Learning to read is the first major victory our children will have in life. As parents, we want to be there when that magical moment occurs. And, with a little planning and reorganizing, you can also be there for every step that leads up to that wonderful childhood achievement.
Basic literacy is the springboard for all the subjects your child will learn in school. This makes literacy among the highest priorities in early education. Fortunate children will have teachers who are experts in early childhood literacy. However, nothing can replace the vital experience you provide when you read with your child.
Establishing excellent reading habits in children starts with parents who are enthusiastic and frequent readers. Studies have shown that children with parents who read avidly develop better early reading skills and are likelier to pursue higher levels of education. The nurturing attention of reading to your children is an early and positive connection to books that can endure throughout their entire lives.
Reading to your children will help them develop a passion for literature while improving their spelling, grammar, problem-solving, and even math skills. But how should you go about it? What steps should you take and when? This guide will help you determine the answers.
What You Will Need To Turn This Guide Into Action?
There are a few things to get and changes to make before these steps can become a consistent reality in your home. Here is what you will need:
- Books for Your Child – A broad selection of books is important in generating interest in reading. The more books available to your children, the more likely it is your children will find books they enjoy.
- Books for You – Children need to see reading as the norm. Children often learn through imitation. If they see you reading, they will be encouraged to read.
- Quality Time with Your Child – We cannot emphasize enough that reading to your child from an early age is vital. It is a key part of both early literacy and lifelong reading comprehension. Reading to your child is loving, positive reinforcement that helps them associate books with a happy home environment.
- A Reading Space – Most elementary school classrooms have dedicated areas for certain activities. There is often a special reading area demarcated by a circle or rug and bookshelves. A space like this in the home helps children to see reading as a special activity and a priority.
The above list may involve some rearrangements in your home. Books must be visible, accessible, and always permitted if you want your child to become an ardent reader.
Steps You Can Take After You Read This Tutorial
These steps are scientifically and academically supported, yet they are easy to implement. We have also included “pro tips” for those who have already enacted some of these steps. The scientific support of each step is linked below.
1. Start a Daily Story Time.
This step should be done with your child’s cooperation. Establish a place that is neat, centered around your child, and screen-free. While it is your home, the reading area should be very much your child’s place. Your child should have standing permission to be there as long as reading is happening. This is the place where the first lessons in reading will be learned.
Story time makes reading special and important.
Your children should feel the story time-space is their own and that positive things happen there. That way, they will associate learning to read with the type of fundamental happiness you want for your children. While reading should be of high importance (whether it is you or your children reading), it should be as stress-free a process as possible so your children will look at it positively.
Consistency is key.
Find a regular time for reading with your child. We cannot emphasize enough that this should happen daily. You should also allow your child to help decide the time and place. In education, this is called “norming,” and it helps storytime to be personalized to your child’s needs. In short, make reading at the same time each day the norm.
Storytime can be about so much more than simply reading. It can be a time to generate creative narratives with your child or even have them write their own stories. In relation to this, it is an excellent idea to ask your child questions while you are reading.
- You can use this opportunity to bond and be close to your child both physically and emotionally. Strong, loving memories will reinforce the importance and joy of reading throughout your child’s life
- Reinforce for your child that it is okay to ask questions at certain times (perhaps with the turn of each page). It is never too early to foster curiosity while teaching the appropriate time to ask questions. It also creates what teachers call “buy-in.” Letting your children ask questions tells them their voices are important.
- Likewise, when you ask questions while reading, there are incalculable benefits. Asking questions throughout reading time increases your child’s engagement, attention span, and reading comprehension.
2. Let Your Child Choose the Books.
The broader your child’s reading interests, the better. They will read more voraciously, will seldom get bored while reading, and will gain an introduction to different genres, styles, and modes of communication.
Freedom to choose helps your children find their interests.
A classroom environment doesn’t offer a lot of choice when it comes to reading assignments. That can quickly kill a child’s enthusiasm for reading. Reading can open up new worlds for you children, thereby helping them find interests and passions they will carry into adulthood. Let them figure out what intrigues them by giving them choices.
