Lay the Groundwork for Kindergarten Reading Success
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Who’s more excited about the prospect of your child learning to read, you or him? It’s a hard call. At this point, he's so close, he can taste it. And he's so eager, he might just choose the power to read over x-ray vision, or even a new Transformer guy. For parents, excitement is usually tinged with worry. You’re excited alright, but it’s a mixture of happy excitement for your child's future success, and nervous excitement for his future struggles. Parents want so badly for their child's progress in reading to be smooth and easy. As a teacher, I'm here to tell you: while it may be smooth, easy is not usually the most apt label for this giant milestone.
That said, there are some very practical and easy things you can do at home to pave the road to reading. And it's never too early to start! Jerlean Daniel, Deputy Executive Director at the National Association for the Education of Young Children says that the process of raising a great reader starts well before kindergarten. But as kindergarten approaches, it's important to ramp things up. Where to begin? According to Daniel, there are three major things that prepare children to read: reading aloud to them, engaging them in one-on-one conversations, and giving them lots of opportunities to write. Read on to find out why these components are so vital and how to incorporate them into your child's day.
If you're the parent of a child under six, you've probably been told over and over again how important it is to read to your child. And while the advice can start to sound like a broken record, it can't be emphasized enough. According to the National Commission on Reading, reading aloud to kids is the single most important thing you can do in terms of making sure they develop literacy. Research shows that reading aloud to children promotes their development of language, vocabulary, even motor skills (as they learn to turn pages). Kids who are read to consistently from an early age don't only learn to read more easily, but they also show better language scores long after kindergarten is a distant memory-- years later in upper elementary school.
In fact, the research on reading aloud is so strong, that the American Academy of Pediatrics recently began advising member doctors to prescribe daily reading to young children. Reading aloud fosters social and emotional development, and it's a great time to bond with your child. Also, according to Daniel, “Reading to children brings them an awareness of worlds beyond their own, a sense of imagination, an increase in vocabulary, and helps them make solid connections between literature and things in their own life.”
Reading aloud is all about building a foundation, by showing kids that words hold meaning. Another way to plant that reading seed? “Children like to do what they see their parents do, so modeling an interest in reading is important,” says Daniel. Whether you are reading to your child or showing your excitement to her about something you’re reading on your own, immersing your child in a world where reading is important, is key. And studies show that as little as fifteen minutes a day of reading together can make a huge difference in a child's ability to learn to read on their own.
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