One of the first things a parent should teach his child is reading. Children who start reading at an early age do better in school and are more sensitive, analytical, and understanding. Reading also helps children develop their communication skills. Lastly, kids who start reading early often become more confident than those who do not. It’s no wonder why parents do their best to encourage and train their children to read early. It can be quite challenging, especially since most kids would rather play than read, but there are things that you can do to make the task easier for you.
1. Read to your child every day.
Before you teach your child to read, you first have to get him/her interested in reading. The best way to do this is to read to him/her regularly; if possible, every day. Once your child is exposed to reading, his/her interest will slowly build up and pretty soon, he/she will start asking you to help him/her learn to read. Of course, the stories that you read should be those that you child finds interesting. You can begin with an illustrated storybook or a book of nursery rhymes. As you go along, switch to more advanced storybooks. For babies up to one year, the ideal books are lullabies, song books, and board books. From one to three years, find good storyboard books, rhyming books, and song books. For children three to five years, choose picture books and alphabet books.
An important note: read to your child the way a storyteller does. Change your voice according to the character and include some action.
2. Interact with your child when you read a story or stories to him/her.
After reading a story to your kid, interact with him/her by asking simple questions. Ask about the characters in the story, especially those that he/she can easily relate with. Ask about what lesson he/she got from the story. Likewise, you should allow your child to ask questions. Doing this will train him/her to practice his/her critical thinking skills.
3. Keep reading.
Even when your child is already reading without your guidance, continue to read. Keep reading and be a good example to your child. This will encourage him/her also to keep reading. Even if you are not really a reader, take a few minutes off of your busy schedule and read where your kid can see you. It doesn’t matter what material you read – a book, comic book, graphic novel, magazine; anything that you find interesting. If you keep reading, your child will get the idea that even moms and dads need to read. That reading is something that everybody does.
4. Play letter and writing games with your child.
Letter or alphabet games and writing activities can also help your child develop and interest in reading. Once your child can identify letters, he or she can have fun forming words. Writing is also a good exercise because your child can learn how to create words and use these words to form a story. There are a lot of letter/alphabet games and fun writing activities available online. You can do one every week. Also, playing a game of rhymes can be a big help. Rhymes are good for teaching phonemic awareness, which is an important element in learning how to read.
5. As your child’s reading level progresses, do not hesitate to start giving whole stories to him/her.
Once your child’s reading level progresses, slowly introduce him/her to whole stories. This will prepare your child for what he/she will be given in school. While your child is learning, stay beside him/her. Be a good guide, but avoid spoonfeeding. Allow your child to learn on his/her own.
6. Slowly introduce different book genres to your child.
As your child continues to improve his/her reading skills, slowly introduce different book genres. Keep the focus on children’s books, though. So, aside from fantasy stories (fairy tales, make-believe stories, stories with talking animals and magic, etc.), you can expose your child to fiction, nonfiction, alphabet books, and song books.
7. Find time every week to read with your child and discuss the story afterwards.
Once a week, sit down and read a book with your child. Let your kid choose the book and take turns in reading it. After you’re done reading, let your child describe the story – the characters, where the story took place, and what happened. This will help your child develop more interest in reading. Think of it as a weekly storytelling session.