4 Tips Busy Parents Should Follow to Build a Reader
All parents want what's best for their children. We want our little ones to grow up and accomplish grand things from very early on. The desire to raise smart, intelligent, and ultimately successful children is a driving force for most parents. I see this desire on parents' faces every year on the first day of school, at parent teacher conferences, and at dreaded "promotion in doubt" meetings. Parents wholeheartedly want to do right by their children. However, after many years teaching in the public school system, I have found that even though parents may want to do what's best, they may not necessarily know exactly what to do to help their children do well in school.
"What can I do to help my child?" is a question I hear constantly, and the response I give is always READ, READ, and READ some more. If you want to secure your child's success in school and in life, be sure to BUILD A READER!!!!!!!
Reading has to be a priority from very early on. Even though a baby may not understand what's going on in the book, he is hearing language, seeing words, noticing the difference in tone of voice, and focusing on pictures. Your baby is also benefiting from hearing words that she would not hear in everyday speech which will help increase her vocabulary. This is key to closing the word gap between children who grow up in working class families and children who grow up in more affluent, professional families. Researchers found that less than half of children from poor families arrive at school with the early reading skills they need to succeed in Kindergarten. I'm going to say that louder for the people in the back. LESS THAN HALF!!!!
That statistic is startling and deeply saddening. The word gap decreases both reading and math success in school (common core standards embeds the majority of math questions in word problems). Poor children walk into school at a disadvantage from jump street. We have to work our hardest to close that gap as best we can, and reading to our babies is one of the best defenses!!! Why???? Because again, reading books to your child introduces them to language that you do not use in your every day conversation which will increase their vocabulary. We must build readers!
Ok, read...How do I fit that in? Where do I find the time? I have two jobs, I work double shifts, I'm a single parent, etc. When you are goal-digging to make sure that your child has a roof over his head it can be tough to think about fitting in story time several times a day. So I've listed some quick and easy tips to accomplish the job. Add 1, 2, 3, or all 4 of these tips to your daily routine.
Read 1 or 2 books immediately after breakfast for babies who require your assistance to eat or read during breakfast for children who have mastered self feeding. With my daughter I typically read one longer book like The Tale of Peter Rabbit (approx. 1000 words) and one shorter book like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
Read a short 1-4 words per page book after 2-3 diaper changes. Books in the Baby's First series are great for this. First 100 Words is another great book for this literacy activity. Pick up the book and read them as soon as that clean diaper is on.
Turn the television off and read out loud while your child is present. We all have fallen victim to the television, our cell phones, and tablets. It's hard to disconnect, but for the sake of our children, we must. When your child is playing with her toys on the floor or examining household items the way they do so well, find something and read it out loud. Even though your child is engaged in something else, she will still reap the benefits of overhearing language. The next thing I'm about to write is crucial so I'll yell it for the people in the back. THE LANGUAGE MUST COME FROM AN IN PERSON HUMAN VOICE. The words heard from the television do not register in the brain the way words do from a live person. For sessions like these, I prefer more advanced children's books like The Velveteen Rabbit or Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters. I even do this with articles that I'm reading online, especially NPR.org articles.
I hope you all find this information and these tips useful. Remember, if we are going to give our children a chance to flourish academically, we have to supply them with the proper tools to succeed. So be aware, be proactive, and most of all be dedicated to reading!
Until next time,