Author: Michael Levy
A great deal of a childâ€™s reading success depends on the level of support that she or he receives at home. Children who are given the tools and the opportunities to learn to read both at school and at home have a better chance of success. The following are ten tips that can help parents know when they are on track helping their children prepare for reading success.
Tip #1: Read with and to Children Regularly
Reading at home with children is one of the best ways to ensure that they are ready for reading. It also sends the message that reading is enjoyable and fun. Parents should read with their children at least five times a week.
Tip #2: Let Children Explore Books Alone
Many parents often make the mistake of strictly controlling the reading opportunities that their children have. They may let their child select the book, but then completely take over from there. All children should be given the time to explore a book before and/or after they read it with a parent or other adult. When the child reaches the point where he or she can read alone, itâ€™s still a good idea to not rush into reading, but to encourage exploration first.
Tip #3: Show Confidence in the Childâ€™s Abilities
Children need to believe that they can do something. And, when a child becomes discouraged, it is often a parentâ€™s belief in his or her abilities that helps the child over a rough patch. Displaying a lack of confidence can make the child question his or her abilities.
Tip #4: Avoid Expressing Worry About the Childâ€™s Progress
Parents who are worried about a childâ€™s reading progress should avoid discussing this with the child. Discussing concerns with the childâ€™s teacher or other homeschooling educator is a far better option than risking compounding any reading problems the child is having by bringing them to his or her attention.
Tip #5: Encourage Children to Read to Others
Parents are built-in audiences for young readers. Parents should encourage their children to read to them often. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings and cousins, and neighbors are also great audiences.
Tip #6: Have Realistic Expectations
Parents have been reading for so long that they have understandably forgotten how long it took them to learn to read. Children learn to read at different paces and they begin to learn to read at different ages. Parents need to be sure to accommodate different learning styles to avoid rushing a child into reading or expecting too much from a struggling reader.
Tip #7: Avoid Rushing a Reading Session
Children should not feel rushed during a reading session. And, parents should avoid feeling conflicted between spending time reading with children and getting something else done. Schedule time for reading when nothing else will interfere.
Tip #8: Provide Reading and Writing Opportunities
Encourage children to read and write by putting them in charge of the shopping list and sharing letters from friends and relatives. Parents can also help teach children to learn to write by helping them write their own name on letters to friends and relatives. Opportunities for reading and writing development can be found in simple, everyday activities.
Tip #9: Provide Appropriate Reading Materials
Parents should make sure that their young readers have a wealth of age-appropriate reading material. Be sure to stock the home with books that interest the child. Take the child to the library as well. Encourage children to select their own library books and participate in the libraryâ€™s story time.
Tip #10: Nip Problems in the Bud
A child who is having trouble reading might have issues that need attention. A child that has trouble might have a learning disorder, hearing problems, or poor vision. Parents should be aware enough to attend to problems as early as possible but not so concerned that they create problems where none exist.
Michael Levy, PhD, is professor emeritus at the University of Florida, where his teaching and research focused on human cognitive functioning, particularly information processing, learning, memory, and writing. Dr. Levy was an innovator in the development of interactive tutorials for teaching complex concepts (such as those embodied in Reading Buddy 2.0) and has published 12 books and nearly 200 articles and book chapters.