Reading is one of the most fundamental life skills you can teach your child. With reading almost all other learning is possible.
Before every beginning to teach your child to read, there are many foundational activities you can begin with. This include talking to and then with your child. Learning what your child is communicating with you even before s/he begins to say any words and carrying on this partially non verbal (on the part of your child) conversational dance. When you learn to listen, it can be an enormously rewarding experience for both you and your child. As your child learns and begins to pick up words, your conversation becomes more elaborate and sometimes more silly. It’s wonderful to have silly conversations with children, and sometimes even adults. You can also read to your child, allowing your child to get involved with the story, turning the pages, and perhaps even telling you what happens next or what they think might happen next. These activities are foundational for reading. Watching television does not take the place of conversations or reading, and certainly not as fun or relationship building.
As you undoubtedly noticed, I started this posting by talking about you teaching your child to read. As a parent, it is your responsibility to assure your children gain this crucial skill. While you may have teachers who will assist, the responsibility rests clearly on your shoulders. This does not mean that you have to pound it into your child at four, or three, or two years of age, some children are simply not ready at that age; however, that does not mean you can abdicate your responsibility to lay a firm foundation through conversation and your reading to your child. Nor does it allay your responsibility after your child begins school to assure your child can read.
Not too many months ago I watched a video where a mother in the Chicago area lamented that her ten year old daughter did not get accepted into a special school where she would have received better assistance. As she cried, she said her 10 year old didn’t even know how to spell a simple four letter word. While the theme of the story was on school choice, I wondered why the mother had not spent the time with her daughter to assure she had these skills.
Of course you might argue that the mother may not have the time or the knowledge herself. Perhaps this is true; but where was the effort to make the time and gain the skills.
Part of the problem I am certain, was the mother either considered it someone else’s responsibility or it hadn’t dawned on her that she might have the power or the ability to develop the skills and self-efficacy to take the lead herself.
I’m not suggesting that everyone take their children out of school and begin home schooling, what I am suggesting is that you change your paradigm and consider teachers your assistance or expert consultants; however, the business of educating your children, is yours.
As always, please use the Google Scholar and Google Parenting search engines for additional research and peruse the supplemental material linked below.
How to Teach a Child to Read in Steps
What is "reading readiness"?
What is reading readiness?
Read together 20 minutes every day.
Center for Early Literacy Learning - Adaptations Practice Guides
Parents need to read to their children