Reading Tips (Kindergarten - Grade 3)
- Cuddle up and read. Quiet times together are opportunities to bond...and read. The cuddling can be as important as the reading. Make it exciting: put some drama into your voice or let your child read every other page. As you go, explain any new words or ideas.
- Public libraries today are worlds to explore so try to go regularly. Your library has great resources – books, computer games, DVDs, CDs, magazines, newspapers and Internet access. There are also terrific in-house programs such as reading circles for little ones and homework clubs for older children. If you have access to a public library, talk to the librarian about what is available.
- Make your kitchen part of your "reading zone". Have fridge magnets available so children can start making words and short sentences.
- Words are everywhere – take everyday opportunities to read with your child. Your child's world is filled with words — on cereal boxes, street signs, stores, posters, subway ads, etc. Wherever you go, you can always find new words and point them out.
- Games can be great learning tools. Board games or card games such as word bingo or memory and rhyming cards can be a fun way to learn about words, letter sounds, and reading. They can help children realize how much fun learning can be. Check out your local school fair or second-hand stores for gently used games. You can even create your own by cutting out pictures, writing words on cards and getting you child to match them.
- Computers are reader friendly too! Though many worry that kids may spend too much time on the computer, there are some great games that help kids learn to read and allow them to create their own stories. Look for "parent approved" on the packaging in stores and in the library. Find some kid-friendly websites, like TVOKids and Canadian Geoillustrated for Kids, that have games you can play along with your child.
- Books make great gifts. Ask family and friends to give a book instead of a toy as a gift. Make sure to tell them about your child's reading level and interests. To build up a home library find almost-new books at garage sales and school fairs.
- Subscribe to a magazine. There's no substitute for the excitement of receiving mail. Let your kids subscribe to their favourite age-appropriate magazine and watch their eyes light up with the arrival of each new issue. Great magazines for younger children include Chirp® and Chickadee®.
- Be a reading role model. When your kids see you reading, they will want to imitate you. It won't be long until they learn that reading is fun, interesting, and a "grown up" thing to do.
- Keep books, magazines and newspapers handy. Keep a box in the kitchen or living room for easy access.
Grades 4 - 6
A special note: Educators agree that literacy skills develop and improve as a result of a wide range of activities. For example, a child's literacy skills are enhanced when parents who do not speak an official Canadian language read to their children in their native language. Children will benefit from this reading experience.
- Keep reading with your child. Kids are never too old to be read to—or let your kids read to you. Read a variety of material – magazines, newspapers, books, poems and comic books. Try cutting out or printing interesting or funny articles to share with them.
- Public libraries today are worlds to explore so try and go regularly. Your library has great resources – books, computer games, DVDs, CDs, magazines, newspapers and Internet access. There are also terrific in-house programs such as reading circles for little ones and homework clubs for older children. If you have access to a public library, talk to the librarian about what is available.
- Read some of the same books as your child. There are many books that are loved by people of all ages. Ask your librarian or child's teacher for suggestions. You can share your thoughts and ideas, and have great conversations about the characters, stories or topics.
- Ask your children what they're reading. Ask what it's about and what is most enjoyable about the book. Ask your child to describe it to you.
- Tap into interests and hobbies. Kids are more likely to read about what they find really interesting, like sports or crafts. Don't worry if it's a comic book, magazine or an illustrated novel, just remember all reading is good and tastes will change as they get older. When you go to the library, let them choose their own books.
- Find books that relate to TV shows. Let's face it, TV and video games are part of life now and our kids benefit when we help them learn how to think about these messages too. We also know that some kids find TV and video games fascinating. You can use this to your advantage—introduce them to books or magazines that relate to their favourite shows, movies or games.
- Encourage your older kids to read to younger kids. The older child will practice reading out loud and the younger child will enjoy being read to. Best of all, they get to enjoy spending time together.
- Play games together. Trivia games and board games such as Junior Trivial Pursuit® or Junior Scrabble® can be a fun way to learn about words and reading. Children have such a good time playing they don't realize they are learning.
- Computers can be reading zones too! Though we all feel that kids may spend too much time on the computer, there are some great games that help kids with reading and allow them to create their own stories and books. Look for "parent approved" on the box in stores and in the library.
- Give praise. The best motivation comes from your positive feedback. Whenever your child finishes a reading or writing assignment, ask about what was read and praise your child's effort.
Research demonstrates that boys as a group are lagging in reading and writing skills. If your son is having difficulty, he may need different approaches to encourage interest in reading. Here are 10 simple tips you can use at home to improve your son's literacy skills.
- It takes time to build confidence and skill. It's not how hard the book is that counts, it's the amount of reading that matters. Let your son choose the books he wants to read, even if it's below his reading level. This will help him feel better about his reading skills and give him confidence to try more challenging material.
- Let him make his own choices. If it's his choice, then he'll want to read it. Don't worry if he chooses the same types of books to read over and over or if they have edgy humour. Remind yourself that he's actually reading and enjoying it.
- Everybody enjoys a good story, so read to him. If your son finds a story interesting but the book too hard, share the reading. This will also make the book more fun to read.
- Be a role model. Make sure your son sees you reading and writing. If he sees you doing it, he'll respect you and the activity more.
- Challenge his mind in other ways. Reading and writing are only a couple of ways to challenge your son's mind. Spend time with him and share some brain teasing games like chess, crossword puzzles, board games – even video games. An active mind is better prepared for reading.
- Give his teacher a call. Next to you, his teacher knows him best. Talk to your son's teacher for updates on his reading and writing. Discuss ways that you can help encourage your boy's literacy skills.
- Have him read all sorts of material. There's much more to read that just books. Try reading the instructions to a model airplane or new video game. It's all reading and it's all good practice.
- Tap into your son's hobbies and interests. Turn his interest in sports and music into a reason for reading. Give him books and magazines about things that he already finds fun and interesting and he'll soon discover that reading can be interesting too.
- Use the Net. Just because it's on a computer screen doesn't mean it's not reading. The Internet is loaded with great sites and games that are perfect for your son. Let his interests be his guide to the sites he'll want to read. Exchanging emails with friends and family is also a great way to practise writing. Just be sure he knows all about Internet safety and that the parental controls are on.
- Make his day with a positive word. A pat on the back, school work on the fridge, a smile and the words "good going"... these are gestures that will motivate your son to love reading and writing. So whenever your son finishes a reading or writing assignment, has read a new book or written a story, show genuine interest in it and tell him you're proud.