Reading is the gift that keeps on giving. When children start reading, they begin with picture books, and storybooks, and as they get older it becomes more and more about work and school books – which is where most children are put off by reading! And if this is compounded by undetected reading difficulties, it’s nearly impossible to reach the reading-for-pleasure stage. A strong reading habit in childhood helps with social and cognitive development and sets up children to become effective learners in the long run.
Perhaps the most satisfying of all childhood activities is storytime. Whether it’s parents or grandparents reading out tales or whether they’re old enough to read on their own – stories help children learn through context and imagination, with concepts and plotlines that are easy to understand and applicable to real-life scenarios. Here are a few reasons why strong reading capabilities are important for young learners:
- Rapidly improved cognitive skills
- Allows them to develop a vast vocabulary from a young age
- Helps them do tasks with more focus and concentration
- Open up doors for increased creativity
- Develops their curiosity for new experiences
As a parent, here are a few things you can do to help your child read better:
- Encourage pre-reading behaviors
Much before children learn to read formally, they exhibit an innate ability to mimic adults. Enabling, and encouraging kids to do this sets them up to be better readers.
- Sound knowledge: Songs, nursery rhymes, and even jingles on the television or radio can help children understand how different words sound and the symbols/letters they are associated with. Sound manipulation games can do wonders to help children understand how letters and symbols work together to create a meaningful speech that we call language.
- Responding to print: Big photos and icons that they see often and repeatedly are From images and symbols on packaging to identifying simple objects that they come in contact with regularly. For example, your child is able to identify the flavor of ice cream from its packaging alone.
Children who show signs of responding to such stimuli may be ready to start learning how to read. You can sow the seeds yourself by reading out loud to your child and constantly providing them with auditory and visual associations for things and situations they interact with.
- Teaching Letters
Contrary to popular belief, letters don’t need to be taught in any particular order. What’s important is to help the child associate certain symbols with certain sounds and how they can be manipulated to create words and sentences. Start slow and be patient. Keep in mind that this is a two-step process that requires the child to not only use their visual skills to identify the letters but also use their auditory experience to translate that information into a coherent sound.
- Have Fun With Sounds
When introducing your child to words, use the same philosophy as with letters and don’t rush the process. Start with small 2-3 letter words and help the child understand each sound. In the beginning use words where the letters make their ‘regular’ sound before moving on to the slightly tricky ones.
Before long, it will be time to teach your little one words that are not necessarily found in the text, but are used in everyday life and can be associated with visual cues. “yes” “no” “here” and “there” are a few examples. You can also teach them words by helping them associate sounds with images of simple objects.
- Find a good reading program
English reading for kids is a wholesome activity that can be made even more fun if it’s taught the right way. If you find that your child is struggling with reading English, explore avenues like the Nardagani reading program, which is an online reading program for children, developed by Narda Pitkethly to help make English learning for kids simple and straightforward. The system uses 12 symbols to make reading for kids an engaging and interactive experience.
No matter which option you choose, time and patience are key when it comes to teaching kids how to read. Give them all the space and encouragement they need and let them develop at a pace that they’re comfortable with.