As parents, it is only normal to celebrate landmarks for your child; their first word, their first steps, the first time they call your name and everything first. One landmark, however, that is not as celebrated, is reading. This is because of how long the process takes and by the time the child can read a book almost fluently,
the excitement may have waned. Nonetheless, being able to read is a skill that should be learned and celebrated.
Although the road to achieving this skill may be hard and confusing, there are practical steps that any parent could take to shorten the process or at least, ease the stress.
- Reading Head Start: When Sarah developed this program, there were no reading schemes at the time to help parents with their kids. After several frustrating attempts to get her kids to start reading, Sarah figured out a technique that saved her time and energy.
The Reading Head Start program is designed to help parents teach their kids how to read just by dedicating 15 minutes, three times a week. The program has been endorsed by parents and teachers across the globe because it indeed, gives children from the ages of 9 months to 9 years, a boost in the learning process.
- Begin with familiar words: For a child who barely knows how to make a coherent sentence, you shouldn’t be telling them how to spell “sarcasm”. Begin with words they already use in their everyday vocabulary; words like “mum”, “dad”, “ant”, “eat”, “to” and the alphabets are some examples of what you should begin your lessons with.
- Give them what they admire: No, we don’t mean sweets and candy or any other form of incentive. Every child is drawn to something from a young age: cars, blocks, dolls, or even culinary activities. Incorporating these pieces into the learning process would no doubt, spark a desire for reading. They can be a part of the books they read or the teaching aids you use.
- Create a routine: You have to understand that getting a child to do something as attention-consuming as reading, there has to be a consistent pattern. Now, do not mistake consistency for rigidity. If you have to force your child to learn using some boring methods, you would be discouraging the child. The goal is to get the kid to see reading as an activity that they love or at least, don’t despise. Creating a timetable for reading would work better than just doing it when you feel like because the feeling may not come for a whole week.
- Keep it short: Children have a relatively low attention span (studies say the attention span of a child is two to five minutes multiplied by the child’s age) and keeping them on one activity for an hour would defeat the purpose of the lesson. Each lesson should be anywhere between 20 to 60 minutes maximum depending on the age of the child. You could add a couple more minutes as you progress but whatever level you are on, try to keep your lessons within a reasonable time frame.
- Repeat. Repeat: Going over one thing multiple times may begin to bore you but if you abide by step 4, you won’t be bored for too long. Children (and humans in general) learn faster with repetition. You probably didn’t learn the complete lyrics of your favorite song by just listening to it once. Don’t be in a hurry to move from one set of words to another. Go over the words multiple times and watch your kid spell them back to you a couple of weeks later.
- Use visual aids: Saying one thing over and again to your kid is a good way to help them remember but there is a better way. Visual aids create pictures in the child’s mind and pictures are not easily forgotten. Stock up on graphic cards, hardcover books, bold sticky letters, and toys that could improve their vocabulary. Be careful not to choke the child’s routine with these aids otherwise, the child may lose interest in them and move on to something else quickly. You could keep these materials in open spaces where the kid could get their hands on at any time.
- Show and tell: Talking about the importance of reading is not enough so if after one year of training your kid still doesn’t give a hoot about books, you may need to re-strategize. Try to take a few minutes every day to read a book yourself or maybe even read to the child. Children learn faster from what they see so setting up a good example for them would be crucial to how soon your child picks up the reading skill.
Take note of your child’s phonetics, attention span, and learning speed as you teach. Some kids begin to show signs of ADHD and dyslexia from a very young age so it is necessary to observe as you teach. Include a variety of teaching methods and watch how your child responds.
Do not be hard on yourself or your child if the process seems slower than normal. Every child has a different learning capacity so don’t use any statistic as a yardstick for your kid.