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A couple of weeks ago we posted our first Springer Facebook poll to see what topics our readers are most interested in. This time our readers showed interest in tips for reading with young children to boost literacy skills. We are very excited that our readers are as interested in early literacy as we are here at Springer! As the blog post last week described, early intervention is key for success for struggling readers, and parents can certainly have a hand in building early literacy skills.

First of all, it is never too early to read to your child. Reading with infants and toddlers exposes them to new vocabulary and background knowledge, which can boost comprehension. In addition, reading to young children fosters a love of books, as they see it as a fun way to spend time with mom or dad. Finally, as children get older and enter their preschool years, they will understand that words on a page have meaning and will be excited to start to learn letter names and sounds. When reading with infants and young toddlers, choose short books, go slowly and use good expression in your voice. Point out the common vocabulary words in the story, such as animals and items around the house. Also, be prepared to read books over and over! Repetition will increase comprehension in a child of any age.

As your child enters preschool, begin to introduce some comments and questions into your reading time. Point out interesting things in the pictures, and ask questions such as:

  • Who is in the story?
  • Where is the story happening?
  • What might happen next?
  • How does the character feel?

It is also important to describe the meaning of new and unfamiliar words to continue to expand your child’s vocabulary. You can start to talk about the books and new vocabulary words at other times. Help your child make connections between what you have been reading in the books and what she sees in her own world. Again, repetition of your child’s favorite books help her increase comprehension and learn patterns in the book, such as rhymes and repeated word or phrases. Allow your child to keep picking the same books over and over, even if you are getting just a little tired of the same plot!

As your child approaches school age, he should be starting to notice familiar letters in print. Use short words in the book to model reading the words aloud. You can stretch words, such as “cat,” by pointing to the letters and saying the sounds, “c-a-t.” Ask your child what word he hears. In kindergarten and first grade, your child may start to bring home books to read. You may read these books with him, but do not forget to continue to read aloud books with more advanced vocabulary and concepts to continue to boost background knowledge. You may also start to ask more advanced questions, such as:

  • Who are the characters?
  • What is the problem?
  • Why do you think he did that?

If your child is reading to you, it is okay to gently correct her reading. Sometimes young children guess at words, and you can point out the letters and sounds in a missed word to help boost her reading skills. However, you may want to let some mistakes slide, as your young child is just learning! Even if she struggles to learn to read, following these reading tips will foster a love of books and motivate her to work hard to be able to read on her own.

Blogger Stephanie Dunne, Ed.S., is the Center Director at Springer School and Center. Prior to coming to Springer, Stephanie practiced as a school psychologist in public and private schools for ten years. If you have questions, please contact Stephanie at sdunne@springer-ld.org.

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