Learning how to read is a gradual process; much like walking, talking, writing, and anything else little children learn. Some parents might feel the need to ensure that their kids are ahead of their peers in terms of reading, but this pressure will only backfire on the child later. It is important to first make sure your child is prepared to start reading, and you can help them get prepared.
- Teach children to love books
If you can get your children to truly love books and enjoy story time, there will be little trouble transitioning them to reading on their own. The first step to this is constant reading. Read to your baby even before they understand the words coming out of your mouth. As they get older, read to them and answer whatever questions they might have, or allow them point at pictures or just hold the book as they stare at the words. At this age, provide them with picture books and rhyming books.
- Provide appropriate content
Children will be put off by books that are not appropriate for them, or books that are boring. You know your child best, and you can find books that are related to things they love. For example, if your kids love cars or puppies, you can purchase books which talk about cars or puppies. You may also buy books with characters which your kids love. You can also find more books their peers are reading on funny parenting blogs.
- Teach them to understand how to read a book
Your child may be holding up a book and staring at the words and pictures by now, but it doesn’t mean that they understand how the jumbled together letters form words. Teach them that books are read from left to right, and the different letters forming the words are what make us able to sound out each word. You may not even need to teach your child this; they will figure it out on their own as they get familiar with more and more books. Make sure you keep reading to them, and use your finger to point at each word as you read.
- Ask questions
While reading a book or after, ask your kids questions revolving around the plot. If it’s a picture book, you can ask them what they think a character will do next judging by the illustration on the page. This will help build their intuition, and encourage them to pay attention to the story.
- Teach them to recognize letters
Once your child is ready, teach them how to recognize and sound the letters of the alphabet. If they have already started learning about the letters in preschool, make sure you continue teaching them with a similar format so that you do not confuse them. For example, if they are taught the letters of the alphabet with their phonetic sounds, continue in this way.
- Keep encouraging them
When your child starts school, they may meet their peers who are ahead of them in terms of reading. If your child expresses the desire to catch up with them, encourage them to put in more work, and help them. Keep reading to them and provide reading comprehension worksheets which they will love. Help them learn keywords such as “he” “she” and “what”, and don’t discourage their attempts to read; simply correct their mispronounced words gently and ask them to repeat after you.
Every child deserves the gift of reading a book and experiencing a whole new world of different information. Your job as a parent is to guide them into this world of reading, and help them master the skill.