A mom came up to me in the schoolyard this morning.
She said she wanted some help getting her child reading. Her son is six years old and in grade one.
He’s frustrated because he’s not picking up reading a bit faster – so he’s clearly motivated to read.
I know there are lots of other parents out there in the same dilemma.
Here’s some basic advice to start with:
1) Most kids in grade one aren’t reading by October. In any grade one class, you’ll find a very wide range – from kids who can’t yet sound out the letters, to (a very few) kids who are reading books by themselves. So don’t panic.
2) Read to your child every night. Every single night. Studies show that this is the number-one most important thing.
3) Scatter books all around the house. In the bathroom. On his bed. On the floor. In the kitchen. On the couch. In the basement. On your bed. Have them available everywhere.
4) Read, yourself. Let him see you and your husband and other children reading - a lot.
The above steps create a “reading environment” for your child. It’s very important that your home be a reading environment.
The next step, at his age, is to make sure he knows his alphabet and the sounds each letter makes. There are lots of fun ways of doing that, including making up songs about each letter (B says Buh!) to simply pointing to pictures and saying “What letter does dog start with? Duh – Dog! What letter is that? Right! D!”
Stay with this step for as long as it takes – it’s fundamental. Spend days, weeks, months working on the sounds the letters make. Point out letters on outdoor signs. In books. On T-shirts. On the cereal box. Everywhere!
The next step is understanding what your child’s interests are, and then teaching him that he can find out information about that interest in… books. This will create a sustainable, life-long attraction to books because there will be a pay-off to his reading.
The picture? It's supposed to represent "books scattered all over the house." Yeah, I'm a writer not a photographer, that's for sure...