Once your child has found interest or interests, nurture them.
Even a temporary interest can be am=n opportunity. No matter how short-lived they may be, foster those interests with more books. And remember, there is always a chance the most recent interest will become a life-long passion. Indulging your child’s interests can broaden knowledge and lead to proficiency in many subjects.
You never want your child to lose the feeling that reading is an adventure. There will be many twists and turns, exciting discoveries, and short-lived interests, but with these first two steps, your child’s enthusiasm will endure throughout.
- During times of high interest, the library is your best friend. It is a great way to introduce your child to simple research. Also, treating library books well is a message you can send your child that will help them understand the great value of books.
- If you go to the library or a bookstore, consider limiting the options. For example, tell your child to get one or two books on only one interesting subject at a time. This teaches patience and eventually rewards your child’s curiosity.
- With children of any age, a multimedia approach is helpful. You can supplement book time with related internet searches, TV, and movies. However, keep story/reading time sacred and free of distractions.
3. Have Books Readily Available.
We have to admit, this step may get a little expensive. Books aren’t always cheap, but they are necessary, and those who publish children’s books know that. Even so, the visibility of books in your home increases the likelihood that your child will read them. And remember it also often leads to a higher level of education later in life.
If you are an fervent reader, you need to enable your child to be one as well. This is what makes your story time and place so important when they are young. It is special and it is theirs. As your child ages, the story time space can become your child’s in-home library.
Book availability gives your child continual permission to read.
We believe that, even if your child gets in trouble, the punishment should never include taking away reading time. It create negative emotional associations when it comes to books. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set limits on things like reading at the dinner table or when company is over. It is also not advisable to punish your children by forcing them to read.
- Occasionally, give your child a book as a “just because” gift to celebrate a milestone. It is a great way to show love and bond while normalizing regular reading.
- Though it may seem a bit uncouth, have books and magazines in your bathrooms. Enough said.
- Have an in-home library of your own. Eventually, your children will become interested and gravitate toward it.
4. Your Child Should See You Read
You can be a role model for your children in a way that has both immediate and long-term benefits. Be seen reading. Model for your child that reading is necessary in everyday life. But also read for pleasure. This is another way to help your child associate fun and joy with reading. Children are masters of emulation. Help them to emulate the good things about books.
Talk to your child about your reading interests.
Reading isn’t just for kids, and it isn’t just for school. You can teach your child that. Especially when dealing with older children, it is important to share your reading interests. This communicates to your child something that is absolutely fundamental – reading is interesting when you find the right subject.
Be a reading role model.
When you read in front of your children, they watch and emulate you. They will pick up on the minutiae that make up good reading habits like looking up new words, turning the page back and rereading, reading for a good duration of time, and reading for simple enjoyment. You can fortify these lessons by explaining how you read or, better yet, showing them. This type of modeling is the norm and standard in most classrooms in the US today.
Studies have shown that parents unintentionally discourage their children from reading in eight ways. But if you are seen reading (and enjoying what you read), you will offset many obstacles and stumbling blocks in your child’s reading habits. Read to your kids, read with your kids, and read in front of your kids.
- Pick strategic times to read aloud to yourself. This further makes reading visible in your home, models good reading, and helps children connect reading to problem-solving skills. Some good opportunities to read aloud “spontaneously” are when you are going over your shopping list, making a budget, reading any sort of instructions, or cooking from a recipe.
- Talk about reading even when you aren’t reading. Conversations that start with “I’m reading something really interesting right now” tell your children that you are available, believe they can engage in adult conversations, and are willing to share your thoughts and feelings about things.
- When you go back to basics by reading something elementary, let your child see that. Let them see you treat it matter-of-factly while being interested in learning something new.
We can’t underestimate the effects we have on our children, even when we are unaware they are watching us. Having a home where reading is habitual, celebrated, permissible, and enjoyable will help your child get the best possible start on their educational journey. The routines, habits, and memories that you instill in your child now will be things they carry for the rest of their lives.
Did you enjoy reading this tutorial? We love reading your comments, so please, let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. Whether you liked this guide or it wasn’t for you, we want to know.