As a parent, you want your child to be a strong, confident reader. While some kids take to reading right away, others take a bit longer to build their skills and learn to enjoy reading.
If you have a reluctant reader, or if your child struggles, there are some things you can do to help boost their enthusiasm and skills, fostering a lifetime of reading. Establishing good habits now not only increases confidence but can help them with the skills that support success from preschool all the way to college and beyond. Working on these habits at home also reinforces what’s being taught at school, strengthening the connections between home and the classroom.
Reading Habits to Support in Your Children
To help build your child’s reading abilities, support and incorporate these habits into your daily routine.
One of the best ways to foster strong reading skills and habits is to read together. As children get older, they aren’t as likely to sit with you to listen to picture books, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop reading together. Grade school children still enjoy being read to, and older kids can sit with the family and read. Modeling good reading habits yourself, including reading for pleasure, is important, so let your kids see you reading, and talk about books, articles, or other things you’ve read to foster interest. However you decide to go about reading together, make it a part of every day, and have fun doing it.
Help Kids Make Connections
Educators note that good readers make connections with what they read. Statements like “This reminds me of … “ or “I can relate to this because ….” help bring reading to life and make it more relevant, while also helping with comprehension. Making connections to their own lives, to things they’ve read in the past, and to other things they’ve learned or are learning in school is an important part of close reading, as well. Close reading is one of the Common Core anchor skills for literacy in all grades, and making connections is one strategy that teachers use to develop it.
To help your child develop this habit, talk to them about their reading, and guide them toward making connections with their lives. For example, when reading about friendship, encourage them to think about their own relationships, and how they feel about characters’ interactions and behaviors.
Asking questions is another important part of close reading. Encourage your kids to ask questions about what they read. You can also ask questions to encourage comprehension and more in-depth thinking about what they read. Ask for a summary of the book they are reading, challenge them to predict what happens next, or ask for a review of what they are reading, with an explanation why they did or didn’t like what they read. The idea isn’t to quiz them on facts about the reading (although their answers can provide clues about comprehension) but rather to keep them engaged and excited about what they are reading, and really understand it rather than just reading the words to get the assignment done.
Keep Records of What They Read
Strong readers record what they read and keep track. As your kids read more, the number of books they’ve read will pile up, and it can be hard to remember what they read. Keeping a running list can be helpful for helping kids visualize their achievement, as well as setting goals. Some kids might even like creating their own review system, which can help them choose other books to read.
Read Every Day
Reading skills, like most everything, improve with practice. Reading every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes, can help improve their skills. Quality is better than quantity; some kids will simply read the words on the page for an allotted time, without really comprehending what they read. Encourage your kids to read slowly, and really focus on what they are reading, to get more out of the experience.
Finally, strong readers don’t skim over parts they don’t understand. They ask for clarification, look up unfamiliar words, and work to really understand what they read. Encourage your kids to do this, and give them the tools they need to really understand.
Becoming a strong reader isn’t easy for everyone, but it is possible. By supporting good habits and making reading a priority, your kids can become good readers and even enjoy reading.