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Reading strategies to improve reading skills

 

Improve reading by reading to children

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The best way to improve children's reading skills is to read to them on a regular basis. Children that are read to regularly develop reading skills easier than children that are not read to.

Statistics show that many of us are not reading to our children as often as we could. Reading to children everyday assists children to develop pre-reading and pre-writing skills. Children that start school without pre-reading and pre-writing skills are at risk of school failure, and children that experience early failure rarely catch up.

According to a Parent Report of Reading to Young Children published in the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) journal,

  • Approximately 50% of children aged 4 to 35 months are read to daily 
  • Approximately 30% are read to 3 to 6 times a week 
  • Approximately 15% are read to 1 to 2 times a week  
  • Approximately 6% of children are never read to 
  • Approximately 21% of children have 10 or fewer children’s books in the home
    2% report having no children’s books at all. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Guidelines to Health Supervision III ask pediatric providers to encourage parents to read to their children from 6 months of age onward, and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau Bright Futures Guidelines from 2 months of age.

Reading to children provides many benefits. Reading:

– Stimulates children's imagination
– Promotes language development, both speaking and listening
– Increases knowledge
– Increases children's awareness of the world around them
– Fosters reading skills
– Prepares children for academic success
– Motivates children to love literature
– Promotes a love of learning

Keep reading to your child every day, even when they can read well independently. Children's comprehension skills are more developed than their reading skills, so they enjoy stories that may be a little challenging to read by themselves.

For parents who are not confident readers, your child will not mind how well you read, they will enjoy the time spent with you and will learn more about the world.

Encourage a happy reading environment for children. You could create a special reading place, a comfortable chair with good lighting and soft cushions. Physical closeness is also important, snuggling up together somewhere warm and comfortable to read will be a very pleasurable experience for you and your child.

Take your time and enjoy reading together

Read through the book yourself before reading it with your child, practice using intonation in your voice or adding sound effects. Try introducing character voices, but don't overdo it. Choose a character voice you will be able to maintain till the end of the book and then every time you re-read the book. 

Take your time when reading with your children, don't just rush through the words while you are actually thinking about something else. Concentrate on what is happening in the story so that you can match your tone of voice to the story line.

Discuss the pictures as you read, encourage your child to ask questions and talk about the story. Ask them to think about what might happen next in the story.

Borrow books or buy quality books cheaply

Your local library will have a fantastic range of literature for your child. The librarian will be a great source of knowledge, be sure to introduce yourself and talk about your child's current reading level and interests. The librarian will be able to assist you to select a range of books that will be suitable for your child. 

 

The other good thing about joining the local library is that your child will receive a library card. They can be responsible for looking after the card and for ensuring that the books are kept safe and returned. I suggest making a personalised library bag for your child. If you always place the borrowed books back in the library bag, they will be easily located and protected. Being responsible for the library card and books builds children's confidence and develops a healthy self esteem.

Many second hand shops have a range of books that are reasonably priced. Another option is to attend a book exchange store and recycle books your child is no longer interested in.

Encourage family and friends to give your child books for birthdays and Christmas presents.

Another way to access books for children is to download them electronically. There are many free books available online, and ebooks are often cheaper than purchasing books in hard cover. Some digital books have text that is narrated, so if children are in the car with you they can have stories read to them while you are driving.


Reading to children every day improves academic outcomes

The most important aspect of education is learning to reading. First children learn to read, then they read to learn.

It is very important for your child to be able to read well to achieve academically. Reading aloud to your children each day will not only develop good reading habits, the characters in the stories will become like old family friends. Children will develop a love of literature.

Make the effort to sit down with your children and read on a daily basis. It will be an investment in time that will definitely pay off in the long run. You will develop a closer relationship with your child and they will be learning and developing reading skills that will assist them with their academic development for many years to come.


Teach children to love reading

A lot of children today are missing out on the joy of reading and are therefore not getting the learning the comes from reading about different people in other parts of the world. Many families rely on watching the television to gain information or downloading an App to keep children entertained.

Mother and child - learning to readMany parents are not role modeling good reading habits. As parents, our fundamental duty is to prepare our children for the road ahead, for our children to grow into successful and caring adults. Seeing you reading will be a far better motivator to encourage your child to read than simply telling children to read.

Families that read together form close bonds. They share experiences, fun and laughter. Books help families communicate more effectively and reading together provides many topics for thought provoking conversation. 

As a parent, you can motivate your child to want to learn in a way that one else can. Families can develop relationships with characters within their favourite books and use these stories to promote learning in other areas.

A family that reads together, learns together.


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