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  • mom reading to child

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    Reading is a skill that is considered essential for learning. In fact, you could say that having good reading skills will help ensure one’s success at school and, later on, at work.

    This is why parents want to help develop their children’s reading skills as early as possible. It is important to note, though, that, like any other skill, developing reading skills takes time, and not all children are the same. The pace at which a child learns to read also depends on his or her readiness.

    You can make the process easier — and maybe even more fun — by putting these tips into practice:

    1. Read aloud to your child.
    Most experts would agree that the single most important thing that parents can do to help their children learn how to read is to read books aloud to them.

    As a parent teacher myself, I have seen how the seemingly ‘simple’ act of reading aloud to my children every day has benefited them in so many ways — including helping them learn basic pre-reading and reading skills. These include direction (print goes from left to right), rhyming, concepts of print or how to handle books, and letter identification.

    Jim Trelease, author of The New York Times bestseller The Read-Aloud Handbook, explains it perfectly:

    “We read aloud to children for the same reasons we talk with them: to reassure; entertain; bond; inform; arouse curiosity; and inspire. But reading aloud goes further than conversation when it:

    •    Conditions the child to associate reading with pleasure;
    •    Creates background knowledge
    •    Builds “book” vocabulary;
    •    Provides a reading role model.”

    So if you want your child to learn to read and love reading, read aloud to them every day — even if it’s just for 15 minutes.


    2. Provide easy access to books.
    Rosanne Unson, co-owner of The Learning Basket, says one of the things she learned under her diploma course in Language and Literacy Education at the UP Open University is the importance of making books available to children.

    “Make books available and accessible everywhere. Having access to books makes them interested in it,” Unson shares. “It also teaches them how to handle books properly. The more they are exposed to books, the more they will get interested in reading.”

    One way parents can do this is to dedicate a space or corner in their homes as their children’s “book corner” or “library.” If you can, provide bookshelves that your child can reach, and fill them with age-appropriate children’s books. Even children as young as 2 years old will love “reading” their favorite books in their own “library.”

    Related: 4 Tips on Creating a Home Library for Kids

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    3. Choose books appropriate for your child’s reading level.
    Vanessa Bicomong, a mother of three, and one of the co-founders of The Learning Library, says parents should make sure to select books that suit their child’s reading level.

    Referring to an article she wrote in 2013 for The Learning Library’s blog, Bicomong explains, “Younger kids need books with lots of pictures and very short text.”  This is because young children have shorter attention spans. “Picture books and books with single word text are the type of titles your toddler will enjoy,” she adds.

    For preschoolers, you can start with books that have pictures in the sentences, books with rhymes like the Dr. Seuss Classics Hop on Pop and The Cat In the Hat, and alphabet books.

    4. Make learning to read fun.
    Unson recommends parents play alphabet recognition and letter sound games. “Phonemic awareness — or the knowledge that letters make sounds that make up words — is one of the basic skills needed in reading,” she explains.

    “Examples of such games are Alphabet Bingo, I Spy Things That Begin with the Letter ___, and Rhyming Games,” Unson adds.

    You can also teach your child nursery rhymes, short poems, songs, and play word games like “Can you think of a word that sounds like bat?”

    If you are the type of parent who doesn’t mind using technology to help your child learn how to read, you can also let your preschooler explore websites like Starfall.com  or ReadingEggs.com.  

    Of course, as with all things technology-related, it would be best to make sure that your child’s “screen time” is limited, as it should only serve to supplement the other activities that you do together.

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    5. Make books “come alive.”
    Unson says parents should “relate books with life.” This fosters comprehension, which is the other essential component of reading.

    For example, if you are planning a trip to Tagaytay or any other place where you can see a volcano, you can read books about volcanoes to your child, like The Magic School Bus Blows Its Top: A Book About Volcanoes.
     

    6. Incorporate play into your child’s learning-to-read routine.
    Use toys to help introduce and reinforce reading concepts. Alphabet toys, spelling toys, and writing toys are the types of toys you can consider investing in.

    Related: 10 Toys that Develop Reading Skills


    7.  Teach your child to “find” letters everywhere.
    Point out letters that your child sees on labels, boxes, magazines, signs, newspapers, books — basically anything that has words and letters on it.

    Sound out the letter instead of saying the “letter name.”  For fun videos that teach letter sounds, you can try getting a copy of the LeapFrog Letter Factory video, or check out this ABC Phonics Song (Sing, Spell, Read, Write) on YouTube.

    You can also go one step further and label things found in your home, like the table, sofa, chairs, bed, etc.

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    8. Read.
    One of the things that most parents may not consider “helpful” when teaching their kids to read is to actually be a “reader” themselves. The thing is, if we want to help our children learn how to read, we should show them that we read on a regular basis, too.

    Unson explains, “Modeling is said to be one of the biggest factors in reading. The more a child sees a parent read (books, not tablets or phones!), the more he will want to read too.”

    A child’s desire to read will indirectly help him learn to read, because we all know that learning to do something usually stems from a desire to be able to do it.


    These tips apply to all parents and families, even if you’re not a homeschooler, or don’t consider yourself your child’s “teacher.” So what are you waiting for? Get your child started on the road to reading today!



    References:
    http://www.trelease-on-reading.com/read-aloud-brochure.pdf
    http://thelearninglibrary.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/tips-about-how-to-pick-the-right-books-for-your-child/
    http://www.ncld.org/students-disabilities/homework-study-skills/helping-your-child-learn-read-preschool-grade-3


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