Summer is a perfect time to start a new habit in your home: reading together. Here are a few simple tips that can help parents support their young readers as they are learning, and then practicing, how to read. It is never too young to start. Even toddlers can benefit from these ideas.
1. Let them shine
Watch eyes light up when she or he corrects you! Pretend to not know a word. Mispronounce a word. Look to the child for the answer.
2. Take turns.
Take turns reading pages. “I will read one page to you, then you read one to me!” Books like Mo Willems’ “Elephant and Piggie” series are great to get started with.
3. Point to words
Point to the words as you read to your child. Use your finger to help the child keep pace. This can even help toddlers learn basic words. As she or he is sounding out a word, use two fingers to keep the child’s eye on the part of the word being pronounced.
4. Make it challenging; keep it rewarding
Mix in books that are “at their level” with a few that are slightly harder. Slightly easier books will keep a child’s confidence, and the harder books will keep the child challenged. Resist the urge to correct every mispronounced word. Sometimes it’s more important to celebrate the correctly spoken words than fix the misspoken ones. Pay attention to fatigue. Is your child too tired at night to read aloud? Sometimes this is hard for kids. They are just too tired. Try reading earlier in the evening. Encourage repetition. Reading the same books over and over helps them learn sight words.
5. Explore the story
Ask the child why the character did that, said that, felt that. Give him or her a chance to practice deeper thinking skills. This is an important part of reading comprehension. For older children (grades 2 and 3), this is even more important, as they will soon shift from “learning to read” into “reading to learn.”
6. Celebrate them
Stop to tell the child how great she or he is reading! Say you notice their effort. “Your reading is so great today!”
7. Keep it fun
Give funny voices to the story’s characters. Laugh and giggle! Don’t shy away from silly books, or books with themes that grown-ups tend to frown upon. What’s more fun than hearing your mom talk about boogers? Not much! Parents, just roll with it.
Dayna Provitt is a South Seattle mom and founder of the free Summer Reading Club. Families are invited to join the Summer Reading Club on Monday evenings in Beacon Hill (6:30 p.m., Jefferson Community Center) and Thursday mornings in Rainier Beach (10:30 a.m., Filipino Community Center). Website: seattlesummerreadingclub.wordpress.com.