Recently I sat down with my own daughter to listen to her read. I knew what I wanted! She was going to read the print, sounding out harder words or making an educated guess based on the meaning of the passage or the pictures supplied on the page. Unfortunately she had other ideas which included paying little or no attention to the print, taking careful note of the pictures (and asking for my comments on them) whilst virtually describing the entire story with little or no help from the words on the page. This listening to reading is a frustrating business! It is at this point that we really need to remember why we read and what is important to the child. What originally generated their interest and desire to take part in the stories that we read to them? When children go to school we can sometimes lose sight of the real purpose for reading which is to gain meaning and pleasure from books. An over emphasis on the task of identifying individual letters and words can often detract from the pleasure of books and take away one of the key ingredients to reading success - ENJOYMENT! What the child needs is a balance between this struggle to read words and involvement in a good story.
We can achieve this balance by talking about things such as:
By asking these types of questions we help the child see that it is the meaning that matters and that words are a means to an end. By involving ourselves in books with our children we will automatically develop and support the child's curiosity about text and the meaning it conveys. Children will be encouraged to examine print and discussions take place about the meaning of words and the relationships of the book's ideas with the world beyond. We need to encourage our children to make connections between what they read and their own experiences, knowledge and ideas. It is important to talk about books and what they mean to you so that reading is seen to be an activity that is highly valued at home. Children don't need to read good books all the time. Sometimes they like comics, joke books, magazines or computer manuals. It doesn't matter what they read as long as they are reading to enjoy it. Our most important task as parents is to give our children the opportunity to get hold of all the books they want and to let them enjoy reading. If you are looking for a place to start our library or the community library are wonderful places!
How can parents can help their child with reading as they make their first steps towards using and understanding books and other texts. You can assist them by:
There is some excellent information about Literacy for parents to help guide the children on the DECD website.