Reading is a skill that every parent knows is essential for their child to thrive in the modern world. Gaining your children exposed to reading helps foster brain development, language development, and more at a critical time in their development. The skills and behaviors learned in those early years can have a strong impact on your child throughout their life. Starting early helps build a foundation that your child can improve on in the later years. In other words, the earlier, the better!
Gaining reading skills is such an important task that pediatricians now offer reading as a prescription for children as well as their parents (for their newborns). Not gaining these skills can be detrimental. According to an article from Quello.com, children with parents who read to them an hour a day had a vocabulary of 10,000 words of more by the time they reached Kindergarten! Low literacy can also impact children as they get older. According to Intellihealth.com, surveys show that children who don’t develop the appropriate reading levels by third grade harve a harder time graduating from high school. Adult patients with low literacy had more problems with their treatment and medication compared to those with well-developed literacy.
Children often begin their path to reading in Kindergarten, but that path can (and should) begin earlier than that. The more exposure your child has to reading, the easier reading can become for them. The earlier you expose your child to reading, the better. It can begin at home, with you. Sadly, a survey found that only half of parents with young children read to their children every day (see here). We can improve that!
You can be a reading superhero. A reading superhero is a parent or other adult who demonstrates and shares their love of reading with children so they can battle for literacy!
All it takes is a minimum of 15 minutes…
Here’s how you can get started….
1. Read to your kids every day (even if it’s just 15 minutes a day!)
Reading to your kids every day sets the foundation for reading behavior in the future. Depending on your child’s age, this can range from just a few minutes reading aloud and allowing a child to play with a book or can be a 30-minute (or more) dedicated storytime. Find the time and balance that works right for you and your family.
2. Have a dedicated time and place to read.
One way to encourage a habit is to repeat a behavior in the same place at the same time. Reading to your children in a comfy chair or by their bedside consistently helps children starts the process. After awhile, children will expect to have a book when they get in that chair (even if you aren’t there with them!).
Don’t worry though if your child wants to read a book at a different time or in a different location. Reading is reading! The point is to establish the behavior.
Choose a comfortable, quiet spot and start reading!
3. Keep books and magazines around the house.
Another easy way to encourage literacy is to have books and magazines around the house. Buy a couple of children’s books (based on your child’s interests) and magazines to keep your child busy. Encourage them to read when they feel bored. Develop activities and stories based on the books you read (Sands Hetherington did this and became a 6-time award -winning author!)
All it takes two or three books to start.
4. Encourage and praise reading behaviors.
Talk about reading and encourage reading in your home! When your child finishes a book, ask them about it. Ask them to read the book to you and others (like siblings or their favorite teddy bear). Get them in habit of seeing reading as a natural and positive activity in your house. Your child will follow suit.
5. Read yourself!
Children model what they see. If they see that you as a parent enjoy and make time for reading. They will model that behavior
You’ve got your orders. Now go out and start reading!
Need more help? Check out these additional tips and resources:
“Born to Read” (Insight on how to read your child) http://www.human.cornell.edu/pam/outreach/parenting/research/upload/Babies-20are-20Born-20to-20Read-20Updated.pdf
“Importance of Reading” http://www.mychildrensmedicaid.org/content/importance-reading
“Born to Read” http://www.ala.org/alsc/issuesadv/borntoread/resources
“Reach Out and Read Program (Physician-led literacy program for kids): http://www.reachoutandread.org/