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John Monfredo: Literacy Tips for Parents

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Literacy is fundamental for learning in school and in life. It has an impact on an individual's ability to participate in society and to understand important public issues.  It provides the foundation upon which skills needed in the labor market are built.

Therefore, the ability to read is vital, for it paves the way to success in school, which can build self-confidence and motivate your child to set high expectations for life.  As a parent, you are your child's first and most important teacher. When you help your child learn to read, you are opening the door to a world of books and learning.

Many parents ask what their role is in helping their children to read. The following are some suggestions for you to consider:

READ TO YOUR CHILDREN: Research has shown that parents who read to their children, provide many books and magazines, and make use of the Public Library, help their children develop a love for reading.  When reading to your child, stop as you read to ask questions about the pictures, characters or events in the story.  You might also have your child dramatize part of the story or retell his or her favorite part. Try to read with your child as often as possible. It's the best thing you can do to help him or her learn at school! It also allows you to spend time together in an enjoyable way and to build a strong and healthy relationship.

LISTEN TO YOUR CHILD READ: As your child learns to read, listen to him or her read aloud. Reading to you gives your child a chance to practice and to improve his or her reading skills. As you listen to your child, remember that your reactions are important. Above all, listen without interrupting. Be enthusiastic and praise your child as often as you can. If possible, be specific with your praise so that your child knows what he or she is doing well.

READING CAN BE A FAMILY ACTIVITY:  Spending time with word games, stories, and books will help your child to build a rich vocabulary by reading and talking about new words.

TALK TO YOUR CHILD:  Oral language is the foundation for reading. Listening and speaking are a child's first introduction to language. Talking and singing teach your child the sounds of language, making it easier for him or her to learn how to read.

SHOW INTEREST IN YOUR CHILDREN’S READING: Children want you to note their achievements.  Look at their school papers and have them practice the skills they are learning at home.  Have your children read anything and everything to you.

DEVELOP THE LIBRARY HABIT:  Take advantage of library story hours, book clubs, and plays, in addition to checking out books for your child and yourself.  In Worcester, check the Mobile Library (library on wheels) schedule and visit it often.  The library offers you the best deal ever for after signing up for a library card you can borrow all the books that you want to read.

EXPERIENCES MAKE A DIFFERENCE:  Children develop concepts by experiencing many situations. The child who has visited a fire station forms a mental image of what fire engines are like based upon his experience.  Extend upon those images with books, magazines, charts, posters, etc.  about the subject.  Compare and contrast the actual experience with that portrayed in the printed material.

SURVEY FIRST:  Develop the habit of surveying materials before reading them by noticing the pictures, major headings, or perhaps even reading the summary of the book jacket, if there is one.  By surveying, the child is developing a frame of reference for what they will be reading.  This, of course, helps them develop purposes for reading and aids concentration.

FOLLOW DIRECTIONS: Have your child assist you in putting together a toy or model.  Ask them to read some directions or point to the picture that illustrates the direction you are reading.  Try to have your child figure out the directions to a new game independently.  These activities not only help your child find important details, but emphasize that reading can be very useful.

SUBSCRIBE TO CHILDREN’S MAGAZINES:  Many birthday and holiday presents are put aside soon after the special days are over, but for a fairly reasonable price you can get a magazine subscription that will provide enjoyment for your child all year long.  Most of the magazines for preschool and elementary school children include many reading activities in addition to good articles.

HOW TO:  Many “how to” books are available for doing such things as cooking, fixing, playing sports and sewing.  Read them to your child or have him or her read them himself.

AVAILABILITY:  The most important fact in getting children to read is the availability of reading materials in the home.  Keep newspapers, magazines, books and any other printed material available in various places in your home.  Let your children see you read rather than always saving your reading time until they are asleep and the house is quiet. Children learn from role models.  Be a role model as a reader for you can stress the importance of reading by reading.

If English is not your child's first language, these suggestions can still be of help. It is important to read to your child in his or her first language. Having a strong grasp of the first language will make it easier for your child to learn English.

In conclusion, reading together is a time for closeness and cuddling – another way to show your love as a parent, grandparent, or caring adult.  For children lucky enough to have parents who read to them, the memory is lasting and their love for books and reading lifelong.   Good luck, and let me know how it turns out!


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