I wrote a post on early literacy years ago when Brooks was around three or four and Case was still a toddler. I found that post the other day and realized how far my boys have come as readers. The post included six tips to foster literacy in children. I also realized now that I have more knowledge as a parent, I should tweak the six tips and provide them again for parent who have children under age five. Over the past several years, I’ve learned how significantly important a parent’s role can be when it comes to early reading development.
The opening paragraph in my original blog post went like this:
‘Both times I was home on maternity leave, I watched entirely too much TV. It seemed like every five minutes, an infomercial was popping up about teaching my baby to read. Apparently, babies under age two are “reading” via the use of certain programs. Hmmm… I wasn’t sure about that. As a new mom, I got a little panicked thinking, “Should I order one of these programs?” “Should my baby learn to read before he can talk? That seems odd.” “Are other kids going to be reading Harry Potter by age 3?” I came to the same conclusion with both baby boys. I don’t care if my baby learns to read years before what’s developmentally appropriate, but I do care that he loves books and grows up loving to read.’
It’s nostalgic to go back and read that and to now see my second grader ravenously reading Harry Potter every day. Time really does fly.
We’ve always known the brain develops most rapidly before the age of five, so it’s imperative that we as parents work hard to expose our little ones to books, vocabulary and enriching life experiences. Parents can’t wait in hopes the kindergarten teacher will do all of the work.
Below are six easy and inexpensive ways to foster early literacy and a love of literature in your own home.
1). Be a model reader. Our children absorb everything we do, the good and the bad. If Mommy and Daddy are reading, they will become curious about books. This curiosity will peak their interest in reading. Even though Brooks is now eight-years old and has been able to read for a while, he still likes when we read together, me reading my book and him reading his. When we returned from Disney World last month, I bought him a kid-friendly Walt Disney biography and myself the adult version. We’ve had fun reading the two books and talking about the amazing man that created the Disney empire.
2). Increase vocabulary and background knowledge by constantly talking to your children about the world around them. Expose them to as many different experiences as possible.This will allow them to make connections when reading and enhance comprehension.
3). Be spontaneous and creative. Read at the park. When on a summer trip to the beach or a lake, designate an hour every afternoon to turn off the technology and read. Listen to books on tape/CD when in the car for long periods of time. Give them bookstore gift cards so they can pick out their own books. Always let them know the feel a book in their hands, but also take advantage of virtual literature.
4). Always have books around. Visit libraries and bookstores often so that your children can see people of all races, ages, and socioeconomic statuses reading books. This will teach them that reading is cool beyond their own home. Furthermore, The amazing public library system that we have in our country makes it impossible for parents to say, “We just don’t have access to books.” Yes, you do! We all do. A library card is free, the books are free, learning is free, yet so extremely important.
5). Watch your children closely and know them as readers. What do they enjoy reading? When do they enjoy reading? Are they struggling with a reading skill? Do they favor a particular genre? All of this information will help you foster a love of books and reading in your child. It will also help you and others when buying books for your children as gifts.
6). Implement early intervention, if needed: If you feel like there’s something off with your child’s progress, dig deeper and inquire further. As with all things in life, early intervention is key. Whether it’s in the early years with language development or in kindergarten with phoneme knowledge, figure out what’s going on and provided your child the correct intervention.
Children don’t particularly need materialistic items or an overbooked schedule, but they do need are knowledge and a love of learning. Tehse things are intangible and will last a lifetime. We can give these to them so easily and freely. The reward for both parents and children is immeasurable.