"A national survey found that less than half (48 percent) of parents said they read or shared a picture book daily with their children ages 1 to 3. Even fewer, 39 percent of parents, read or looked at a picture book with their infants at least once a day. Most alarmingly, one in six parents of an infant (16 percent) said they do not read to their child at all (Young et al., 1996)." (Cited from http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/startearly/ch_1.html).
But the question still stands? Why? What is it about reading that makes it so beneficial for kids? The same website goes on to say that when parents read, talk, and sing to and with their child, it literally makes brain cells turn on. This means that parents really are their child's first teacher. Many of these experiences with words and stories cannot wait until starting school. It has to start at home...
And here's how:
The home is your greatest tool. It is accessable to you at all times and has a variety of ways to incorporate learning, reading, and fun into your child's life.
In the Bathroom:
- vinyl books during bath rime.
- bath paints or colored soap with sponges to make letters and numbers
- magnetic letters on the wall
- Have your child help you make the grocery list.
- Put away food packages according to the first letter.
- Keep a calendar for each week listing important days and times. Have your child draw a picture to go with each event.
- Let your child write letters in sand. No sandbox? Use a cookie sheet with sand.
- Let your child write and draw with sidewalk chalk.
- Make letters with a jumping rope and try to think of words that start with that letter.
Reading books can also provide a great conversation between you and your child.
Before you read a book: Ask "what do you think will happen?"
Look at the pictures together and study the drawings
Talk about experiences that connect to the story.
During the book : Talk about what is happening in the story.
Point out interesting or tricky words.
Ask "What do you think will happen next?"
After the book: Share your favorite part and tell why.
Rate the book from 1 to 10 and tell why.
Reflect with your child on the story.
What about when your child goes to school? What do you do when he or she comes home from school with a new book to read to YOU? What happens when your child makes a mistake when reading?
Here are some important tips about beginning readers...
- They need to point to each word. Encourage them to do so.
- They need to look at the pictures. Encourage them to use the pictures to help them.
- If they make a mistake, ask them "Where's the tricky word?" Have them point it out.
- Ask them "does that sound right? Does it make sense?" after an error. They might be able to go back and fix it on their own.
- Don't be afraid to tell them a few words when reading. They don't need to struggle through every word.
- Encourage them to look at the picture, look at the first letter, and make a guess when they don't know a word.
Here are some additional resources for you and your child:
* www.Readingrockets.org (for parents)
* http://www.readinglady.com/mosaic/tools/tools.htm#6 (for parents)
* http://www.magickeys.com/books/index.html# (for kids)
* www.starfall.com (for kids)
* http://pbskids.org (for kids)
Remember, you are your child's first teacher. Invest in your child's future by reading, talking, singing, and playing with him.