Help your child be a better reader
- 2001 24 Aug
Anybody who can read can foster a good reader. The skill of reading is foundational to all other learning - if they can read a book, they can learn history, science, geography, and just about anything else.
To help your child learn to read and write, consider these ideas:
- Read out loud to them. Brain growth starts when a child is born, so from infancy you want to be reading to him/her. The way your child learns to understand the world is by watching and listening to you.
- Move your finger under the words. Do this when they are young and they will soon relate the printed words to the spoken words.
- Teach sounds, not words. Phonics is a method of teaching children to read by pronouncing the sounds of letters and syllables. It's the natural way everyone learns to read. For example, by showing your daughter the letter "k" is pronounced kuh and not kay, you move her toward an ability to sound out new words. And make sure to note similar words to your children (zoo is like too and moo and boo) so they begin to comprehend the use of letters in creating language.
- Build their vocabularies. Read new books to your children regularly so that they hear new words. Talk to them the way you would talk to anyone else, and encourage them to ask questions when they hear a word they don't know. Make a point of enunciating your words because children have a tendency to slur words or insert other words to try and make sense of a sentence (like the child who prayed, Our Father, who aren't in heaven, Howard by your name).
- Teach them to listen. Reading aloud not only helps your children learn to read, it slows them down, brings the two of you close together, and trains them to listen carefully to stories.
- Encourage them to tell stories. After doing something fun as a family, ask each child to dictate to you the story of their day. After they're finished, read it back to them so they start to understand the idea of communicating in print. Their stories can be the beginning of a lifetime scrapbook or a letter to Grandma.
- Get them writing stories. By the time your children are 7, they should be encouraged to express their creativity by writing their own stories. Their compositions will reveal how they're doing at things like handwriting, spelling, and vocabulary as well as exercising their creative thinking.
- Check spelling and handwriting. Don't allow your children to grow up thinking they can always rely on spell-checkers and laser printers. Find ways to correct and encourage that won't stifle their creativity.
- Provide experiences to foster education. All children need a variety of experiences in order to put their gifts to use.
- Rely on good literature. There are plenty of fun and silly books for children to read, but don't let them read only those. Start reading some more involved novels, like Little Women or Anne of Green Gables, and talk about what you're reading. Start by reading a book to your child, or trading off reading chapters with each other.
From Family Times: Growing Together in Fun and Faith by Jerry and Patti MacGregor, copyright (c) 1999. Used by permission of Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Ore.
Jerry and Patti MacGregor are the parents of three children. Jerry is the author of a number of books on such diverse topics as discipleship, fathering, and sleight-of-hand tricks.