Wednesday, 7 October 2015

What is one of the most important things you can do to help your child learn?

Parents often ask me how they can support their child's learning at home. My unequivocal answer is to read with them, to them and for them! Read everyday and make it as pleasurable and positive an experience as you can!  Read everything and more. Not just books, but street signs, billboards, magazines, grocery labels- as much as you can.

Make your child's reading experience as varied as possible, so that they begin to understand some of the things adults, as accomplished readers, take for print in every form carries a message, that illustrations carry a supporting message, that words carry emotional or persuasive weight, that text can appear in lots of different forms, styles and colours, but a 'b' is always a 'b' and can make a sound in a word.

Also, making books a familiar object teaches children other basics about reading, like the direction of text, the fact that a book has a spine, that each page has new ideas and illustrations, that printed words and spoken words have a relationship.

So what can you do to support home reading?

  • Make daily reading an established part of your home routine- a bedtime story, for example
  • Provide lots of encouragement in your child's attempts at reading. You don't necessarily have  to correct or 'teach', so my advice is, if they don't know a word and are stuck, just tell them and move on. Your child receives lessons on how to read at school, the role of home reading is to reinforce the positive nature of the reading experience. Constant corrections or interruptions can be detrimental to that experience.
  • Visit the local library together
  • Visit bookshops and have your child choose a new book as a part of a reward system, if you have one. If not, just do it anyway!
Really importantly, model good reading attitudes and practices everyday. This means you demonstrating pleasure and enjoyment in personal reading as well. Maybe a book, maybe the newspaper, maybe a magazine.

Developing good reading habits, a love of reading and an understanding of the concepts around the printed word is of immeasurable benefit to your child and is probably one of the most significant things that you can do at home to help your child's learning. Happy reading!

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