As educators and parents ourselves we know just how real the push to read and to be a reader can feel in the early years. There is a culture of teaching young children to read as a sign of readiness to learn, overall intellect and giftedness.
Here’s what we know having taught thousands of young children. All children will read. Like losing a tooth or learning to tie a shoe, it will happen when a child is ready. Can you hurry the process along? Sometimes. Does an early reader signal more success in school in the long run? Not necessarily. In fact, studies show that by midway through childhood, early readers and typically developing readers level out in their abilities overall. *
Reading is more than learning sight words, letter recognition and word patterns. Reading is a complex skill that requires scaffolding as well as deep understanding and reflection as a learner. Children will continue to work on “reading” and language arts well into young adulthood as they dissect, research and critique literature.
So hang in there, parents. The road to reading is just that ~ a journey with twists, turns, ups and downs. It’s not a “check it off the list” kind of skill.
But that doesn’t mean there are not things you CAN do as a parent to raise a reader. From infancy you can begin to encourage, support and foster an interest and understanding of literacy in a variety of simple ways that will prepare them for the journey of learning to read that lies ahead.
Five Tips to RAISE a READER:
Engage in conversation with your child regularly. Practice the give and take of talking.
Give simple, multi-step directions such as “Put the truck away and then pick out a book.”
Ask open-ended questions. Instead of “Did you have fun today?” ask “What made you smile today?”
Have fun with language. Rhyme, sing songs, play games and be silly with words with your child.
Read whenever you can but also talk about what you’re reading. Look at illustrations, colors and the shapes of letters. Make predictions and ask questions like “How do you think the child is feeling?” or “What do you think will happen next?”
* For a deeper dive, visit an this article by William Stixrud & Ned Johnson at edutopia.com
Amy Mockbee & Emily Boucher
Founders, Work & Play ECC