Reading may be the single most fundamental skill a child has to master in order to become successful and productive. Recent studies show that the more books are present in a home, the more likely a child is to achieve academic success. Just having books around is not enough, however. Parents need to be directly involved with the development of early literacy skills to give their children the best head start possible.
Sounds and Letters
Teaching your child their letters and sounds is the first step in building reading skills. This can be achieved through teaching the child to “sight read.” This means associating words, letters and sounds with objects. Labeling your house, for example, can help a child identify lamps, the television, doors, windows and the like. Pointing out signs on boxes in the grocery store, public washrooms and the like can also help.
When your child becomes adept at sight reading, try mixing up the alphabet in different places throughout the day. Make photo books, songs, games and similar activities to help your child learn to translate the words they know into individual sounds so they can spell out words.
When They Are Ready
Eventually, your child will be ready to read on their own. Encourage them to look through books and help them with letters and sounds. Allow them to work at their own pace — frustration is the worst enemy of skill building. Choose simple books like fairy tales and books with repetitive text which take only a few minutes to read. Make sure there are plenty of pictures to associate with words.
Read with the child. Allow them to work out the story and guide their progress by helping them when they stumble. Talk with them about the story, focusing on vocabulary, spelling and text. Have them write their thoughts out. Finally, work with them every day to make sure their skills continue to build.
Love of Literature
Above all, you want to build excitement in your child. Make reading a fun time, not a stressful one. Don’t push your child too hard; reading can be a gateway to adventure, excitement and new experiences. The more your child looks forward to reading time, the more they will learn to love not only books and literature, but learning.
Your child should associate reading with special time spent together. Consider rewarding them at the end of every reading time with a trip out to their favorite locations — the library or the park — or giving them a special reward like ice cream or another favorite food. This will create a positive association with reading time and will further build their early literacy skills. Adding technology to the mix which uses animation and sound can also make reading fun.
Depending solely on schools to teach basic skills in children is not the best way to ensure success. Parental involvement is vital to future academic achievement. Why not start off with a classic fairy tale like Cinderella? Then take a look at the rest of the electronic titles we have to offer!