How can I develop my child’s reading ability?

Daniel Curry, Director & Principal, Vega Schools

A strong reading ability is critical for academic success. Being able to read and decode text is essential in every area. Whether from a book, magazine, newspaper, or online text, a child’s ability to read with fluency and comprehension is required for learning.

Reading is a skill, and as such, can and should be practiced. As parents, we want to encourage reading; however, it is important that we develop a love and appreciation for reading in our children rather than them seeing it as an arduous task. There are a few practical ways to put our children on the road to becoming a strong reader.

Kids will mimic their elders as they read

First, small children are excellent mimics. They learn through copying our language, our behaviours and our habits. In the same way, children growing up in a home where they see people enjoying books, they will become interested. We are the first and most important role models for our children in these very early years.

Read aloud to the child

Parents can begin regularly reading aloud to their children. Even if they don’t understand, they develop a positive relationship with reading and see it as a valued activity. There should be rich reading materials readily available.

Join a Community library

Reading aloud should continue even as children start attending school. The best schools in Gurgaon will have lending libraries with plenty of age-appropriate books, and will have regular opportunities for students to visit and check out books. Books should be chosen by the student based on their interests, and the librarian or class teacher can help with scaled reading materials. Students should be reading books that are not easy but not too challenging. This will stretch their vocabulary and help their confidence in tackling new materials.

Ensure reading materials are at home and easily accessible

Schools and parents should ensure that children have plenty of recreational reading materials in addition to academic work. Reading can become an enjoyable activity, a break from the routine, and allow children freedom of expression, increase their creativity, and expose them to new ideas. Along the way, they begin to read more and more fluently. They are regularly exposed to proper grammar, spelling, and written expression.

Progression is important

Young readers will naturally move on from simple text with lots of pictures to more text-heavy material. Reading comics or picture books is fine - it still sparks interest in reading. However, it shouldn’t end there. For example, a popular book series is the annual Guinness Book of World Records. It has lots of pictures and text on a variety of topics and interesting facts. If a child focuses on an item about climbing Mt Everest, they can be encouraged to read more about mountain climbing, or about the Himalayas.

Buy books based on the child’s interests

Some children naturally prefer non-fiction, while others like fiction. Get to know your child’s interests and build on those. Give them regular opportunities to visit a bookstore for browsing and buying. It will be a good investment!

Finally, as mentioned above, we create a culture of reading in our homes when our children see us regularly enjoying a good book. Schools will also have reading time, sometimes called DEAR time (Drop Everything And Read). Creating the right environment at both school and home yields great results.

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