“Parents are the first – and perhaps best – teachers, particularly when it comes to influencing their child’s interest in reading and learning. Positive attitudes formed in the home can have a profoundly positive influence on all future education.”
-Nancy Livingston, Ed.D.
Director of Literacy
Brigham Young University
You are your child’s first teacher, and your challenge is to help your child become a successful reader. Does this mean you need to present daily lessons? No. This merely means you need to take an active part in helping your child with reading aloud and related activities.
The Read Aloud
Teachers want parents to prepare their children for school by sharing a love for reading, the attitude that reading is important, and the expectation that all children can become successful readers.
How to do this? Read to your child daily. Reading aloud just 20 to 30 minutes a day will go a long, long way towards reading success. Read whenever the mood hits. Read whenever your child asks.
When to Start
Start with these read-aloud sessions as soon as possible. Try to set aside the same time every day. This turns the read-aloud sessions into a routine. Not only will your child look forward to this time of day, and look forward to the extra attention, but this habit will ensure continued follow-through.
When is the appropriate time to start the read-aloud? Some educational researchers suggest reading aloud to children in the womb. Others say as soon as possible. In short, it is never too early to start reading to your child.
Consider starting by reciting Mother Goose rhymes which stimulates language development. Also consider some of the Dr. Seuss books for the introduction of rhyme, rhythm, and silliness. Eventually include some alphabet books which become preview for pre-readers and reinforcement for beginning readers. The more alphabet books read during the read-aloud sessions, the more success your child will have learning letters and letter sounds.
Read to your child every day.
Read stories you and your children enjoy.
Discontinue reading books not being enjoyed.
Reread old favorites.
Smile when reading.
Laugh at the funny parts.
You may be surprised at how much a simple daily effort will pay off. Not only will your child look forward to these special moments, but someday your child will start reading to you, and better yet, someday your child will pass along these activities to your grandchildren. That will be doubly rewarding and exciting to watch.
Bruce Johnson is an educator, reading specialist at the Merrimack Valley School District in New Hampshire, member of CLiF’s Advisory Board, and author of Helping Your Child Become a Successful Reader: A Guide for Parents. Learn more at www.guidesforparents.wordpress.com.