This series has been on my mind for a while now. As a former first grade teacher, teaching children to read is one of my greatest passions! But because most children don’t start actually “reading” until around 6 years old (which is upwards of the targeted age range for my blog), I didn’t want parents to feel pressured that their 3-year old needs to start reading (which, by the way, they don’t!). However, the information shared in this series is general information that is beneficial for children of all ages, whether your child is ready to read or not. Don’t implement all of these strategies at once, nor should you expect your child to be able to do everything right away. It is a process and this information is simply for you to implement when you feel your child is ready.
Read to your child
Teaching your child to read is truly a process that begins at infancy. (No, I am most certainly NOT advocating programs that claim to teach your baby to read using flashcards!) What I AM encouraging you to do is to begin reading with your newborn within days of welcoming her home! Not only is this a special bonding time for the two of you, it instills in her a love for books. Enjoyment while reading is one of the single greatest predictors of reading success in school-age children. If children don’t learn from an early age to enjoy reading, it will most likely hinder their ability sometime down the road.
Here are a few suggestions for the types of books to read to your child. But by all means, read whatever your child responds to and enjoys!
- Birth-1 Year: Lullabies, Board Books (with real pictures), Cloth Books (with various textures), Song Books
- 1 Year-3 Years: Rhyming Books, Song Books, Short-Story Board Books
- 3 Years-5 Years: Alphabet Books, Song Books, Picture Books, Rhyming Books
Asking questions while reading to your child is not only great for encouraging your child to interact with the book, but it is also extremely effective in developing his ability to comprehend what he is reading. You see, if our main objective in “reading” is getting our child to “sound out” words, we have missed the boat entirely. Even children who can decode words and “read” with great fluency still might not be able to comprehend what they are reading. If a child can’t comprehend what he is reading, there really is no point to reading at all!
While your child is a baby, ask him questions such as, “Do you see the cat?” while pointing at the picture of the cat. This will not only develop his vocabulary, it will also encourage him to interact with the book that he is reading. As he gets older, ask him to point to things in the book himself and make the noises of the animals he sees.
Once your child is about 2 or 3-years of age, begin asking questions before, during, and after reading the book. Show your child the cover of the book and ask him what he thinks it is going to be about (predicting). While reading, ask him what he thinks is going to happen or why he thinks a character made a particular choice (inferring). If a character is depicting a strong emotion, identify that emotion and ask your child if he has ever felt that way (connecting). At the end of the book, ask if his prediction(s) came true. Afterwards, ask him to tell you what he remembered happening in the book (summarizing).
Modifying each of these techniques during read-alouds to meet the developmental stage of your child is a great way to promote and increase reading comprehension!
Be a good (reading) example
Even if your child is fascinated with books from an early age, her fascination will quickly dwindle if she does not see reading modeled in her home. If you are not an avid reader yourself, make a conscious effort to let your children see you reading for at least a few minutes each day! Read a magazine, a cookbook, a novel, your Bible…it’s up to you! But show your child that reading is something that even adults need to do. If you have a son, share this article with your husband. Sons need to see their fathers read, especially since it is not something that they are naturally prone to doing.
As parents, we can sometimes get wrapped up with what exactly our children should be doing to be successful. But we often forget that children often learn by example. Grab a book and take a load off…for your child’s sake, of course!
Read to your kids. I have talked about my commitment to reading to kids over and over. I write my book reviews so my readers can walk into a library with some idea of where to start. I am giddy to work with Target to share their commitment to reading with you today along with a chance to win an iPad and a selection of books to make it easier for one of you to read books online and off.
Target has launched a program called Target Read With Me to help promote reading , specifically reading proficiency in children by 3rd grade. What’s so special about 3rd grade ? Research * shows that 3rd grade is the turning point when children begin learning by reading not simply learning to read. The same study has shown that close to 3 out of 4 children with below grade level reading abilities in 4th grade never catch up.
Never catch up. We can’t let that happen.
That is why Target along with many partners have made a commitment to reading and education. By the end of 2015, Target plans to donate more than $500 million to support education, doubling its support to date, for a total of more than $1 billion. They also have collected wonderful easy to navigate resources on their Target Read With Me site to make reading with your kids easier. My favorite is this Build A Home Library from American Library Association. It doesn’t just list books, there are short synopsis as well. I stayed up way too late last night reading it, as giddy as a kid in a candy shop.
