One of the most significant discoveries in recent reading research has been the importance of providing children with a language-rich environment right from the start.
The following are 10 simple ways to bring literacy into the lives of your young children:
• Talk, sing and play with your child. Teach them about the music and games that you are playing, and associate favorite books with songs. For example, if you’re listening to a children’s song about a frog, bring out a book that features a frog as a main character.
• Make time to read together each day. This ritual is relaxing for you and extremely beneficial for your child. Let your child choose a book, and read to or with them. Ask them questions about the book, make silly voices, and take advantage of teachable moments. Most childrens books offer some kind of learning opportunity – from manners to morals.
• Choose books with care. Choose books that your children are going to enjoy. If your child doesn’t like a particular author, find something else that fits their interests. If you’ve got a sports-loving kid, find books about Jackie Robinson or the Olympics. If your child is into music or dance, find books on famous musicians and stories that are centered around these topics.
• Surround your child with reading material. – Keep books around! Pretty coffee table books, books in the car, and books in the playroom are great ways to have impromptu story time. If you have books around, you’re much more likely to read them.
• Slow down and have fun. – Use your funny voices. Exaggerate for emphasis, and ask your child what he would do in situations in the storybooks.
• Read it again … and again. Even if this means the same story every night for weeks. Once you’ve worn out your child’s favorite book, head to the library for new options and even scheduled storytime or puppet shows.
• Foster your child’s awareness of print and how we use it. Point out signs, labels, instructions, and words in public places. Show them newspapers (the comics are a great place to start) and introduce them to reading games online.
• Provide a variety of writing tools and materials. Having “cool” pens and notebooks is a great way to motivate your child to write. Buy a cheap composition book and stickers so your child can personalize their very own journal. Encourage them to draw or use cutouts from magazines to “illustrate” their stories.
• Don’t pressure your child about what or when to read. If your child resents reading time, it won’t be fun for him. If your child doesn’t want to read, introduce something different that they’ll enjoy, like a fun magazine or comic book. Don’t sentence them to their room for reading time – let them enjoy the experience.
• Show your child that you value his efforts. If you need help motivating your child, using a sticker chart for completed books (or stories) can be a great incentive. Once your child has read 1, 5, and 10 books with you or on their own, give them a small prize – maybe a new book that they’ll enjoy, or maybe a trip to the museum to check out the art!