Helping Your Child Find Reading Success
We’ve got good news though – developing your child’s early literacy skills can be much easier than it sounds. Without getting into too many details or overly dense activities, there are three simple things you can do with your child to further their literacy and reading development:
- Talk to them.
- Read to them.
- Sing to them.
You might already be doing some of these, but it’s necessary to reinforce these concepts in young learners. Birth through age five is a pivotal time in a child’s development. By setting up the groundwork in phonological awareness and language comprehension, children can be much more prepared to enter school.
Talking with Your Children
Research by Gough and Tunmer called The Simple View of Reading states that reading comprehension is the product of language comprehension and word recognition.
To put it simply, word recognition involves the skill of understanding letter-sound relationships and letter patterns to identify written words. Language comprehension is simply the ability to understand spoken language. Achieving mastery in these two components takes direct, explicit, and structured instruction that IMSE is fighting to get in every classroom.
However, as parents, you can have an enormous impact on your child’s development, especially in language comprehension. By telling family stories and having meaningful conversations with your children, you are letting them understand and begin to comprehend the meaning of words and sentences. You are also building on their experiences.
Using vocabulary words, having conversations, and asking questions are things you should be doing on a daily basis. Encourage your children to speak in complete sentences. Even playing the alphabet game while driving in the car is beneficial.
Sometimes it can be easy to overlook the fact that children need to be able to comprehend oral language before they can comprehend written language. Even the best reader can run into problems if their language comprehension is below average. The more you can increase their life experiences, the better.
Working on language comprehension with your children will help ensure that when books and instruction make the transition to more complex vocabulary words, they will have a better chance of understanding. Simply talking with your children can really make a huge impact on developing language comprehension.
Reading to Your Children
Reading to your children not only helps with language comprehension and word recognition, but it helps them become more comfortable and confident with a book in their hands. Something as small as knowing how to hold a book and having that experience will raise confidence and self-esteem in the classroom.
Things that seem simple like knowing where the front cover of the book is, turning the pages correctly, identifying where the text starts, and pointing to individual words are all things that do not come naturally to some children.
Sit and read with them. Use your finger or your child’s finger to track the words that you’re reading. Once you’ve finished a book, ask them questions about the story to test and strengthen their comprehension level.
Certain activities you can use with your child include:
- Prediction: Try to make predictions about the story and then read to see if your predictions were right. It helps activate prior knowledge, previewing, and overviewing. Start by looking at the pictures and asking, “What do you think this story will be about?” During the story, ask, “What do you think will happen next?”
- Think-Aloud: This involves you and your child making your thoughts audible as you are reading the story. Think-alouds help improve your child’s comprehension both when they engage in the activity themselves and also when the parent routinely thinks aloud while reading. For example, say, “I see that the boy looks sad. I wonder why he might feel that way.”
- Summarization: Teaching your child to summarize the story or text they just read is a great way to improve their understanding. The ability to filter through large blocks of text, differentiate what’s important and what’s not, and then blend those ideas is a very challenging skill to achieve. Start by just asking your child to tell you about the story.
- Questioning: Asking your child questions about their reading (before, during, or after) is another great way to engage with them. It can be a simple question such as, “Who was this story about?” You can also ask more challenging questions like, “What would you have done if you were Goldilocks?” Relate it to their own life, “This reminds me of the time we went to Aunt Susie’s house. Do you remember that? She didn’t want us to sit in her chair either.”
The local library is a great resource for young learners. Not only do they have books for all ages and skill levels, but they are always hosting events or workshops for young children.
Singing with Your Children
You might already be doing this, but this is a great way to develop phonological awareness in early learners.
For a quick refresh, phonological awareness is the understanding that our spoken language is made up of words and that our words are made up of individual units of sounds called phonemes (Zgonc, 2010).
Singing is a fun and effective way of teaching children new words and sounds. The repetition of lyrics also helps boost their listening skills.
One of the components of phonological awareness is rhyming. This includes the ability to recognize rhyme, complete rhyme, and produce rhyme.
Singing is a great way to help develop this skill. When your child can begin to identify the rhyme in a song, they can then begin to predict patterns in oral language. Lullabies, songs, and rhymes help prepare a child’s ear, voice, and brain for language.
In fact, a recent study presented to the Cognitive Neuroscience Society stated that not only do lullabies comfort babies, they also help with cognitive development.
“We are seeing relationships between rhythm and language abilities, attention, development, hearing acuity, and even social interactions,” said study co-author Jessica Grahn, a cognitive neuroscientist and professor at the University of Western Ontario.
Oral language is one of the first steps in early literacy development. Ensuring there isn’t a drastic vocabulary deficit and developing phonological awareness are things you can be fostering right from birth.
Talking, reading, and singing with your children have all been shown to have a positive impact on literacy development. Not only that, but it helps enhance the bond you have with your child and can improve their communication.
IMSE believes that all children should be able to read. To achieve this end, IMSE wants to bring Orton-Gillingham to all educators to give children the best literacy instruction possible.
Learn more about what you can do to improve literacy for all using the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education’s Orton-Gillingham training.
Please connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to get tips and tricks from your peers and us. Read the IMSE Journal to hear success stories from other schools and districts, and be sure to read the OG Weekly email series for refreshers and tips.