Reading is one of life’s pleasures and when a child learns how to do it, a whole new world is opened up–filled with possibility, excitement, adventure and wonder. Most children learn to read at school but there are plenty of ways in which you can help to prepare them before they start. Helping your child to read can be one of the most lasting and positive things a parent can do–giving them a good start in their life-long education.
Read to your Child Regularly
It’s no secret that the child who is read to on a regular basis often picks up new words and reading skills a lot more quickly than a child who is not. Children enjoy repetitive sequences and so one book may become a firm favourite and may be requested time and again. This is fine and,in fact, studies have shown that repetition actually helps with a child’s ability to memorise key words and speech patterns. Reading to your child also promotes a positive relationship with books and if done at the same time each day, for example at bedtime, it helps establish routine which in turn helps to aid feelings of security.
Point out key words
As you read to your child, point out key words and ask your child to point to the picture on the page. Talk about the letter at the beginning of the word and ask your child to spot more words beginning with the same letter. This will help your child to recognise words and letters, again aiding in memorisation. Another good tip is to stick words around the house to label everyday items. Things such as door, bed and window all help to aid memorisation and are key words that your child will recognise in time. It’s a good idea to include a picture with the words so that you can remove the label and your child can still read the word.
Encourage your Child to Re-tell familiar stories
If your child has a favourite story, ask them to re-tell it to you and praise them well when they do. Re-telling stories is an important way for children to learn comprehension and sequencing and is a good opportunity for you to ask questions that assess their understanding. Re-telling a story gives children the opportunity to discuss their favourite parts and why they like them. It also gives parents an insight into the types of stories they enjoy.
Don’t pressure your child
Play lots of word games, read lots of stories and talk about letters and the sounds they make- but don’t worry if your child does not seem to ‘make progress’. Learning to read is an individual process and most children are not ready before school. Helping prepare your child is a valid exercise and any small steps are steps in the right direction. Sing the alphabet song and foster a love for books and reading- the rest will surely follow.