Teaching children to read is one of the most important parts of their upbringing. It is not a natural act for most of them. It takes time for them to connect with words and pronunciations. Here are some suggestions on how you can help them get into the habit.
Language is the greatest gift of the human mind. Developing their interest in reading and learning a language is a way of connecting them with a culture and opening up a new world to them. Helping them read in their early years, is the most important job of a parent. In language, there is an inbuilt mechanism to pass on what we, the human kind, have discovered over centuries. Learning to read is a process of connecting with new ideas and it's an impetus to the creative impulse and imagination of a child. Getting them interested in reading is all about making it an enjoyable experience. One thing to remember is, whatever children enjoy doing, they learn it fast.
Tips On Getting Them Interested in Reading
I love words and you could say that I am addicted to them. It is an addiction which began in childhood, when I learned my first words. I took to it like fish to water. However, that may not be the case with every child as every one of them is different. Again, one method may not work with every one of them. You need to be patient as a parent when you are teaching them.
The mother and the father are the first teachers and therefore, a lot depends on how they mold the minds of their toddlers. Here are some general guidelines that will help you get them interested in reading, as a fun activity.
Start By Making Early Impressions
An infant's mind is a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds, and images. The brain develops with leaps and bounds in the early months after birth. Children generally start talking, by the time they are 8-10 months old. By talking, I mean they start making intelligible sounds.
A child learns through imitation. You can start by making words connect with things and identify people with names. Through repetition, the child's brain starts making connection between images and sounds. Audio-visual connection is vital to child's initial development, that will eventually enable him to read. Cartoon films, songs, and interacting with your child, are a great way of stimulating these connections to form. This will create the proper sound memory, which will help him in learning to read later.
Stories and Songs
Through imitation, the child learns spoken language slowly. Still, the tongue and mouth calisthenics required to make certain sounds can take some time to learn. Repeat the proper pronunciation to the child and encourage him to get it right. Nothing can whet the appetite of a child to learn new words and language, like stories and children's poems or songs, from an early age. Encourage him or her to tell stories and sing songs with you. This will naturally create the phonetic sound database in their minds that they will require later when they learn to read.
Introduce Them to the World of Letters
The next step is making the connection between the letters and the phonetics related to them. This is effectively done through repetition and constant visual correlation or identification of the letter symbol and the sound associated with it.
This can be done through charts. It can also be done through a game. Create blocks in the shape of letters and keep them in front of the child. Identify each block with a sound. Then, ask the child to pick out an 'A' or 'Z' from it. This way, the child connects with the texture of letters. Next, gift him pencils and crayons and draw the letters with him or her, in various colors. In this way, the child will slowly learn to identify letters.
The next step is to start with collection of letters, which are words. Start with simple words. Use charts with pictures and words associated with them, written in big letters. Identify the sound, spell it, and pronounce it for the child. There is no substitute to repetition. Encourage them to identify the things for which they know words. Reading sign boards is something I remember doing a lot as a child, as I learned to say words and pronounce them.
Story Books and Comics
Once children slowly learn the phonetic patterns associated with simple words, start with small story books with lots of pictures and guide a child to read through them. Comic books are a good idea too. Encourage children to read out stories for you. Encourage every little improvement and be patient. Once the child is hooked to the world of words, he will want to learn more. Tell him how everything has a word associated with it. They enjoy learning new things and words; within a few years, they will amaze you with their grasping power.
Make Bookstore Visits an Enjoyable Experience
Take them to visit a bookstore. Encourage them to attend book reading sessions in stores as well as buy a variety of different books for them. If you follow a reading culture at home, the child will definitely get hooked to it. Reading is a gift which will help him throughout his life.
Encourage the reading of classics and poetry. A poem or a song, sometimes, a character from a novel is someone children relate to. Reading is a hobby that lasts a lifetime and feeds the soul like nothing else. Teach them how every book is a conversation with a person and how they can reach out to other minds through them, overcoming time and space. Reading comprehension is perhaps the most important part of a child's education.
Make a connection between the world they see in books and the world in real. Bring them a book on animal zoos, for example and let them read it. Then take them to an actual zoo and encourage them to relate what they read in the book.
Getting them into the habit is all about making them read with you and boosting their confidence with every little 'phonetic' victory. Let your child enter the world of words willingly, instead of being dragged there. Therefore, the key is making it an exciting and fun-filled experience.
Once their inherent curiosity and thirst to understand is stimulated, reading will become an increasingly enjoyable experience. Reading books will give wings to their inherent burst of imagination and creativity. It is a satisfying job for a parent, as he sees a beautiful mind taking shape, through an entry into the mesmerizing world of books and ideas.