Learning how to read is probably the most important skill a person will every learn. Well the time has come, my 5 year old has started his journey in developing his reading skills. Reading has become more critical since he will be entered 1st grade next year and I want to prepare him as best as I can starting now.
So what do I do to promote good reading habits? and what improves their reading skills?
I constantly read to my boys. From the moment I gave birth to their precious little bodies I have been reading to t hem. Babies they love to hear the sound of their Mama and Papa's voices. They love to look at pictures and grab at the cardboard pages and explore all the things in their world. Reading was something I did with them to encourage bonding and closeness since I didn't breastfeed them for very long. I held their bare skins again mine and read softly to them and let them feel my warmth. Those were great bonding moments. I can not imagine breaking that just yet. I know the day will come where they will not need me or want me to read them to sleep so I enjoy every minute that I can get now.
Now that my boys are older reading to them helps to build their imagination as they picture the story unfolding in their head as well as thinking about what will happen next. I generally read them one or two stories a night at the same time, so when it's time for Lucas to go to bed, the three of us will gather in his room and have story time. I might ask them to point to things in the story, "Where is the big apple?" The objective of this is for books to become a regular part of their life. I want them to have a passion for it, to get excited about story time.
I save all the baby books! Joshua and Lucas no longer hold interest in books with rhymes or incredibly simple sentences. Lucas grew out of the cardboard book stage quicker than Joshua did and I chalk that up to him wanting to be like his big brother. I have continued to keep them in Joshua's room because they are great when it comes to developing reading skills. The repetativeness and the rhynmning together are fantastic for emerging readers. Hop on Pop is one of my favorites for just that reason. This was one of the first books that Joshua learned how to read.
I have Joshua host story time! So now that he has some reading skills, we do two books a night. I read one and Joshua reads the other. During this time we pretend that he's the teacher. He takes command of the room, making sure everyone is quiet and ready for the story. He feels so grown up! I always stay close to him just in case he needs help sounding out the words...lets face it, the English language is messed! examples: Rough, Through, Bough...make up your mind!
Identify your kids problem areas. In order to overcome a problem you have to know what the problem is right? The only way you can do this is by reading with your child regularly. Joshua's problem is guessing and not taking the time to point to each word and to focus on the letters in front of him. What I mean by guessing is that he looks at the picture and based on what is going on he guesses what the words are. In order to combat this I make sure that he uses his finger as a guide and consistently points to every single word before he says them.
There are other ways techniques that you can your to assist your child through this processes but I will save those for another post because this one is already way too long!