Children's Reading Habits
Children who play sports or an instrument know just how important it is to practice. Without practice, skills can erode over time.
The same thing can happen with reading skills, but if parents and children work together, youngsters can maintain and actually improve their reading ability over the summer. Here are 10 specific ideas you can use.
1. Read to your child every day. Be sure to make reading a relaxed and enjoyable family event. Choose books with your child's interests in mind; the librarian can help you choose.
2. Make lists for everything. You and your child can make lists of groceries to buy, items to pack for vacation, books to get at the library, and chores to be done. Refer to the lists often, and ask your child to check off items as they are purchased, packed, or accomplished.
3. Share your reading. When you find an interesting newspaper article, comic strip, or selection from a book, read it aloud to your child to share both the information and the enjoyment of reading.
4. Keep a word bank. On strips of paper or note cards, write words your child has trouble reading or words of special interest. Then find enjoyable ways to practice these words. As you play board games, each player could draw a card from the word bank pile and pronounce the word or create a sentence using the word. Add at least one new word each week, and use the word often.
5. Get excited about children's magazines and read them together. Read the articles, work the puzzles, and play the games together. You can find many children's magazines at the public library. Also remember--subscriptions make great gifts.
6. Tape record your child's reading. First tape a "cold" reading. Then have the child practice the passage and read it again. He or she will be delighted to hear the improvement.
7. Use television to expand vocabulary and experiences.
Make your child's television viewing a positive experience. Watch together, discuss the events, settings, and characters in the program, and predict what will happen next.
8. Write stories or letters that your child dictates to you.
Sit together so your child can see you write, and help him or her read the work. You can help older youngsters write on their own.
9. Encourage reading for pleasure. Getting children hooked on a particular author, series, or subject area is one good way to get them excited about books. Summer reading programs at the local library can also make reading fun. Be sure to praise your child for reading, and be a role model by reading yourself.
10. Encourage reading for meaning. Invite your child to ask questions if he or she doesn't understand something. Children comprehend more when they think about what they read, and they learn to reread things that don't make sense. Also encourage the child to predict what will happen next. Reflecting and predicting keep the reader focused and aid comprehension.
Becoming a good reader requires practice, and most children will want to practice only if the task is enjoyable. The ideas listed here can help you work with your child to improve his or her reading ability while building positive attitudes toward reading.
By Susan Ramp Ridout. From Reading Today, the newspaper of the International Reading Association.