What is the single most important thing we as parents can do to prepare our children for learning? Executive functioning skills? Knowing their timetables? Having everything ready for each school day? Yes, we can all agree whilst each of these skills are important, there is one single thing we can do to prepare our children to learn. Read aloud – every child, every parent, every day.
Reading aloud provides a great platform for family bonding which creates lifelong memories. It also has multiple proven cognitive benefits for children. Reading aloud to and with our children, particularly in an engaging manner, promotes emerging literacy and language development. This supports the relationship between our children and us as parents. Reading aloud helps to expand our children’s vocabulary and stimulates language development from such a young age. It can also improve our child’s memory, concentration, grammar skills, and mathematical capabilities.
Some Useful Tips While Reading:
1. Get excited! Make it fun. Your enthusiasm is infectious. Make sure your child catches it!
2. Make an effort to point to the pictures, interesting words and phrases. This allows you to have useful and meaningful discussions.
3. If your child stops at an unknown word, wait five seconds to see if they can work it out. If they can’t, go straight to a letter prompt. Wait another five seconds, if they still don’t get it, use a second letter prompt. If they do not get it after the second prompt, just tell them the word. Use it in another sentence to create meaning.
4. Praise, Praise, and Praise. Look for opportunities to praise your child while reading. For example, “I really like the way you used letter prompts to figure out the word. You got that word because you did that”.
Some Useful Tips After Reading:
1. Ask your child to tell you what the story was about, ask relevant questions to be sure your child got the meaning.
2. For younger children it is good to ask Who? What? Where? and When? questions. These are questions where they can go back to the text and find the information.
3. For older children, we want to include higher-level thinking questions such as Why? and How? This makes our children think deeply about a text.
4. When finished, ask your child to reflect on the story. What did they find interesting, as well as discussing the characters and storyline. Daily reading reflection promotes content mastery and fosters student development of monitoring, self-evaluation, and reflection skills.
Remember, if your child is having an “off day” or is very tired, you can read the story to your child. This still provides cognitive benefits for our children. Read aloud – every child, every parent, every day.