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Our last post was about the importance of early reading (if you missed it, go here), and today we’re sharing some simple and inspiring tips that can make practicing reading simple, as long as you recognise the opportunities!
1. Set the scene for Dreamland: Help your child to wind down at bedtime by switching on a dim nightlight and lighting a candle. Read the last story for the day in a quiet tone of voice and end it off with a calming hug and a kiss. Whisper ‘goodnight’ as you let your child blow out the candle as part of the ritual (only once!)
2. Pack a snack and a book: When you’re going someplace that you suspect you’ll be waiting for a while (like the doctor’s office), don’t only pack a snack, include one or two favourite books to read while you wait! This demonstrates to your child that reading is something worth planning for.
3. Read while you shop: The next time you go shopping with your children, don’t forget to look out for and read notices, signs and labels to them. When possible, point to whatever you’re reading to focus your child’s attention on the written word. And while you’re in the car, why not make it a fun game to read number plates, road signs, street names and other interesting billboards?
4. Add words to real-life pictures. Print out extra copies of your digital pictures; stick pieces of paper on them and write on it, e.g. “Daddy gives Mommy a hug.” “Stephen brushes his teeth. He gets ready for bed.” “Milo is a happy dog. He wags his tail when he sees us.” Put these pictures in an appropriately sized photo-album or laminate them and ask any printing shop in a shopping mall to ring-bind it into a book for you.
5. Far and Away: The next time you take a long business trip, photocopy one or two of your child’s favourite books ahead of time. Read to your child over the speaker phone at bed time, while your spouse helps your little one to turn the pages of the original book at the right times.
From 3 years onwards:
6. Sit back and relax: Record your (or a grandparent’s) voice as you read a story. If needed, use a video recorder and cover the screen so that you record only the sound. Using a teaspoon, ding on a glass to indicate page turns. On nights when you’re too tired to function you can sit with your child and turn the pages together. These recordings of loved ones sharing of themselves can become priceless family heirlooms.
7. Love those Labels: Label common objects in your home by writing words like ‘door’, ‘bed’, ‘chair’, and ‘bath’ etc. on pieces of paper and attaching the labels to the real objects. Hand-write your labels so that you can make sure the letters look similar to how your child’s Grade One teacher will one day teach him to form his letters. Also, leave the capitals and use only small letters.
8. SOUND it – don’t SPELL it: Children love to discover which sounds are represented by various letters, for example ‘s’ represents the s–sound as in ssssnake. However, keep in mind, when your child asks you to sound a word out for him, you’ll be helping him make the link between the letter and the sound better if you simply break the word up into separate sounds. Steer clear of using the names of the letters of the alphabet to spell the word for your child. For example, instead of spelling the word ‘b’, ‘a’, ‘t’, ‘h’, rather say, ‘buh-aa-th’.
9. Stick it in your pocket: Create a ‘reading pocket’ in your jacket where you collect all the interesting things you’ve read in the day, a cartoon from your daily newspaper, a fortune cookie message, a greeting card etc. When you get home you can share your wonderfully special ‘finds’ with your little one!
10. Give them a cooking-clue: The next time you bake cookies or cook with your children, let them see how you read the recipe step-by-step. Then line up all the ingredients before you start, and show your child how he can point to the ingredients from left to right, while naming each one out loud, for example flour, eggs, butter, milk, baking powder, and vanilla. This prepares him for reading words from left to right one day!
We hope this post has inspired in you ideas on how to make reading an everyday (simple) opportunity. It can be fun, it can be silly, and most of all it can be a wonderful opportunity to learn and share.
Just a quick note – our next post on Friday will be all about choosing the right gift for the right age this Christmas. So, if you’re planning on doing your Christmas shopping this or next weekend, this post will come in really handy!
Words: Loren Stow
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