Perhaps its because I was a teacher before my Mom life or perhaps its because I enjoy reading myself. Whatever the case- I have always LOVED reading with my babies. They pop out (well- they are pulled out via c-section but you get the idea) and they meet mom-then they meet Dad- and then they meet Dr. Seuss. I usually try to save the book for those hours after all the visitors have gone and its just me and my sweet baby. I smell them and snuggle them and we read. Which leads me to my first tip on how to raise a reader:
Babies are tiny sponges. They seem to soak up whatever information is presented to them. The results of a conclusive study from 2003 shows that 86% to 98% of the words used by each child by the age of three were derived from their parents vocabularies. (1) This information is critical as parents because the effects are long reaching. The less words a parent speaks/reads to their child the smaller the child’s vocabulary. Which leads to a deficit as the child enters school and makes it significantly harder to catch up. So much so that it has been labeled the WORD GAP in Americas schools. (2) Not only does reading increase a child’s vocabulary/word skills but it also provides a bonding time between parent and child. The effects of that time are immeasurable.
MAKE THEM BELIEVE-
I spent the first four years of my career as a special education teacher and then the next four as a reading tutor. It took me two years as a tutor to understand the reading “secret”. This secret has worked on my two oldest kids and on countless other students throughout the years. You have to make them believe. Make the child feel like they are the best reader in the entire world. Even if they just know a few letters. Praise them with “you are on your way to being an amazing reader!”
Here are a few ideas i’ve used.
-Best reader badges and trophies. I buy the cheap ones at the dollar store. They don’t care. You should see them receive the coveted award in front of their peers/friends/family.
-Have them call and read to grandparents or family members.
-Praise them in front of people.
-Introduce them as your child (the very best reader you know)
-PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE
This idea is so simple but the results are INCREDIBLE. Think how your viewpoint of yourself would change if you walked into work every day and your boss said- “here comes the very best employee I have.” You just might care a little more-try a little harder- put in a little extra effort.
MAKE READING FUN-
Sit down with your child- maybe not on the couch- how about under a table or in a fort instead? Have a read-a-thon (and even bring snacks!) Read on a swingset. Read with your pets. Read loud and read softly. Have a reading fairy where your kids can leave out books they’ve finished and the reading fairy will replace them. Make a game of it- Who can read the fastest? The slowest? In a grandma voice? Like a lion?… Whatever you can do to make reading fun- it will pay in dividends in years to come.
Quality reading time is so important that “promoting early literacy development in the pediatric primary care setting was a resolution at the 2008 AAP Annual Leadership Forum.” (3) Which means that pediatricians are now spending time educating parents about the benefits of reading during office visits. If it’s so important than we might as well make it a fun experience in our homes right? How incredible would it be to raise little people that had a love for learning and many memories of stories read on parents’ laps.
Teaching your child to read is an amazing gift for their future but its also a gift for us moms. IT’S THE GIFT OF TIME. Every time I pick up a Dr. Seuss book I can smell my tiny newborns and see their little bodies. I see the forts throughout the years- the bed time stories- the read-a- thons. I see my children and the time we have spent together. ONE FISH..TWO FISH..RED FISH…..GIANT MOM TEAR!
*I have spent a lot of time working with different reading curriculum/books to find the very best one for my students. This one HERE is my favorite and the one I use with my own kids. It’s simple and easy to use! Try it and let me know if you like it!