Read with Your Child Every Day
Episode #3 of the course Helping your child become a better student by Rebecca Jordan
Yesterday, you learned how to form a partnership with your child’s teacher in order to make your child a better student. Today, we will focus on how reading together every day can mold your child into a successful, independent student for years to come.
There have been countless educational studies to show the impact of reading on mastery in all types of subject areas. During my professional career, there is one book that comes to mind when thinking of how I am most effective in creating lifelong readers in my classroom: The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. In her book, she outlines the steps an educator can make to awaken a love of reading in every student. But what comes at the core of this is modeling that love of reading in yourself. Let’s say that reading is not your favorite activity, and maybe you missed the boat on tucking your child in with a bedtime story at a young age. IT IS NOT TOO LATE—fake it till you make it. Reading to, reading with, and listening to your child read are extremely valuable activities, and the investment you make now will pay dividends in the future.
Provide access to texts. Living in a print-rich environment isn’t limited to people with a lot of disposable income. Public libraries have all kinds of programs catered to readers of all ages and are a great way to show your child that they have unlimited access to books! Having a lot of books at home at your fingertips is extremely effective as well, and you can always purchase those from thrift stores, secondhand, and Goodwill for very low prices.
Reading TO your child. You don’t have to read The Odyssey in order to use this time effectively, you don’t even have to read Dr. Seuss, but reading things you see as you drive, labels on food containers, recipes, the mail, etc. can teach your child that we live in a world of print, and the more they learn, the more they will have access to!
Reading WITH your child. Most upper elementary age children have some type of reading assignment every night. Even if they are beyond the age of reading aloud to you, take the time to sit down with them while they are working and read! Read a book, read a magazine, read something for work. Do not read Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, as tempting as it may be to unwind after a long day. Perhaps my favorite memory in my parenting life thus far is when my first-grader hopped into the beach chair beside me and began reading a book from her very own beach bag. The simple act of reading simultaneously with your child models that this is a positive way to spend your time together or apart.
Listen to your child read. Not only are you teaching them to feel comfortable reading aloud (#LifeSkill), but you are making them feel valued and heard. On top of this, you can address any misconception they might have regarding word and letter sounds.
Ask your child about what they read. Starting a conversation about what your child has read will increase their comprehension, train their brain to retain information that they read, and teach them how to talk about books. It also strengthens the bond between parent and child by having one more facet of your relationship.
If your child is a reluctant reader, this will all be difficult at first. You must provide lots of choice for them as far as book selection, and make it fun! Do not turn this into a chore you need to check off of your to-do list. You can also multi-task! I often listen to my daughter read as I am making dinner or cleaning up the kitchen. The common denominator in the three lessons we have had together so far is that showing your child that you value their learning and education in a supportive and consistent manner will cause them to do the same.
Tomorrow, our lesson will focus on another core subject area—math! You will be learning how to show your child how math fits into everyday life in order to increase number sense and success in the subject.
The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller
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