Reading is a vital skill, essential in today's world to participate in public life and attain full potential. If your child needs a little extra help to begin enjoying reading or if you simply wish to promote their enjoyment of reading, this series will provide you practical tips and insights, plus the opportunity to ask questions and share your experiences in the comments.
Today, I share the first of 11 tips:
1. Model reading as part of your day; have shared reading experiences with your child
Rather than allow reading to be perceived by your child as school work, let her see you reading as part of your normal day. Demonstrate that reading is a means to achieving an end. For instance, reading food packaging to make shopping choices or reading a map to find your way. Covertly model the relevance of being able to read. You can do this by inviting your child to look at the packaging or map with you. Even if she is too young to read, make her feel a part of the investigation. Ask her what she thinks about the food item (regardless of whether she is old enough to respond or not). Verbalise your map reading and point as you trace the route. Older children can read along and help you make sense of the map or comment on the food label. Believe it or not, this is a shared reading experience in a safe, family situation, without class room pressures or fear of failure.
What is shared reading?
This is joining in or sharing the reading of a text with a more experienced reader. In this context, the child consciously or unconsciously observes your fluency and expression and learns to do the same; just the way they learn to do other things by copying you.
Benefits of shared reading include:
a. Promoting a sense of success from having provided support – in the examples of reading a food label or a map, your child feels good from having helped you solve a problem (which happened to include reading); children love to help and one successful attempt encourages them to want to do it again. Then you can reinforce the positive experience by praising them for being helpful. And invite them to help you read something else next time. As I've mentioned, even if this ends up as a monologue with a baby, they are more likely to grow up with a positive feeling about reading and of using their reading skills to solve problems.
b. Acting as though children are reading, for those yet unable to read and following your cues for those more able; just the way young children learn by mimicking the other things you do, they can develop positive attitudes to reading by mimicking you reading in pleasant situations;
c. Reinforcing the relationship between oral language and printed text - children learn or are reminded that each word or symbol of the text represents a unit of language as they see you point to the words and read them;
d. Demonstrating reading convention e.g. children see you reading words or pages from left to right and from top to bottom of the page;
5. Building and strengthening vocabulary as you talk with your child through the exercise.
You can extend these benefits to bedtime story reading or any other time you read with your child.
In Part 2 we will look at creating pleasant reading experiences.
Click here for more on shared reading from the Canadian site, Literacy for All Instruction and from the US site, Education World here.
Click here for a video explanation of shared reading and its benefits.