Reading is an important gift you can give your child

If your child learns that reading is an enjoyable experience rather than a “chore”, they will be motivated to learn the skill themselves.

 Reading to your children every day not only helps develop their language and literacy skills, but also strengthens your relationship with your children.

For children reading is the key to unlocking a world of learning. Something amazing happens the moment your youngster picks up a book.

Inside every book’s cover is a whole new universe just waiting to be discovered, from fantastic travels through unknown locations and epic adventures to teachings on kindness, courage, and compassion! Reading enhances your child’s creativity, raises their confidence, increases their vocabulary, encourages healthy brain development, and helps them cope with stress and anxiety.

Here are a few easy ways you can help grow and develop your child’s reading skills.

Developing reading skills in children

Reading to your child and getting them excited about books goes a long way to teaching them phonemic awareness (understanding sounds in spoken words) and an understanding of phonics (knowing that letters in print correspond to sounds). If children can’t master phonics, they will be more likely to struggle to read.

Literacy statistics in South Africa

If you can read this right now, you are more blessed than over 250 million children worldwide who lack basic literacy skills. Yes, it’s true: Even in this age of modern living, enlightenment, and technology, there are still people who can’t read, write, and learn. In South Africa, the statistics are bleak: According to nationally representative surveys, more than half (58%) of South African children do not learn to read fluently and with comprehension in any language by the end of Grade four. Recent studies suggest that as many as 20 to 30 percent of all school children lack basic reading ability.

Teach your child to read

The most unfortunate part of the above statistics is that it is so easily avoidable. All you need to do is make sure your children get off on the right foot when it comes to reading. While reading can be a complex process, the easiest way to help your child develop into a good reader is by starting them out as early as possible.  Since sound is a basic component of language, the more your child can hear the spoken language the easier it will be to translate it into the written word.

Speak clearly and properly

The first step toward teaching your child to read is speaking to them in a clear, precise manner. Though “baby talk” may seem cute when children are very little, it can actually help to slow their development of language skills. Your child is a small human being, you need to speak to him or her as such. The more you do so, the more capable they will be when it comes to understanding the language.

Choose age-appropriate books

Did you know that teaching a child to read begins at birth with the reinforcement of pre-literacy skills? Nonetheless, most kids will officially learn to read between the ages of 5 and 7. An important step in developing good reading skills is introducing your child to reading as early as possible. The sooner they can begin to make the connection between the spoken and written word, the better their reading comprehension is likely to be. Use age-appropriate books with lots of imagery and large print to engage the youngest readers and then increase the difficulty level as the child ages.

Fostering a love of books begins at home

Reading should never be seen as a “task” or “chore” that must be accomplished. Keep it as enjoyable as possible to keep your child’s interest engaged. Read with them, taking turns doing the reading, so that they can both pick up on your reading ability and have the satisfaction of showing off their own abilities. Make sure that they see you reading for pleasure yourself. The more they can make the connection between reading and having fun, the more likely they are to take to it and want to improve. You can even attach some kind of reward system to encourage them to continue reading and work to get better.

You’re A, B, Cs

As children are learning to read, make sure you reinforce the connection between the alphabet and the words they are seeing in books. The alphabet is the basic building blocks of language and the better their command of it, the better their reading comprehension will be.

The importance of sound

Sound is also important, so have them sound out words as they are learning them to help them make a connection between what they hear and what they see on the page.