Just as parents teach their child to take the first step and say the first words, so should they inculcate the love of books in them from an early age. You can always read aloud to the child while s/he is still a baby, as doing so can help them recognize your voice and also get them started on their way to enjoying books. Here are few other easy ways to make your child a better reader:
1. Read with them from an early age
Reading with your child is the most important thing parents can do to make their child a better reader. When the child is a few months old; start with picture books. Point to a picture and say the word aloud. As the baby grows older, point to the same picture and ask her/him to identify them. Cuddling with them while you read helps foster the bond and can get them interested in reading. Soon the child will become a great reader as s/he associates reading with love, happiness and comfort.
2. Ask questions as you read
As the child grows older ask her/him to guess what will happen in the story. Also ask them to guess why a particular character in the story behaved in a particular manner. Don’t worry if these questions seem to break the flow of the story. The key is to not stop too often that the child loses interest in it.
3. Pick up books together
Take your child to a library and encourage her/him to pick up books they will like. Children are more likely to love books about places, animals and people who are like them. If possible, pick up books on topics like dinosaurs, holidays or rituals your family celebrates, food and so on. In early age, wordless picture books are very useful in that; they improve the child’s imagination.
4. Show your child that you are a reader too
While at the library, pick up a book for yourself too. This will show your kids that you are a reader too. Parents who read a lot themselves are more likely to get their children to become better readers. When collecting and reading books are made a part of family life, you send your child an important message that reading is important, enjoyable and fun to do.
5. Make children understand meaning between print and words
By the time your child is 4, point to words and ask her/him to recognize them. Many children are even known to start reading by the time they are 3! As you continue the daily reading sessions with the child, they will learn to understand that prints have specific meanings. They can even learn to recognize the difference in small case and upper case words. Soon they will be able to recognize alphabets. Helping children pay attention to sounds of words can prevent reading problems later on.
6. Encourage them to scribble
There is a strong connection between reading and writing. Get your child to hold a pencil or crayon at an early age. (You will need to make sure they do not draw on the walls!). Give the child a drawing or a coloring book and encourage him/her to draw lines, basic shapes and other easy patterns. Encourage 3-4 year olds to scribble their name. As a parent, your duty is to encourage the child’s writing. This will help them enjoy the process, so do provide them with spelling help should they need it.
7. Teach your child its first language too
If English is not your first language, make sure you teach your child to speak in the first language too. You can also teach the child the words in both languages. This will actually help her/him speak better in English and even read better once they start school. Speak to your child’s teacher and mention the efforts you are taking at home to make your child a better reader.
8. Activities that will make your child a better reader
There are many enjoyable activities that can help make your child a better reader:
- Talk to your baby– Babies love the sound of your voice, so the more you speak with them, the better it would be for them to recognize words. Soon their meaningless coos and gurgles will become more meaningful.
- Play simple games– For example, the body parts game: touch your nose and say ‘nose’. Then ask the baby where its nose is.
- Recite rhymes– Simple nursery rhymes can also help. Alter the tone of your voice as your say them.
- Play act-Play acting helps children learn that there are important parts of a story and also how things follow one another in it.
9. Make family outings educational
Ask your child to identify words on billboards, posters and signs. When you show your child word and letters over and over, she will identify more easily with them when she starts learning to read and write.
10. Use tools
Look for educational DVDs, TV shows and other activities that feature letter learning activities for children. Invest in learning tools like alphabet magnets for the fridge etc. You can also cut pictures from the magazines and newspapers and write words adjacent to these. Computers are great for learning too but you need to choose the websites wisely. Seek help from your local librarian to find out ones you need.
There are many other ways to make your child become a better reader. I hope this simple guide helps you.