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The Laid Back Parents Guide To Teaching Your Child To Read
At first I thought of titling this article “The Lazy Parent’s Guide” but then I realized that most parents aren’t lazy, but they may have a slightly different philosophy about children and learning.
If you’re a big reader yourself or if you’re homeschooling, you’re probably concerned about how to teach your child to read. Reading is one of the most important skills a person can learn, and a great joy in life.
My laid-back methods of teaching a child to read:
1) Be a reader yourself
Children naturally want to copy adult behavior. If your kids see you often with your nose in a book, they will probably begin to wonder what is so interesting about this activity.
2) Read to your kids
This is probably a huge no-brainer. Read to your kids early and often. And don’t read in order to “teach your child how to read”. I believe that the best way to teach your child to read is to NOT teach your child to read!
Read to your child because you enjoy it and it’s fun. Some forward-thinking education experts believe that the teaching of reading is mostly what prevents reading. After all, don’t adults read as a means to an end? Because they want to learn something or because they enjoy the act of reading?
3) Don’t worry so much
Don’t worry about a right or wrong way of reading to your child.
If your preschool-age child isn’t interested in books yet, or won’t sit still for more than 30 seconds to finish a story, don’t fret.
If your 3 year old wants to point at pictures or turn to favorite pages and ask a million questions, don’t fuss.
Children learn in different ways than adults do and I don’t think anyone knows enough about the human mind to figure it all out. Make reading together pleasant, not stressful.
And don’t worry about how old your child is when they learn to read. If they’re reading at 3 or at 8, studies show that it makes little difference in their intelligence or ability by the time they reach middle school.
4) Pick topics that interest your child
My oldest son’s interest in reading really skyrocketed when we started the Series of Unfortunate Events books by Lemony Snicket. We would sit for hours and read aloud together when he was only 5 or 6. Visit Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events for more information about these books.
These books were technically above his age level, but I advise you to forget all that.
John Holt, the legendary educator and author, has been quoted as saying:
“It’s nice to have children’s books, but far too many of them have too much in the way of pictures. When children see books, as they do in the family where the adults read, with pages and pages and pages of print, it becomes pretty clear that if you’re going to find out what’s in those books, you’re going to have to read from that print. I don’t think there’s any way to make reading interesting to children in a family in which it isn’t interesting to adults.”
So let your child pick books from the library or bookstore and don’t concern yourself about whether the titles are “age appropriate”.
5) Strictly limit TV and other electronic media
A growing body of evidence is pointing to the fact that TV, video games and computer usage are hurting our children’s interest in reading. TV and video games rewire the brain and teach it to be lazy. Reading is much more work, because the mind can’t be passive while engaging in it (unlike plug-in entertainment). Kids who get bored are more likely to pick up a book.
Above all, have fun snuggling up with your child and enjoy reading together!