Once upon a time... Parent's Guide to Reading
Once up a time…This phrase likely elicits a memory of one of your favorite books as a young child. Often reading allows you to escape reality, delve into interest areas, and is essential in completing simple every day task. Reading is so second nature to us that we often forget its importance. Our young children are so busy with play opportunities and are bombarded with screen time that it can easily be overlooked. Reading opens a whole new world to our children and is the most fundamental thing taught for all future academics. As parent and caregivers, we must set aside time every day devoted specifically to quiet reading. This simple task will help develop an early love of reading.
One of the biggest things I stress during the early learning years is instilling good habits for our children. This is true in reading. By introducing daily reading and having time devoted specifically to this, your child is likely to show early reading skills and excitement in this special time. By reading with your child for only 20 minutes each day they can build vocabulary, develop imagination and critical thinking skills, and improve focus and concentration. This allows our young children to explore interest areas and learn new things. The benefits of reading is not limited to educational success but can act as cheap/ free entertainment (check out your local library or McKay Used Bookstore in Manassas). More importantly it allows time for parent and child to bond without many of life’s distractions. As you set time aside in your daily routine, you will begin to see how excited your child is and you may catch them “reading” to themselves during their play time.
During a typical day, my family has two designated reading times. One of these times is a daily
chore in which they are rewarded for completing. This is often done as part of their daily nap or rest time where they are able to look through books in their own personal space. Why do I consider this a daily chore? All the chores I expect my children to do is part of their habit training of being successful. By showing that reading is just as important as making their bed, cleaning their room, or helping in the kitchen, I hope to reinforce that all are important parts of a successful day. Just as my personal work or household duties have expectations, it is never to early to place these for our children.
Our next reading time is for the whole family before bed. Not only does this allow to cuddle up and recap our day but also provides a chance for our little ones to calm their bodies before they lay down for the night. During this time we focus on talking about the words in the stories and ask plenty of questions about the story plot and what they may think will happen next. We also may talk about the characters, feelings, and the moral of the story. By extending our story time and asking questions it better engages our children especially when they can relate to the story. Often if a child is struggling with a certain behavior or circumstance ,and they read about a character who is facing similar struggles they are better able to cope and work through these struggles with confidence. I also like to also pick stories that allow story interaction. This may be a story with a repeated phrase like in “I know and old Lady who Swallowed a….” or “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive The Bus”. By engaging our children and encouraging them to interact, they will stay involved and focused.
Reading does not need to be limited to books. This could be a wonderful opportunity to introduce your child to other genre or media forms. Parents can introduce magazines, comics, or daily Bible reading. It is okay also to reread the same book over and over. We must remember it is the process of reading together that will make the biggest impact. As a parent, try to also to set time aside to read your favorites. One of the greatest ways to teach our children is through modeling good habits. The biggest goal is to engage and excite your child. With your commitment at home, your child will see the importance of daily reading and excited to explore the world that it opens up to them!