Get the most out of reading with your children
Numerous studies have shown that reading with and to your children provides them with benefits such as a richer vocabulary, stronger literacy and oral language skills, and more success at school.
How should you read to/with your child?
There isn’t one fixed formula. You just have to be flexible and responsive to your child’s needs. Your child needs to both read regularly and be given the opportunity to just relax and listen. Variations of shared reading include reading aloud together with you gradually lowering your voice, reading alternate paragraphs/pages one after the other, letting your child read but helping them with difficult words, or you reading with strategic pauses to make your child say certain words. For young readers, it is best to start with the word “the” and gradually move on to more difficult words when appropriate to ensure the child is looking at the text.
How to engage your child with reading?
Before reading, show your child the cover and title and ask them to predict what the story will be about. Discuss previously-known information on the topic (activation of background knowledge). Provide general information about the plot, setting and characters.
Continue making predictions as you read. Stop and to let your child figure out unknown words using picture clues, sounding out the word or reading past the unknown word to find an explanation or clue to its meaning. For multilingual kids, it is best to strike a balance between helping them develop skills to decipher an unknown word and simply telling them the word in their mother tongue. Ask questions (What do you think will happen next? Why did that character do that?).
What can you do when your child is struggling to understand what they have read?
First go back and re-read. Take time to understand unfamiliar words. Prompt your child to make a movie in their head and establish connections between the story and themselves, the text or the world to make the text more personal and give it meaning. Make predictions. Summarise and opine about what was read.
The love of reading and helping our kids become lifelong readers may be the best gift of all this holiday season!
Written by Lisa Conner