Read early and read often. The early years are critical to developing a lifelong love of reading. It’s never too early to begin reading to your child! The tips below offer some fun ways you can help your child become a happy and confident reader.
1. Read with your child every day
Parents should set aside a regular time each day to read with their children. Studies have shown that regularly reading out loud to children can produce significant gains in reading comprehension, vocabulary and pronunciation.
2. Have daily conversations with your child
Listening and speaking are the foundation of reading and writing. Listen patiently, and wait for your child to form his/her thoughts and words. Encourage your child to talk about his or her feelings daily.
3. Reading takes place anytime, anywhere
Children are naturally curious about everything. Make reading an integral part of children’s lives. Have your child read menus, roadside signs, number counting, newspaper articles, brochures, picture books, nursery rhymes, alphabet and counting books to help him/her discover and enjoy a wide variety of common reading materials. Practise number counting and number recognition daily.
A child should have his or her own library card and a tote bag to carry and store books. Encourage your child to read by visiting the library often and reward them with a story telling session for every book borrowed. Parents can point out something they think is interesting, but in the end, let your child make the choice.
5. Repeat keywords and stories often
Preschoolers often request to hear the same stories over and over again. Always show enthusiasm and excitement even if you have read it 100 times. Reading these favourites helps your child develop word recognition and pronunciation.
6. Make a message board
Let the child know the family’s plans for the day, especially when weekend routine varies, withweather condition. The message board can be anything from white board, chalkboard or just a pad of paper. Hang it at the chi
ld’s eye level and encourage creativity by adding his or her own message, doodle or draw to express themselves. For example, if you are planning a weekend visit to the supermarket, a child can doodle his or her views of what to expect in a supermarket. Just as children are learning to read and recognize words and letters of the alphabets, parents will also need to decipher drawings and doodles based on how the child expresses himself/herself to encourage two-way communications at an early age.
7. Display your child’s creativity in writing
Parents should display all the various forms of children’s writing, including scribble, doodle, drawings, even words made with objects such as sticks, alphabet blocks, sand drawings, etc. Take a photo and display them at the child’s eye level so it can be easily seen. Display everywhere, such as the refrigerator, wall, bookcase, dresser, kitchen cabinet or even your home workstation. Have family members and friends praise your child’s creativity and proficiency in writing.
8. Let children observe parents reading and writing
Young children imitate their parents so model reading and writing behaviour at home by the parents is very important. Reading the news from newspapers, instead of watching television sends a very powerful message about the pleasures in acquiring knowledge from reading. Encourage your child to see what you are writing, and use either print or online dictionary to look up words that you do not understand. For example, if your child wants you to draw a ‘crocodile’, use a search engine like Google to search for photos and illustration of a real-life crocodile. It will normally provide additional useful information such as eating habits, where crocodiles live, differences between alligators and crocodiles, etc.
9. Make a word bank/file
A word bank is an illustrated dictionary or file of words a child uses when talking, reading and writing. It organizes the words that are important to the child. Use index cards or a notebook and write each word large and clear on a separate card or page. Have the child draw/doodle a picture or paste a magazine picture that illustrates it. The cards or pages should be placed in alphabetical order and kept in a place where the child can easily reach it and look up words on his or her own. Whenever the child asks for help in writing or spelling a word, refer the child to the existing list or help the child add a new entry to the word bank.
10. Use a variety of educational aids to help your child
To help your child improve his/her reading, use textbooks, computer programs, and educational apps, and other materials available in stores. Games are especially good choices because they let children have fun, as they work on their skills, but be selective in the types of games for children. Avoid violent or gore contents, by choosing only games or educational apps, which provide holistic learning through entertainment. Review comments made by other parents on these apps and games. And most importantly, try it out yourself before letting your child have access to it. Always limit your child’s exposure to technology and never allow him/her access to Tablets or Computers un-supervised.