One question parents ask me over and over is, “how do I help my child to become a reader”. Some of these parents have school-aged children, others have children who are still toddlers. Yet, all parents know that reading is a skill their children must master to be successful in school. Based on age, there are various ways to heighten a child’s interests in reading. Keep in mind that no one can be forced to learn to read. The desire to read should be a natural process. Below are some tips to help parents guide toddlers to become readers.
Be a reader to raise a reader. The more children see reading take place in the home, the more natural a choice it will become for them. Let children observe you reading for pleasure, information, and knowledge.
To engage children in early reading, be sure they have plenty of reading materials of their own. Ask them to look at their books when they play alone. Often times, parents hear children pretend to read favorite books to younger siblings, stuffed animals or imaginary friends. This is the type of play you want to encourage. This behavior lays the foundation children need to become readers.
Read to your child from an early age. Set aside a time each day to read to your children. Bedtime offers a good opportunity to read to your children. This is a lovely way to spend quality, quiet time with your child. It serves as a way to relax as you end the day together. It also helps children to see the value of reading for relaxation.
One of my pediatrician friends tells me she recommends that parents end each day with bath, book, and bed. This practice builds routine and a sense of well-being in children.
There are reasons why your children want to hear the same story over and over. Simply put, they find joy in repetition. The world is a big and overwhelming place. Children enjoy the familiar. Book characters become part of their small world to such an extent that sometimes children will talk about these characters as if they are real. Developmentally, when children see the same books over and over, they begin to identify words in the text. Likewise, as they hear the book repeated often, they begin to notice more of the context in the book. Over time, your child may point out things in the book they had never noticed before. This is evidence that your child is not only enjoying the repetition of the book, but learning as well. This repetitive reading is part of the foundation where connections between words, reading and comprehension are born.
There are many ways a parent can help their child become a reader. The ones I have included are basic and doable by every parent. Exposure to books is a key element in a child’s love of literature and ability to read. Have plenty of reading materials in the home for your children to view and hear. Make reading part of your daily lives, and remember a child learns through repetition.