You make your kids eat healthy, wear appropriate clothes, and wear shoes that fit because these things are important to the overall development of your child. The same applies to their mind – we’ve got to feed and nourish their minds just like their bodies. However, schools can’t do it alone – they need your help.
The most important thing you can do to help children become strong readers is to read aloud stories and poems. Books become your friends when they are fun and interesting. I remember when I was a little girl, my grandmother told the best stories. She had a way of pulling our imaginations into whatever time frame she chose to take us. Her love of poetry was a great tool in my life. Perhaps her encouragement inspired me to become an author. Telling stories to children is important. You get an instant audience when you start out, “When I was a little girl I used to…..” or “When I was a little boy, I hated to….” Try telling your children things about your childhood and see what happens!! Books help children learn to read because they feed the imagination. Helping children to imagine things in their mind – things that are not physically present – is a great part of reading. It is also a necessary part of writing skills. Think about it – what good does it do to read if you can’t close your eyes and imagine what you just read?
Reading fun phrases or lyrics encourage children to bounce around or move while saying words. This helps make stories come to life. Also, books are great tools for parents to use to help ease the pain of explaining. For example, if your child lost a tooth, has a doctor’s visit, is dealing with divorce or illness – books can be found to help explain these issues.
Some parents may say, “Oh, I’m so glad that James is reading by himself now, it sure saves time.” Remember parents, it doesn’t matter how long your child has been reading, they still need to hear and see you read with them. Sitting down together and picking up a book creates a close bond between readers! You are saying to your child – “We are doing something valuable together, we are both learning together.” Don’t underestimate this fact: Children are much better at “listening” to sophisticated or complicated stories being read to them than reading those books alone. *Encourage your children to build listening skills – Describe a picture to them and ask them to draw it. Ex. “Drawn a tall tree that has six branches on it. Color the branches and the tree brown. Draw a small kitten sitting next to the left of the tree.
As children become stronger listeners, they begin to comprehend better, therefore, leading to improved reading skills. This comprehension builder will allow children to store words. As children listen and learn new words, they store them. When children understand that they can pull words from their storehouse, they become confident in picking different types of books. Be willing to take the time to explain things to your children. Re-wording information will make them great listeners and readers.
*Bring stories to life – Reading aloud allows you to breath life into ordinary stories. When you “become” the characters in the books, children will listen and enjoy the overall story. Not every character has to have a unique voice, but squeaky voices, gruff voices and silly sounds encourage children to follow the actions of those characters. Allow everyone involved with the story to take part in the story – this builds creativity. In other words, PARENTS HAVE FUN WITH BOOKS AND BOND WITH YOUR CHILDREN!!
There are 5 important reasons that reading books can bond families
It allows you to pass reading and storytelling from generation to generation. The great stories that my grandparents told are passed down every time I do a storytelling event. Reading works the same way, great books are always passed down.
Reading teaches children about the world. If children aren’t able to travel to interesting and adventurous places, books serve as a magic carpet. This wonderful passageway will create a foundation for many ideas that can become great stories.
Reading allows children to see how others think and feel. Children begin to understand the culture and history of people around them when they have opportunities to read about diverse cultures. Open the world to your children by helping them understand that not all people are alike!
Reading helps make your child independent. As children learn to find their way around the world by being able to read signs or even warning labels, they begin to mature and prove that they are well on their way to becoming successful adults.
Reading with your child helps give them an educational advantage. They learn that reading and writing go hand in hand and as they begin to develop one skill, the other takes shape and develops as well.
Parents often ask me, “How can I help my children become better writers?” I first tell them that the key is to encourage them to pick up a pencil. Much like reading you must also serve as a model. Let your child see you writing a grocery list, a note to a friend, reminders for the day ahead.
Children are sometimes inhibited by what they DON’T know (that can be solved by improving reading skills – the more everyone reads the more they know!!) Encourage children to write down what they are thinking. Even if it may seem silly or insignificant to them –it’s information that can possibly be developed into a great story. (Keep journals or notebooks at home in places that are easily accessible – you never know when a great idea may strike!)
To ensure writing abilities, help children build their vocabulary. If they build a solid vocabulary, they won’t get into the habit of using the same old, boring words over and over ( ex. good, nice, big, etc). When they hear you use “big kid” words, they will try the same. In turn, they may experiment with these words when they are writing. The boring, “The house is big” sentence can easily become, “The mansion is humongous.” Never underestimate how much children can learn. If they are given the tools they can create phenomenal things!
*Play lots of writing games with your children. Ex. Grab a stuffed animal and place it on a table – see which one of you can come up with the most creative words to describe the animal. Bear – furry, huge, vicious, frightening, hungry, etc. This practice will allow children to see how detail words can add magic to writing.
Children also get to practice spelling skills when they write. Remember parents, give children time to feel comfortable with their spelling skills. Often children will revert to using boring words if they are not comfortable enough attempting the spelling of new words. This whole reading and writing thing is about building their confidence and self-esteem. When children believe that you support their growth and will not criticize, they gain the desire to show you what they know!!!
PARENTS: The goal is to show children that reading and writing are fabulous and fun!!! Don’t place unnecessary pressure on your children. This gives them a sense of failure and low self-esteem. When children begin feeling that way about themselves, they feel that they are substandard as learners!!! Praise them and help them realize that they are the BEST learners around!!!