Make the most out of reading with your young child
by Denise Yellen Ganot
It is no secret that reading to and with your children has social, emotional, and intellectual benefits. The good news is that it doesn’t take much—maybe just a bedtime story, or a cuddle on the couch with a good book—to achieve these benefits. When it comes to reading with your child—no matter what age—a little bit goes a long way.
As a preschool and kindergarten teacher, I often have parents ask me how they can best prepare their children for kindergarten. Do they need to pay a tutor? Which apps are best? What flash cards do I recommend? My answer through the years has never changed. Just read, I say. Read to your child. Enjoy your child. That is all it takes.
As we enter the angst-filled summer months before parents send their newly-minted kindergarteners off to school, I’d like to share a few tips that will ensure that your student is ready to absorb all that kindergarten has to offer.
The benefits are astounding. So many studies have shown that kids who are read to from an early age go on to be readers themselves. These children develop rich vocabularies, empathy, problem solving skills, and more. The best side effect of all? Caregivers and children share quality uninterrupted time together.
Choose books from a variety of genres: poetry, humor, fiction, nonfiction, mystery, fairy tales, and more!
I suggest that you expose your child to as many different types of literature as possible from an early age. This way, your child is more likely to develop a love of literature. One day, in the not so distant future, it will also help to develop your child’s writing skills and sense of story. Need some ideas? Here is a list of books that may help.
Let your finger be your guide: point.
It sounds so simple, but the mere act of pointing to words on the page as you read is what helps your child develop concept of print. Your little reader will learn so much from watching you point to the words on the page:
- Directionality: in English, we read from left to right
- One-to-One correspondence: letters together make words Each spoken
word corresponds to a word on the page.
- Sight word recognition: words like a, the, is, or other frequently appearing
words will become familiar as your child listens to you read and watches
the words on the page.
Take time to enjoy, preview, and discuss the pictures.
The pictures tell the story. They tell the readers what to expect in the story; illustrations are often as rich as the story itself! Emergent readers learn to use picture clues to figure out words as they work to become independent readers. The more you show your child to appreciate the pictures, the more skills s/he will develop just by sitting and reading with you.
Ignore your phone, switch off the television, and snuggle up with a book and your child(ren). Make it special.
There is nothing more calming than sitting and reading a book with a child. I have taught classes of 30 or more students who can be loud and unruly at times. The second I pull out a book, children are focused, quiet, and engaged. Try to involve your children as you choose stories for your time together. Make trips to libraries and bookstores.
My own daughters are 12,11, and 7. Not a day goes by without a story for each one of them. Sometimes we read together, other times each child has her own special time with me. Despite all of the other benefits I have mentioned here, my personal favorite side effect is the calm time together. No matter what kind of a day they have had at school, who fought with whom, who yelled at whom, we know there is one time of day when all is forgotten and replaced by our love for each other and—of course—reading.
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