Some final thoughts on Reading (although I may return to the topic again sometime).
Be sure to include some books in your routine that do not have printed words. Children can look at the pictures and help you tell the story. Talk about what is happening in each picture. Pause occasionally and predict what will happen next. Make connections to the story, “Has you ever seen a helicopter like that?” One of my favorite picture-only books is Good Dog Carl.
Eventually, when your child has the needed attention span, try books that do not have pictures. Talk to your child about what they ‘see’ in their minds as you read the words. Or, have them draw pictures to go along with the story.
Be sure to include some non-fiction literature as well. Informational books about animals or trucks can be just as stimulating and interesting for your child.
Establish reading as part of your daily routine and your child will be one step ahead of the game when school begins. Did you know that there are some children who begin Kindergarten not knowing how to turn pages of a book and who cannot recognize the front vs. back of a book?
Finally: Reading is a FREE activity! You don’t even have to buy a book. Visit your local library and borrow books for free. Or spend a little money at a Friends of the Library Book Sale, garage sales, or online book trading sites. Organize a book swap with your neighbors or other parents of young children.
Keep on Reading!
Tips for supporting your young child’s reading comprehension:
1. Have your child ‘read’ a story to you. This works especially well when it is a book that you have read to him 159 times already.
2. After reading a story, ask what they remember about it. Talk about your favorite part. Even if your child cannot voice their own thoughts yet, they are getting good modeling from you. me: “What did you like best about that story?” him: silence me: “I really liked the doggie in the story.” him: silence me: “Remember that day when our doggie ran around in circles just like the doggie in the book?” him: smile me: “We were laughing and laughing, just like the little boy in the story.” him: “Molly ran round and round and round!” me: “Yeah, she did!” him: “Read the story again.”
3. If your child has enough words, have him tell Daddy (or anyone – his stuffed bear) about the story. Remember to model doing this yourself for a while first. Even if it sounds silly to you to tell your spouse about the Pokey Little Puppy and his adventures.
4. Make connections to the book. For example, if you are reading a book about baby animals, remind your child of when you saw the baby animals at the zoo. If you read a book about a boy who likes trucks, ask your child if he likes trucks too.
5. Make predictions. Pause throughout the story. Ask your child what he thinks will happen next. Even if they can’t respond, model making predictions yourself. “I think Thomas is going too fast on the tracks. I think he will crash! What do you think will happen?”
I have probably said this before, but, being a former teacher, I feel very strongly about it. Read to your child every day! Children who are read to at home will perform better in school on down the road. Take the time now to read to your child. Even 5 minutes a day will help them to develop their own reading skills.
Infants may not understand the words, but they will certainly understand the soothing sound of your voice while you read to them. At this age you are already beginning to model reading fluency to them even if you don’t know it! As your baby grows, begin to choose books that have bright pictures and easy cadences. Rhyming and pattern books are good to start with too.
Older babies may start to grab at the book or even eat it! Don’t worry, keep modeling good reading. You can give them a board book or vinyl book to hold/play with while you read to them. When babies start to reach the toddler phase, they may appear to not be interested in books or sitting still. You can, however, still model good reading to them. Sit and read your own book, magazine or newspaper while they are playing. Read out loud just one of their stories and then go back to reading your own material. Read to your child in little spurts. One short book before each sleep time or maybe even a short book while they are eating a meal.
As your toddler begins to show more interest in books, let them choose what they want you to read to them. You may find yourself reading the same things over and over. If this happens, after a while, pause at familiar lines and see if they can ‘fill in the blank’ for you. To vary the reading selection use the ‘you pick one book and I’ll pick one book’ routine. While you are reading the same book for the fifth time in a day for the fourteenth day in a row, remember that one day you will probably walk into the room to see your child ‘reading’ that book aloud by himself! And all because you read it to him so many times.
When your child is old enough and has the attention span for it, try short chapter books. Read one chapter or more per day. Continue to read to your child (even for just 5 minutes per day) as your child progresses through school. One day they will probably be too ‘old’ for that. Treasure this special time that you have with them and love of reading it will develop.
It is easy to have your kids be involved in the thank you note process, no matter what the age.
For the very young: Write thank yous for the gifts your young children have received on note paper made from their own drawings. Let kids fingerpaint or color on blank notecards or on regular paper that can be cut down or folded to fit in an envelope.
For toddlers and pre-schoolers: Let your child ‘write’ the thank you themselves. Then ‘translate’ the scribbles into readable English. If the kids are starting to write their own names, let them sign the thank you note.
For primary ages: Kids can draw a picture of the gift (wearing the sweater from Grandma or playing with the toy from Uncle Matt) and you can write the thank you words they dictate to you. By this age, though, many children should be able to start writing sentences. A simple Thank You Frame (see below) is appropriate for this age.
For older elementary kids and above: By the time your child is in fourth grade an above, they should be capable of writing thank you notes themselves. One strategy for getting kids to get thank you notes done is to not let them use the gift until the thank you has been written. Another idea is to set aside one morning or afternoon for thank you writing. Put all the supplies that kids will need (pens, pencils, paper, envelopes, stamps, addresses, gift lists) on the dining table. Sit down as a family and have everyone complete their holiday thank you notes. You can do yours at the same time and be a good model for your kids!
All Ages: Take a digital picture of your child with or without the gift and attach it to an email to the giver. Or print the picture on regular paper and use that as your stationary.