If you want your children to do well in school, your job starts well before Kindergarten. Reading aloud gives your children a head start – engaging them in learning from a very young age. Some educators recommend starting to read aloud when your child is as young as two weeks old.
Another critical part of this is the reading aloud process itself. As your child gets older, read so that both of you are looking at the book, and follow the words with your finger. Many children will start learning to read unconsciously this way. Also spend some time engaging your child about each book. Look at the pictures and stretch the story by asking questions. Start with the basic: “Where is the dog,” type of question and gradually evolve the sophistication until you’re talking about how various characters feel and why they act the way they do.
Also, don’t stop reading aloud when your child is school-age and reading on his or her own. You can provide windows into more challenging books and open their eyes to a new way of thinking. Finally, make sure your children see you reading for pleasure. Talk about what you’re reading and what you’re discovering. There’s no better way to encourage them to become involved in learning.
Don’t limit the reading to books either. Read everything from road signs to magazines and newspapers aloud. When you find an interesting story or a funny remark, share it with your children. As they get older, ask them to read labels in the grocery store and talk about flavor and nutrition. Point out the marketing messages and ask them if the ads or promotional materials are really believable.
By doing this, you’re doing more than helping them to read better and do better in school, you’re giving them a blueprint for living an aware and focused life with many interests and independent thoughts.