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How to Teach Your Child to Read: 6 Ways to Develop Early Literacy Skills
  • Kids learn to read at different ages. But it’s around preschool-age that parents ideally learn different techniques to help a child further develop her love of reading.

    “Some precocious readers practically teach themselves at 4. Some kids don't put all the steps together until well into first or even second grade,” says BabyCenter. “Generally around age 5 is when most children start to put the pieces together and make the transition from pre-reading to actual reading.”

    Here are some tips you can start doing today as well as some Smart Parenting-recommended preschool-age children's books.

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    When reading to your child
    Even if your child has already learned to read, you should still continue on with regular story time! Treat it as a chance to learn and bond together. 

    1. Point to the words as you read them
    “Run your finger under the words as you read to show your child,” says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). This simple gesture actually helps your child in many ways. If your child is already starting to learn to read, it helps her follow along as you read aloud. It lets her know that the story itself is in the words printed in the book, and it teaches her that spoken language can be represented with words on paper. Also, it tells her that text is read from left to right and top to bottom. 

    2. Let her join along
    For favorite books that you read a lot of the time, you can pause at keywords in the story and have your child “read” and say them aloud with you or by herself. A lot of children’s books use repetition and rhyme in the text as these make them appealing to kids. They make the perfect books to have your child join along. 

    For example, while reading out the cover of Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama Red Pajama (don’t forget to point to the words!), you can say, “Llama llama red?” and wait for your child to answer back with an excited “pajama!”

    Kayang-Kaya! (Php350)
    Words by Alyssa Judith Reyes; Illustrations by Liza Flores
    Available at major bookstores and online at Adarna.com.ph and Pumplepie.com

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    3. Read aloud with expression, emphasis, and excitement
    Step up to your storyteller role and read aloud with a lot of enthusiasm! “You'll not only make reading more fun but also teach your child about punctuation, sentence structure, and the flow of a story,” says BabyCenter

    Reading should be enjoyable. Use funny voices and animal noises. Marvel at the illustrations and colorful drawings. Don’t be bound by the text either or feel like reading should be uninterrupted. Stop to talk about what might happen next or what a character might do to solve a problem. 

    You can head to the library or bookstore to find more fun books. “Notice your preschooler’s interests and let her help choose which books to take home,” says pediatrician Dr. Carmen Ramos-Bonoan, who is the national director of the Philippine Ambulatory Pediatric Association (PAPA). 

    Bee Helpful (Php100)
    Words by Joyce Piap-Go; Illustrations by Maria Cristina Sison
    Available at major bookstores and online at Pumplepie.com

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    When your child reads to you
    Once your child shows better reading skills, let him takeover story time and choose books with simple text for him. “This can help build his confidence in his ability to read and help him enjoy learning new skills,” says the AAP. Remember to take turns. On some days, you can be the one to read more “difficult” or excellent books to give him a break too.

    1. Help out
    Your child is only just learning to read. If he asks you to read out a problematic word for him, don’t hesitate. “If your child asks for help with a word, give it right away so that he does not lose the meaning of the story. Do not force your child to sound out the word,” says the AAP. “On the other hand, if your child wants to sound out a word, do not stop him.”

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    2. Avoid saying “that’s wrong”
    There may be times that your child replaces a word in the books with another. For example, she might say “kitty” when the text reads “cat.” This is okay! As long as the word still fits and makes sense in the story, you don’t have to stop and correct her.

    If he reads out a word wrong, however, try to avoid outright corrections. You could try asking her to reread the sentence because you’re not sure if you understood it right. 

    3. Let her know how proud you are
    Learning to read, even if your child is just starting out, is a milestone to celebrate. Show your child how happy and proud you are of his new skill. “The praise and support you give your child as he learns to read will help him enjoy reading and learning even more,” says AAP. 

    Duck and Croc’s Magnificent Race (Php250)
    By Robert Magnuson
    Available at major bookstores and online at Anvilpublishing.com and Pumplepie.com

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