I am also giddy that they are offering one lucky No Time For Flash Cards reader a prize package to make reading to your kids online and off a cinch:
Target Read With Me Prize Package consisting of a 16 GB iPad with Wi-Fi for reading books online, along with a selection of age-appropriate books for your children.
All you have to do is leave a comment telling me :
What’s your favorite time and place to read with your children ?
Fine print from Target:This sweepstakes is only open to U.S. residents 18 years or older. A winning commenter will be drawn at random, using Random.org, after the sweepstakes closes on Thursday, Jan. 20 at 12:00am EST. The winner will receive a 16GB Wi-Fi enabled iPad and a selection of children’s books, a prize package valued up to $599. After the winner is notified, he or she has 48 hours to respond with their mailing address, phone number and ages of their children, so that Target can ship the prize and select books appropriate for their children. If the winner does not reply in that time frame, he or she forfeits the prize and another winner will be drawn at random. Please note that we cannot ship product to a P.O. Box. Disclosure I am working with Target, receiving compensation from Target for running this sweepstakes and Target is providing a prize consisting of 16 GB iPad with Wi-Fi and a selection of books for one reader.
*EARLY WARNING! WHY READING BY THE END OF THE THIRD GRADE MATTERS Voices for Virginia’s Children and the Annie E. Casey Foundation
My son has been asking how to spell words for a while, he knows his letter sounds and while I am not planning on formally teaching him to read yet I do want to keep him interested and learning , as well as offering some challenge . This activity evolved as we played and is easy to adapt to various abilities. You could even skip spelling as use it as a match game for younger children!
- Gather your materials. You will need a cardboard puzzle ours was from trick or treating , and markers in various colors. If you are doing this with school age or more proficient readers you can use one color, but for beginners or children needing less challenge the single color per word will help the process.
- Start by putting the puzzle together.
- Next divide it into smaller pieces for the words.
- Using one color per word , write the word one letter per piece on the back of the puzzle. Out of habit Icapitalized two of the words. When we put those together we talked about Uppercase letters and when we use them.
- Now to play! The way we did it for my son was to pick out all the letters in one color and place them on the tray.
- Next we tried to decide which letter came first. This frustrated my son, it was too much of a challenge. So I found the first letter and he was golden from there.
- Once the pieces are all together he sounded it out without prompting .
Early literacy isn’t a unit of study during Kindergarten, early literacy starts when your child is born and you use language to say hello to that tiny little face looking back at you. Sometimes parenting can feel overwhelming so I have brought what I think are some of the very best resources available on the topic of early literacy . It’s never too late to enrich your child and not nearly as hard as it sounds!
This is a fantastic resource, there is all sorts of information about development not just literacy related information. There is a lot on this site so do not try to read it all in one nap time or while watching tv before bed ( I know that’s the only time I have to read! ) , bookmark this one for sure! I love this checklist about everyday learning for babies and toddlers.
This is a HUGE site with a plethora of information so go slow. There are activities, articles , author Q&A and so much more. I love some of their activities too- they have many that include sensory experiences, and all types of learning! This is exciting to me as an educator because often times learning to read has been stuck in a work sheets and flash card abyss, it’s nice to see we have broken out of that mold for good!
This is a good page, but not as easy to find things or read tidbits at a time. They have a fantastic checklist for parents about providing a home environment that will help foster a reader though. Most of this page seems more geared towards the PreK- School age crowd but it is still very useful for parents of toddlers. They have a great resources page too.
This is a state of Maine initiative but I have posted it because it’s very to the point and reader friendly, which really means it’s short enough that you may be able to read it while your child is awake an ]playing quietly for 4 minutes! There are basic checklists and good lists of what parents can expect their children to be doing at various stages from birth to 5.
Scholastic’s tag line is about making life better by reading everyday. Well they make it easier for parents to find out how to help their kids with the information on this page. There is way more info on Scholastic about reading than this section and I urge you to read through and use their search but I particularly like this section because you can browse by age starting at 0 .
Please do not forget to go to your local library, I can not stress how fantastic a resource a children’s librarian is!
I hope these sites can be useful for you if not today in the near future, remember kindergarten teachers are magicians, kids start learning how to read the day they are born. We don’t have to push them , we just need to be there to support them!