Many parents assume that literacy development occurs naturally and is something a child will simply grow into and acquire. While some children have a natural affinity towards letters and reading, most children need guidance and support in order to develop their literacy skills and develop a love for reading. Today's article is to serve as a reminder of the importance of reading as well as highlights the important role of caregivers, parents and teachers in the reading process.
The influence of a strong reading culture at home
A strong reading culture at home promotes independence, leadership and confidence. By fostering a reading culture at home, parents are reinforcing an important academic skill that is needed to acquire knowledge and understanding in school and is fundamental in every school subject. Furthermore it also a key component in social and emotional development. Reading promotes independence and confidence as many children who are confident readers are able to express themselves more effectively and are not afraid to mistakes. Reading promotes vocabulary development and fosters an understanding of the language being used. Therefore readers are more easily able to share their ideas, express their emotions and engage with others around them. As the saying goes, “the more you read, the more you know and the more you know, the more you grow.”
How do parents steer their children towards developing a love for reading?
Reading should be something children want to engage in and therefore it is important that parents are creative, consistent and participate in the process themselves. Here are some strategies you should try at home:
Buy interesting and easy books
It is important to have a range of books or reading materials available in your home as well as hi-low books. “Hi-low” books are books with high-interest topics for children reading below grade level. It is important to have books available in which your child is interested in. Starting off “easy” with basic reading and slowly growing book difficulty and complexity will foster reading confidence and independence.
Reading can be creative and doesn’t just need to include books. Switch off the sound of their favourite tv channel and ask them to read the subtitles. When you go shopping, point to different objects and ask them to name them or ask your child to read the labels of the items you are putting in your shopping cart. Use any and all opportunities to read!
As your child begins to read, it is important to involve yourself in the process. It is usually ineffective to simply give your child a book and tell them to go read for a few minutes on their own. Instead, it is important to make time for guided reading. This is where the child reads out loud to an adult who is actively listening and helping the child improve their reading skills. Children want to spend time with the adults in their lives and if you read with your child, chances are that they would want to read more often because they get to spend time with you!
Lastly, it is important to create good habits and remain consistent in them. Children thrive in structure and rules so therefore it is important to always uphold the rules/routines/habits even which your child pushes the boundaries. So remain consistent when implementing a reading environment in your home and sure enough, you will begin to create a reading culture that spontaneously develops and grows on its own.
Parents - remember to walk the talk!
Children mirror and reflect the behaviour, language and actions to which they are exposed to. What this basically means is that they copy your actions and habits! If you are trying to promote reading within your home then it is important that you model this behaviour to your children. If your child sees that reading is important to you and that it is something you make time for, then chances are that they will too. Children are pretty smart and can easily spot the disconnect between what you say and what you do. So make sure your actions match your words and I’m positive your child will then easily follow in your footsteps.