restless children down, it helps set up a bedtime routine, it helps cement your relationship with your child. And it helps your child understand that those black squiggles on the page mean something!
Reading a book to your child is a good thing to do but there are many simple ways to use this time to introduce your child to some of the skills he will need to master. Skills such as reading from left to right, links between picture and word, pausing for punctuation.
For more information on how you can turn this quiet time into a wonderful learning opportunity check out my course – Ready to Read https://leadingtolearning.com/ready-to-read.
Step 3 – Introduce child to sounds and letters and words
We all know about the importance of phonics – the link between letters and sounds – as a tool to help kids read but there is an important first step that often gets overlooked and that is critical to reading success. Before children link sounds to letters they have to be able to differentiate sounds in words. They need to be able to recognize the sounds of individual letters in words as well as the sound of the word itself.
Try these activities that help wth this issue.
- ‘Simon Says’ – is a good game for reviewing your child’s awareness of initial sounds. ‘Tell me five things beginning with—‘, is another.
- Rhyming words helps your child differentiate ending sounds
- Writing a word on a ‘stickie’ and attaching it to the object helps children understand what words are and how they change.
- Recognizing street signs (double arches anyone?) reinforces the fact that signs have meaning.
Remember the phrase ‘Learning to Read: Reading to Learn’? The sooner your child starts reading the sooner he or she will start learning in school.
Don’t leave it to the teacher to get your child ready to read. Grade 1 is far too late for a child to start their reading journey. Think of the years of learning your child will have missed if he or she has to spend the first year in school developing the foundations of reading rather than actually reading!
You can give your child the foundations of a great reading life. You make the difference. Have fun.
- Questions? I LOVE questions. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to answer them.
- Want to know about more Leading to Learning on-line courses?
- Check out my courses here – https://leadingtolearning.com/allcourses
And if the course you want isn’t there let me know and I will make it for you – honest!