Children who read more develop better reading skills and a greater love of reading. Take steps at home and school to encourage your child to appreciate books. It will enrich their lives and prepare them to succeed in the classroom and in their future careers.
Steps to Take at Home
1. Read out loud together. Bond with your child by sharing a good book. When they’re old enough, take turns having them read to you or to their younger siblings. Let them sound out a word until they’re ready for you to prompt them.
2. Visit your local library. Your local library is a treasure house of literacy ideas. In addition to borrowing books, check out the story hours, trivia nights and other events.
3. Play word games. Design your own flashcards with words and pictures. Play board games that focus on spelling and vocabulary. Leave each other messages spelled out with magnetic refrigerator letters.
4. Schedule related outings. Make books more exciting by creating an adventure around them. Read guide books about your vacation destination. Read a play and then go see the performance.
5. Create a home library. Build your own library at home. It can be a separate room or just a corner set aside for a bookcase, comfortable armchair and good lighting.
6. Suggest writing projects. Compose your own books. Help your child pick out a blank journal they can fill in. If your child is too young to write, they can dictate to you and draw pictures to accompany the text.
7. Integrate reading into daily routines. Use household chores and leisure pastimes as an opportunity to practice reading. Ask your kids to tell you what’s printed on a restaurant menu or a road sign.
8. Limit television viewing. Is television crowding out time for reading in your home? Experts suggest restricting screen time to two hours a day or less.
9. Be a good role model. Set a good example by letting your kids see you reading. Explain how reading is relevant to your life. Discuss your books with each other.
Steps to Take at School
1. Get to know your child’s teacher. Attend open houses and volunteer at your child’s school. Make it a point to greet the teacher when you pick up your child and drop them off.
2. Work as a team. Collaborate with the teacher and other school officials. Listen to their suggestions with an open mind and be respectful but persistent in getting the support you need. Ask the teacher for recommendations for reading materials, especially during the summer and other breaks.
3. Stay in touch. Consult the teacher for the best way to stay in touch with them, whether it’s by email, phone or conferences. Maintain a regular schedule of progress reports.
4. Screen for learning disabilities. If your child is struggling with reading, early testing is critical to identify any learning disabilities and arrange special instruction. Your pediatrician can also help rule out health related issues that could affect learning like hearing or vision problems.
5. Ask for additional support. You’ll be happy to know that about 95 percent of kids who have trouble reading catch up to grade level if they get help before the second grade. Ask your school about having a reading specialist work with your child in an individual or small group setting. If you need more assistance than the teacher can provide, schedule a meeting with the principal.
Literacy is one of the most precious gifts you can share with your child. Help them discover the pleasures of reading so they’ll have a richer life.