Summer is fading and school supplies greet us in almost every store reminding us that change is in the air. Getting new kindergartners ready for school can be fun and filled with new challenges for your little one to tackle. Below we’ve listed 5 simple ways to help your new scholar become a reading rock star.
1. Be Patient (With Yourself and Your Child)
Just as every child is unique, every child begins their reading journey in their own unique way. Set any expectations about what is considered “normal” aside, and focus on reading fun. During this early learning stage be patient and discard any preconceived ideas about what he or she should already know.
Try setting up a special reading nook with pillows, blankets, and lots of fun books where you both can settle in and get cozy. Have camping headlamps or flashlights still available from summer trips? Turn them into “new reader headlamps” and settle in with a blanket and some one on one time.
Can you turn reading into a game? Try reading a sentence and point out a word in the sentence. Ask your child if they can think of another word that rhymes with the word you just read.
2. Redefine What Reading Really Means
“When you open a book with your children, you are opening the world for them” – Amanda Louie, Holy Cross Librarian
At Holy Cross, we instantly turn each student into a reader with three simple ways to “read”. Read the pictures, read the words, and retell the story. Are you “reading” if you look at the pictures but don’t know the words? Absolutely! Pictures tell stories and when an early reader opens a book and is actively engaged with what’s happening on a page, they’re reading! Students can also recognize words and even retell the story in their own words.
3. Generation, Gender and Bilingual Considerations Oh My!
Multi generational households are on the rise which can create the opportunity for invaluable bonding through reading. Grandparents can be positive role models and influences, and they can provide a sense of cultural heritage and family history (where they came from, traditions, about other people in the family).
Reading with other family members allows the child to develop and deepen other family relationships. It also gives grownups a chance to share their knowledge about a subject and teach children about a variety of subjects.
Encourage bilingual readers. If a child’s first language is NOT English, understanding how to make that transition successful is critical. The #1 mistake according to Holy Cross Learning Support Coordinator Teri-Kay Johnson is that parents stop reading in their native language. If the parents stop reading in their first language, the child will have a harder time learning to read in their second language and can hinder their ability to grow in their first language.
Why Reading to Kids In Your Home Language Will Help Them Become Better Readers
In addition, research shows that children benefit from having both parents read. Take turns!
It’s Time For Dad (Not Mom) To Take on Bedtime Stories
4. All Hands On!
The reality is not all children learn in the same way. Children who are kinesthetic learners learn best when they are moving, and find sitting still to be difficult. With early readers that are particularly squirmy, you might just find success utilizing kinesthetic techniques.
Try having your child trace letters using shaving cream, pudding, sand or even glue. Let them act out part of the story incorporating physical movement into what they are reading. Use books with lift the flap and touch and feel areas. Try reading AFTER physical activity.
5. Find Your Balance
Developing a love of reading comes from finding the right balance of fiction, non-fiction, books of interest, audio books, consistency, resources and the amount of time dedicated to reading.
Whenever possible, allow your child to take the lead on what interests him or her and find ways to encourage exploring those topics through literacy.