It is once again the season of book fair, one of the much awaited activities in the country. As no one can overstate the indispensable role of reading in the success of a person, the activity should be pursued with an ever increasing vigor and persistence. And to get the maximum result from this effort, it should be directed towards where it would have maximum effect, children. Based on this conviction, today’s article would focus on writing by Dr Bob Myers, a child psychologist, where he gave an advice about making reading part of kids’ life. Following is the summary of the writing.
Reading – The Key to Success
Reading skill is essential to learning all other subjects taught in school. The better the reading skills children have and the earlier they have them determines how rapidly and how well they will achieve in school. Failure to be able to read at grade level by 8 years old is predictive of future learning and behavior problems. There is no reason why a child with average intelligence cannot achieve this goal with early and appropriate reading instruction.
Parents are the first and best teacher
The first teacher any child has is his or her parent. Children develop language skills by listening to and mimicking their parents. When children are born they have the capability of producing any sound made in any language spoken in the world. During the early years, they hear the sounds and make the sounds that make-up the language spoken in their culture. The more time parents spend talking with their child the richer the language development of that child.
As children begin to say their first words, feedback from those around them help them to learn the meaning of the words and begin to use them to get things they want and to please those around them. They gradually learn how to put them together to form phrases and later sentences. Thus, they gradually learn how to speak and listen with fluency and understanding.
The process of reading and writing is simply “talking on paper.” The only difference is that written symbols are used rather than sounds. The child must learn the sounds letters and combination of letters make and how they string together to form words. That is what is called decoding. Once a child learns to decode they can understand communication through written language based on the skills developed through their development of oral language.
Reading to younger children
Just as parents should spend time each day talking to and with their young child, they should also spend some time each day reading to their young child. This spurs interest in books and as children become toddlers and preschoolers who want to imitate their parents doing all kinds of things, reading will become one of them. Parents need to read in a manner that generates enthusiasm and curiosity. They also need to talk with the child about what they are reading to promote in depth comprehension. Reading time should be fun as well as a time for bonding and learning.
Learning To Read
When to start
Many children are ready to begin reading (decoding) as young as three or four while others may not be fully ready until six. Unless there is an underlying problem (speech/language delay, auditory or visual processing impairment or below average intelligence), children should begin developing decoding skills no later than six. Each child may have a somewhat different timeline but usually by three or four children have mastered the sounds of language from speech and now are ready to apply this skill to reading. If you have been reading to your child up to now, they probably will want to learn to read on their own.
How to start
Reading skill development starts by learning the letters of the alphabet. This can start sometime between 6 and 12 months. Treat the letters as you would a picture and start naming the pictures. By the time they are between 6 to 12 months old, you could start the letter of the week or letter of the month. Just like Sesame Street you can have, “this week/ month is brought to you by the letter A. Continue to practice letter recognition off and on until your child is ready to move on to learning to read.
Needless to say it is decisively important that we inculcate the habit of reading in our youngsters. For an effort that is effective at the base is sure to bring about the desired outcome. That is a nation of readers, and hence thinkers, effective worker, and producers. In short, the kind of citizens our Eritrea needs for its road ahead.