Reading is probably one of those skills that we parents set aside until our kids go to school. We think that reading starts at school and that teachers are the ones in charge of all the word recognition and so we put reading aside and let time do its thing.
The truth is that reading starts at home and it starts early. We can help our kids read better in the future by slowly and simply creating good foundations for them to use once they go to school. Attaining literacy according to Today’s Parent is, rather, a very gradual process. It begins with infants playing with or even chewing on board books and being read to by parents or caregivers, and continues through to independent reading.
How do we encourage babies and kids to read?
1. Invest in reading materials
Books over toys. Books over gadgets. Invest in materials that last longer and have longer and more beneficial use. Don’t ever feel that it’s a waste to buy a book for your kid. Whenever you can’t think of a gift to other kids, the safest way is to go for books. 🙂 It’s okay to buy toys, especially educational ones, but don’t forget to get them books as well. No, not just e-books. They can read that later. Start with real, tangible books that they can hold, smell, touch, tuck in with them on bed.
2. Be excited about books
When you go to the bookstore, be excited to see books. If your kids have favorite cartoon characters, you can start with those books. Invest in them. Sound excited whenever you see a character they love and ask them if they’d like to read what’s inside. Small acts on your part will give big and long term results. Imagine not having those stressful moments when you have to force your kid to read and study for their exams. If they have already loved reading at an early age, they won’t feel pressured whenever they read chapters of their history books or literature books when they reach junior high or college.
3. Read with them
Kids enjoy reading when they read with parents. Even babies enjoy having a reading time. If you don’t love reading, force yourself to spend story time or reading time with your kids and think of it as a way to help your kid in the future. It is different when they read books on their own and when they read them with you. They last longer when they are reading with another person than alone. You don’t have to do it everyday uf you can’t commit to it. Every other day will do or once a week. Just be sure you read with them when there’s time. It helps them understand what they are reading. You can also use that time to input some morals and good character formation related to the stories. They will remember them well.
4. Use their toys
If you have kids who are starting to read, you can try using their toys with the words they need to learn. Here, I used old plastic egg toys. I recently used these plastic eggs for Math & Eggs activity and Twist and Learn. You can write using dry-erase pens on lego blogs, and let kids categorize the words.
Sometimes, toddlers get bored at reading and reviewing from their books, especially for boys. They enjoy better when they touch things or they do something as they learn. We can help spark their interest by using their favorite things.
5. Read everywhere
Whenever you are out, you can start with the letters. If you see a big letter “A”, you can just excitedly say “wow, that’s a big red “A” they’ve got there.” Then you’ll notice your kids doing the same thing when he sees a different letter. Start with letters for younger kids. For older ones, act as if you are trying to sound the letters of words, or as if you are trying to read a word. You can do this in the mall, or while waiting for your orders in the restaurant. The world is your classroom! =)
6. Be an example
If you don’t like reading, at least make an effort to read once in awhile. When kids see adults, especially parents who read, they start to copy them. Kids copy what they see most of the time. They’ll get curious and they’ll have someone as an example. Do it for them. Have you ever seen strangers in a coffee shop reading the newspaper? Or in an airplane? You try to get a copy of the newspaper being passed in the airplane because that visual example somehow encouraged you to do the same thing. If kids mimic the way their moms do makeup or the way their dads hold cigarettes, I’m sure they will easily follow your reading habit as well.
7. Talk about what they/you’ve have read
Conversation. A follow-up to reading will always be conversation. Having someone to talk to about what they’e read makes reading more enjoyable for them. This also helps filter and assess how they have understood the material they’ve read. Some kids have wrong interpretations of the stories, so this is that part where parents come to the rescue to make things clear for them. It helps them understand the story in a different way which will help them in comprehension the next time they read a book.
Do you have some tips on how to encourage kids to read? Type them below for us to try. =)
More reading resources around the web:
- The Basics of Teaching Reading
- Importance of Reading to Young Children
- Reading Milestones
- Continuous reading