The best parenting advice you can implement is to ensure that your children learn to read and become decoding experts. The value of literacy should never be underestimated in a world suffering from information overload. Learning how to read and learning to read well is a gift that can never be taken away.
Children need to hear words to tune their ears
- Read stories to them from a young age
- Listen to them read books to you aloud
- Engage them in conversations
We literally need to talk our children clever!
Learning to read
This happens between the ages of 2 and 8 where children are acquiring the skills to help them recognise letters of the alphabet, read them, write them and blend them. Shape and colour games are very important at this stage as they help children work out similarities and differences. The lines contained in shapes (square, triangle, rectangle, diamond and circle), form the basis of every letter of the alphabet. There are dozens of perceptual skills that need to be acquired in the early years to help a child learn how to read. Support your child’s educators by reinforcing skills at home.
Reading to learn
From age 9, basic reading skills can now be consolidated to enable children to read for meaning. This is the exciting stuff that unlocks the world for your child.
Keep encouraging and supporting them on their reading journey whether in real books or on a computer or tablet.
Test their comprehension
Make sure your children understand what they are reading. Can they derive meaning from it or are they just reading words? This is the value of learning comprehension skills at school. When you are reading a story together, check to see if they are really listening by asking questions about the content.
In a world of information overload, good comprehension skills are vital to critically assess the quality of sources of information and to be able to rapidly find information.
Tell it in your own words
When children tell you about what they are reading, encourage them to try and put it in their own words so that they develop the skill of paraphrasing.
High frequency words
The more familiar children are with the 220 most frequently used words (a list known as the Dolch word list) the more fluid their reading will be. Here is an activity you can do with children, to help them spot these words:
Give them a newspaper article and a pen. They circle all the ‘and’ words, then ‘the’ words, ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’, ‘them’ etc.
Word power as a sign of intelligence
Word power enables children to express their innate intelligence. It is one thing to have good ideas and quite another to be able to communicate them. Help your children to do both by ensuring that they learn to read. Word power is king!
Creative parenting expert, inspirational speaker and co-author of Tech-Savvy Parenting, Future-proof Your Child and Easy Answers to Awkward Questions