Every year, I have concerned first grade parents coming to me about their child’s reading performance. “They just are not as far along as their brother/sister was at this age”, “how do they compare to the other children”, “they don’t like reading at home and we aren’t sure what to do.” Parents will ask how they can help their child in reading; and it’s no wonder they are so concerned in this area as it is an essential part of their education and future well-being.
Here are some suggestions that teachers can give to those concerned parents and hopefully empower them to do more at home.
- Can I Teach Them Too Young?
No, you can’t! The sooner you introduce your child to literature the better. Parents need to be reading to their children and introducing them to language and storytelling at a young age. This will boost their reading skills and their imagination!
- Talk To Your Children
The average child’s vocabulary when he starts school is roughly 5000 words. This means that between the ages of one and five, children learn approximately 3.5 words every day! In order for this to happen, children need lots of exposure to language. It’s not just how much children hear, but also what they hear that matters. Use words that are unfamiliar to your child, this will grow their vocabulary bank and prepare them better for reading down the road.
- Encourage Them to Write
Literacy is not just reading it includes writing too. Having books and magazines available for your child is a good idea, but it’s also helpful to have pencils, crayons, markers, and paper. Encourage your child to write the letters of the alphabet, numbers, notes or letters to somebody. Perhaps you could write a message to your child and they could try writing back to you.
- Read To Your Child
Ya, ya, ya, we’ve heard that before. Yes, but it’s true! Kids who are read to have better school readiness skills, develop a love for school because they are confident there, they learn to love books and it creates bonding time between the parent and the child.
The majority of the time, parental concern over their child’s reading ability is without merit. They just want to be reassured and empowered in some way to help their child at home. There are so many other things they can do to support their child’s literacy, but this will be a good start. Happy Reading!