16. 10. 2014
Image Source: Huffington Post
Ahhh Fall.... The cooler temps, crisp winds and falling leaves always remind me of the start of the school year. I loved this time of year when I was teaching. I loved ordering new supplies, organizing and cleaning the classroom, and painstakingly creating laminated works of art posters for the walls (which often devolved as the year progressed into random pieces of paper that I wrote on with whatever writing utensil was handy. Hey, I was MUCH more focused on the kids and that's what counts, right?).
This time of year also signaled the start of parents questioning me about their child's reading abilities. If you are a parent wondering about your child's reading skills, or looking for help in nurturing your child's reading abilities, I have advice for you: Ask not whether your child is reading, ask first if he or she is pre-reading. Instead of pondering over the how, when and where the magical skill (it really does seem magical when it all comes together) of reading will blossom within your child, take a few steps back and take a look at your child's pre-reading skills. As a teacher, I loved pointing these skills out to parents when they would complain that their child was not reading yet. I would always stop them and say, "OH but he is beginning to read! Look and listen to how he is using this book. He is using some pre-reading skills that are going to eventually launch him into reading!"
What are those skills, you ask?
There are many! Pre-reading abilities deal largely with book-handling skills and a beginning understanding of concepts of print. To break down what I mean, take a look at the list below. These are a few questions to consider that deal with book handling and concepts of print to help you get a sense of some of your child's pre-reading skills.
Do you notice that your child:
- - Turns the pages of the book in the correct way?
- - Holds the book the right side up?
- - Notices print on the pages of a book?
- - Understands that print carries a message related to the pictures in the book?
- - Knows which direction to read text?
- - Understands the difference between a letter and word?
- - Know that words have beginning and ending letters, with more letters in the middle?
- - Notices that spaces separate words?
- - Knows that at the end of a sentence, you look down and to the left (aka the "return sweep")?
- - Understands that books, and the print and words within them, have a beginning, middle and end?
If your child is beginning to catch onto some of these concepts then FAN-TASTIC! They are exercising some great pre-reading skills and on a great path to be ready to read soon!!! Don't worry if they are not yet doing every single thing on this list. Some of the skills on here are more advanced and your child is on a great path if they're demonstrating a few of these skills.
Another GREAT pre-reading skill that is often dismissed by parents is when children recite stories from memory. My parents were frequently quick to say, "Ahhh, but he's not really reading, he's just saying that story from memory!" My response to this type of statement was "First of all HELLO! how wonderful is it that your son loves reading SO much that he has memorized a story?! Second of all, NICE memory and recall skills, son. These are KEY
skills for learning to read."
To explain, you need to rely on your memory and recall skills to help grow your help grow your bank of sight words (which are words that you know from memory). The more you read, the larger your bank of sight words will grow and the more fluently you'll be able to read text. Eventually, when you become a more advanced reader, you will read most of your words from memory (oh hey MEMORY
there's that word again!). Think about it, how often do you read something and actually decode the sounds in the individual words? If you're reading a text full of unknown vocabulary, perhaps you would have to spend time putting together letter sounds to read a word. Otherwise, you mostly read by recognizing words you remember. So don't be quick to dismiss a child using memory to accomplish any form of reading! This is a key ingredient to their reading success!
Hopefully this gives you a little more insight into how the whole reading process starts! I know it can be stressful waiting, watching and wondering when your child is going to start reading, but the best thing to do to help them on their way and to develop their pre-reading skills is to SURPRISE!
read to them. Model for them how you read, how you hold the book and turn the pages, point to the words and return sweep as you read, discuss the words and letters that you see, and of course
show them how much you ENJOY
being a reader yourself!
12. 10. 2014
Back in my teaching days, a parent asked me when she should start reading aloud to her newborn baby.
“Right now,” I told her.
She looked at me puzzled and said, “Now? But she’s just a baby.”
“Exactly,” I responded, “get started before she gets older!”
I know sometimes I'm reading to my kids and I feel like they're all...
However, studies have shown that the more language babies and children are exposed to, the better language skills they will develop as they grow. If that statement doesn’t have you running for a book for your child, here are some more nuggets of motivation for you…
One of the primary reasons
to read aloud to a baby is to help them associate reading with pleasure
- it feels wonderful to your little one to be snuggled up with you while they listen to your voice, and see and touch the pages of the book. These cozy moments also help to build a bond
between you and your child, further reinforcing the joy of reading. Additionally, reading aloud is a great calming and peaceful
activity for both of you, and is a wonderful addition to any schedule especially as part of a bedtime routine
As your child grows, other reasons to read aloud become more pertinent, such as:
- building their knowledge-base
- learning proper grammar
- increasing vocabulary
- bringing to light and discussing various issues, emotions and situations
- increasing attention span
But back to the babes for the time being…
So it’s important to read to them. Got it. But what should I read to them? Does it matter??
Try to find book that stimulate your baby’s senses.
Books that she can touch and feel with colorful and bright pictures are great. I’m a huge fan of anything touchy-feely!
It’s also good to find books with exciting sounds, rhythms and rhymes
. Babies can pick up on the rhythm of the rhymes of Dr. Seuss and Mother Goose books, for example, and they enjoy how the sounds in the words come together and repeat. Listening and learning to identify rhymes also exposes children to a very key skill in learning to read and write - listening for specific sounds within words. Learning to isolate and identify specific sounds in words are super-dooper important skills, as they lay the foundation for helping your child figure out how to sound out words when reading or writing. Listening to and playing with rhymes are great ways to exercise and practice this skill. When I taught kindergarten, I encouraged all families to spend time reading rhyming books and to play rhyming games with their children (i.e. “I spy something that rhymes with ____” or read a rhyming book but omit the rhyming word and let your child figure it out). But I digress, back to the babes again. It's also been said that babies enjoy listening to the flow of rhymes because it reminds them of the rhythmic sound of their mothers' heartbeats when they were in the womb. Bless their sweet lil hearts ;)...
What books do you like to read to your baby??