5 Tips on how to improve the reading habits of young readers @home and long journeys:
- Use image rich texts (devices are great for reading stories too).
- Become a “talking family.”
- Use subtitles with ALL screen time.
- Look out for how words are used.
- Keep using your home language.
- Use image rich texts
The idea behind this is you want to provide as much stimulus as possible for young readers, which will help them to develop their imagination and learn new words. Ask your children questions like these:
- A) What can you see in the picture?
- B) How does it make you feel?
- C) What are they doing?
Be really specific about what you are describing, for much younger readers, they may not have all of the vocabulary (yet), but don’t worry about it- just tell them if they do not know it. Like this:
“I can see a little, dark brown dog.”
They will eventually start mirroring your use of language. Devices are great for reading stories too…
2. Become a “talking family.”
I know that after a long day at home or at work, it can be quite tiring to even consider talking more… It is definitely worth it. Being a “talking family” is similar to committing to being a healthy family, in that, you choose to talk more than the average family and you are intentional about it. Even though it may seem like ONE MORE THING TO DO, it can actually lower the stress levels in your children, and it is one simple way to fill their love tank with words of affirmation.
Something like this:
“How was your day, darling?”
“It was fine, but I hurt myself.”
“Well, I know how brave you are, but tell me what happened…”
How much better do you feel after shows you or tells you how important your feelings are?
Now, this is the fun part- the more your children hear you speak, guess what happens? Their vocabulary will improve over time and they will be exposed to more words. It makes sense doesn’t it?
3.Use subtitles with ALL screen time, including and not limited to FAMILY MOVIE NIGHTS. Even if your other half complains…
Now, I am sure you have heard this one before. But I promise you, it really works…even on adults. Even though subtitles can be a little distracting, you are normalising reading. For new readers, this is helpful because the more words they see, the more words they will see. Make sense? It also means that if your children see words they do not understand, they can ask you. Watching TV then becomes interactive, engaging, and guilt free for you.
I am not suggesting that we let our children watch television all day, but what I am saying is that we can use almost every opportunity to help our children learn to read.
4.Look out for how words are used around the house, to and from home and daily.
Words are everywhere, cereal boxes, recipe books, ingredients list, receipts, bus stops, names of roads… I could go on.
The exciting part is that as go about your day with your little ones, you can share what you know. This will put them at ease an actually help you build bridges for more conversations about learning later on. What we want is to have our children becoming more and more confident in how they express themselves through speech. We can actually make it easier for them, by modelling (showing them how it is done) and by avoiding telling them to…”Keep quiet!”
5.Keep using your home language (especially if English is not your first language) and compare its counterparts in English. “Hast du hunger? “Are you hungry?” Hunger=hungry.
This is a serious amount of fun if you love words and you are willing to share another language with your child at home. I think we sometimes worry that children will be overwhelmed by lots of different words or languages, but the most important thing is to adapt your language to your child’s level of understanding. If your child is only using 3-4 words, then meet them where there are and then extend their sentences: for example,
Milo: Milo hungry.
Mum: Milo is hungry. Where is Milo?
(if your child can respond by saying: here he is OR I’m here)
Response 1: Milo is over there. Milo is hungry.
Response 2: I’m here. (You can the model- I’m hungry)
This could actually become a little name until your child is able to respond correctly.
How is this related to languages? Well… if you do speak another language, then you could teach them how to say: I am hungry.
I am hungry (English) =Ich habe Hunger (German)
Now, I know this is not for everyone, but it is definitely worth exploring if you are a linguaphile.
That’s for today!
But I would love to hear from you! Tell me how you got on with reading or speaking this week.
Leave a positive comment below.
Get in touch here firstname.lastname@example.org
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Have a great week.
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