Your child may grow up in a world of emoticons and emojis, but helping him read good old-fashioned words is the single most important thing you can do to help him succeed in school. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), children who are read to at home enjoy a major advantage over children who are not. Reading helps children in all school subjects, and it’s the key to lifelong learning.
Here are ways to help your child be a reader:
- START EARLY AND READ OFTEN: Begin reading aloud to him when he’s a baby, and make this part of your daily routine. Start by reading for just a few minutes here and there. As your child grows older, you’ll be able to tell if he wants you to read for longer periods, and you can begin to talk to him about what you’re reading. Encourage him to ask questions about the stories you’re reading, and invite him to predict what will come next. This injects both fun and an intellectual exercise into the experience.
- ASK QUESTIONS: When your child begins to read, ask him to read to you from books or magazines that he enjoys. The more excitement you show when you read together, the more your child will enjoy the experience. If he asks a question about what he’s reading, stop and answer it. This process may help him express his thoughts and solve his own problems, and this is one of the greatest benefits of reading for anyone!
- SURROUND YOURSELF WITH WORDS: Keep lots of reading material around your home that is appropriate for your child. Books, magazines, newspapers — they don’t have to be new or expensive! You often can find good hard copy books and magazines for children at yard or library sales, or you can get free e-books through iBooks, Kindle, or your local library. You may also consider asking family and friends to give your child books and magazine subscriptions as gifts for birthdays or other special occasions.
- MAKE IT SPECIAL: Make reading a family priority. Set aside quiet time for family reading on a consistent basis. Some families even enjoy reading aloud to each other, with each family member choosing a book, story, poem, or article to read to the others. This time spent sharing favorite words together can make everyone feel special!
- LEAD BY EXAMPLE: Show your child that you value reading. Let him see you reading a variety of things, whether a book for pleasure or something for a routine task, like a letter , recipe, or email. Go with him to the library and check out books for yourself. When your child sees that reading is important to you, he’s likely to decide that it’s important to him, too!