Reading, and a love for reading begins long before a child enters preschool or kindergarten. It begins at home! By reading with and to your children early in life, you are setting them firmly on the path to later success.
There are so many fun activities that we can do with our children to get them excited about books and the world of reading. When kids are having fun, it is so much easier to draw them into something – like the wonderful world of literature. The very best thing we can do is to guide and direct them to enjoy it for themselves. When we are intrinsically motivated to do something, it is a much more lasting motivation.
Here are some family reading time tips for parents or caregivers of young children:
- Read together every day. This is family time, bonding time, and it is so important to both you and the child! Be sure to express to your child or children how much you enjoy and value this time together.
- Explore the story with your child. When you have finished a chapter or a book, ask your child what their favorite part of the story was. Then have them draw a picture of the part of the narrative that so captured their imagination. When they are done, ask them for a short explanation of their picture and that part in the story.
- Build critical thinking skills. Play a guessing game with your child as the story progresses. Ask specific questions on the plot or key events to ‘set the stage’ for reading such as: “So what is going on in the story?”, “What happened so far?” “Where are they at?”. ” What do you think will happen next?”. This will teach your child how to find, identify, extract and understand main ideas.
- Develop skills in processing and understanding text as they read. As your child is reading, they will come across unknown vocabulary or expressions. Pause and see if they understand what they are reading. Explain or define the word or expression and then them re-read the paragraph or section.
An activity that will help with reading and make your little one feel a bit more grown up is helping you cook from a cookbook. You can explain to your child that it is important to put the ingredients in and follow the instructions in the recipe in order. Then you let your child be in charge of reading the recipe to you as you make the dish. You will, of course, give them any help they need. But they can also read the labels on the ingredients that you are using. For instance, they can help you differentiate between baking powder and baking soda and make sure you get the right one. Perhaps you might even let them fix your ‘mistake’ when you pick up the wrong one.
When you can get a child excited about things – making pictures, funny games that maybe lead to silly stories, helping in the kitchen and feeling like a big kid – you help to raise their confidence and also their motivation to really enjoy books and reading. Getting creative and changing things up can inspire children to get reading!