Learning how to read is an important milestone for children. However, far from being just an essential skill along with the likes of writing and numeracy skills, it is also superbly beneficial as a door that leads to much more learning.
For children who are still developing in their language skills, reading improves their exposure to varied sentence structures, vocabulary, and improves their writing. Reading is also a wonderful way to learn more about the world, building up knowledge and critical thinking skills for not just children, but readers of any age.
However, children who are not yet confident in reading may hesitate to read, and miss out on all these important benefits. In turn, the lack of reading will slow their language development as well. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle – but we assure you, there are things you can do to help! If you have a child in this situation, here is how you can boost their confidence and passion for reading:
Make it interactive
When children are reluctant to do anything, one way is to repackage the activity to make it attractive to them. Rather than just sit down and read – which they may already have begun to associate with negative feelings – ease them into reading by incorporating lots of interaction and drama.
Don’t just read the story to them; act it out! Use sound effects, props, and involve your child in the story. This heightens their interest and helps them visualise and understand the story better. Once you’ve got their attention, then can you begin to introduce them to the text, encourage them to recognise new words, and gradually have them read independently.
Make reading accessible
It is easier to cultivate a habit when doing the activity doesn’t feel like a chore. So, it is crucial to make reading feel easy, and you can do so by making it highly accessible and present in your daily lives. Some educators go by the ‘ACT’ method for reading, which stands for Access, Choice, and Time.
Essentially, encouraging reading starts with providing the child with ample access to books, letting the child choose what they want to read, and setting aside time each day for reading. This way, there are fewer barriers which stop them from picking up a book, and children can feel in control of what they read as well.
Talk about reading
Reading is not the end of the story. Stirring up interest in reading and learning also involves talking about reading. Make it a point to be curious about what each other are reading – discuss your favourite books over dinner, share your major takeaways, and so on.
During reading, engaging with the story through discussions also helps children understand the text on a deeper level. As they consider different characters’ points of view and alternative scenarios, they also practice critical thinking, empathy, and creativity. A fun way to engage with text is to respond with their own input – suggest to your child to write an alternative ending or make a drawing of their favourite scene, for example.
Build on their interests
Be it dinosaurs, astronauts, ponies, or firefighters, most kids have their special obsessions and interests. Use this to your advantage to pique their interest in reading! This makes them more likely to enjoy what they read, while at the same time increasing their knowledge of the subject matter.
Once they’ve become mini experts at their topic of interest, it makes them more confident of reading books in the same category. As they read and develop their reading skills and vocabulary, they can then move on to other topics and genres.
Building your child’s reading confidence early is important and beneficial to them. Of course, you can’t do so without also having ready access to a wide range of books!
While you can make do with weekly visits to your community library, having a school library with ample resources also helps. You’ll be thankful if your child is in a school like the International School. The top international school in Singapore houses a multi-storey library chock-full of wonderful reading materials – and for the bilingual learners, there are also books in various languages.
You can catch a glimpse of the IB school’s library and literacy programmes at their virtual open house in Singapore. The school also invites all parents of prospective students to their Principals’ virtual coffee chats taking place till 12 June 2020. Get in touch to book your slots today!