What are the best ways to ensure that your child becomes a good reader? What if you find that your elementary-aged child isn’t very interested in reading? Studies have shown that the primary indicator of your child’s reading success is the number of hours that you spend reading aloud to him or her. This should not end when your child begins to read independently; children’s reading skills continue to develop into the middle school years, and parents can help their child improve reading skills by performing the simple and enjoyable ritual of reading aloud each night. There are many other ways you can encourage your child to become a better reader, and it’s never too late to get started with any of these tips.
1. Set aside time for reading every day. This can include your time to read aloud to your child. For older children, take turns reading chapters or pages, depending on skill level. Establish family reading time when everyone reads something. If you designate a reading time, you will encounter less resistance as it becomes a habit. By making it a family activity, you are also modeling the value you place on reading.
2. Make reading fun. Use time in the car to listen to audio books. Go to the local library and check out books together. Or go see a local stage production based on one of your child’s favorite books. Visit local bookstores when authors come to read and share their books. These fun activities reinforce the idea that reading is enjoyable!
3. Provide a variety of reading materials. In addition to audio books, try books with CD’s, pop-up books, non-fiction books, magazines, and other types of reading material for your child. Rotate the books and put them in baskets around the house. Have your child help you read from cookbooks, road signs, maps, and weather reports.
4. Don’t use reading as a consequence; use it as a reward. Instead of saying your child needs to read for 20 minutes to get to watch a television program, try saying, “You did such a great job listening to directions today. You and I are going to have EXTRA reading time today! Isn’t that exciting?”
5. Partner with your child’s teacher. Ask your teacher how you can reinforce what is being done in the classroom. Give the teacher insight into how your child approaches reading at home. Work together to make sure that your child is on the right track. Don’t give up if you find some roadblocks along the way! It’s never too late to step in and help your child when it’s needed.
Remember, your child’s first chance to become a great reader is YOU. Next to you, your child’s school is a tremendous influence. Does your child’s school put the proper emphasis on reading great literature? What programs are in place if your child is having trouble? Does your school have high quality parent/teacher communication that helps foster a true partnership in your child’s reading success?