What Top Researchers Say About Reading
Parents can have a strong positive influence on their child’s reading. Research has shown that enjoying books with a child for even a few minutes a day can make a measurable difference in the acquisition of basic reading skills, and that everyday activities — such as a trip to the grocery store — can be turned into enjoyable learning experiences.
The following is a list of eleven ways in which parents can encourage the development of the skills needed by children in order for them to become good readers.
Create Appreciation of the Written Word
- Find time to read aloud with your child every day. Typically, parents play an important role in developing this skill by reading to children and showing how important reading is to their daily life. Lap time with picture books and stories can strongly motivate your child to enjoy reading. Try to make these books available for your children to explore and enjoy on their own as well.
Develop Awareness of Printed Language
- Teach about books. When reading aloud to your child, let your child open the book and turn the pages. Point to the words as you read. Draw attention to repeated phrases, inviting your child to join in each time they occur.
- Point out letters and words that you run across in daily life. Make an obvious effort to read aloud traffic signs, billboards, notices, labels on packages, maps, and phone numbers. Make outings a way to encourage reading by showing your child how printed words relate to daily living.
Learn the Alphabet
- Play alphabet games. Sing the alphabet song to help your child learn letters as you play with alphabet books, blocks, and magnetic letters. Recite letters as you go up and down stairs or give pushes on a swing. A-B-C, dot-to-dot and letter-play workbooks, games, and puzzles are available at most toy stores. Many engaging computer games are designed for teaching children letters. Make sure these toys are available even when you are unable to play along.
- Watch Sesame Street with your child. Show the child how to sing along, answer the riddles, and engage actively in its fun.
- Make writing materials available to your child and encourage their use. Help your child learn to write his/her name and other important words or phrases. Gradually, help the child learn to write more and more letters. At first, most children find it easier to write uppercase letters.
Understand the Relation of Letters and Words
- Teach your child to spell a few special words, such as his/her name, stop, or exit. Challenge the child to read these words every place they are seen. Draw attention to these and other frequently occurring words as you read books with your child. Challenge the child to read these words as they arise or to search them out on a page. Play word-building games with letter tiles or magnetic letters. Have the child build strings of letters for you to read.
Understand That Language is Made of Words, Syllables, and Phonemes
- Sing songs and read rhyming books. Sing the alphabet with your child, and teach your child songs that emphasize rhyme and alliteration, such as “Willaby Wallaby Woo” and “Down By the Sea.” Emphasize the sounds as you sing. Play rhyming games and clap out names.
- Jumble the wording or word order of familiar poems and challenge your child to detect the error. Talk like a robot, syllable by syllable.
- Play word games. Challenge your child to play with words. For example, ask your child to think of words that rhyme with bat or begin with /m/. What would be left if you took the /k/ sound out of /m/ and ilk; and /s/, /a/, and /t/. Which of these words starts with a different sound — bag, candy, bike? Do boat and baby start with the same sound?
Reprinted with the permission of the Exceptional Children's Assistance Center.
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