Learning to read is not a 1-step milestone that can be categorized into knows-to-read days and doesn’t-know-to read days with a ‘eureka’ moment. It is a very gradual process. It involves various steps that need to be covered. It involves various pre-reading skills that need to be mastered.
Most children master the art of reading, sooner or later, with help or without help. But what generally fails to develop in them is the passion to read. They read because they ‘have to read’. They don’t read because they ‘want to read’.
Our children don’t see us reading much. The love for novels is almost restricted to hard-core book lovers in this fast-pace life. Magazines are passé. General junta reads newspapers, signboards and bills. In fact newspaper reading is also metamorphosing into news reading on .coms.
Children of this generation feel that we don’t really need to learn to read so much. Learning to read has no survival value to them. They perceive, from our behavior, that reading doesn’t belong to the list of must-have skills. They don’t realize that we are silently reading so many things around us. They don’t realize that we wouldn’t be able to survive if we couldn’t read.
To make it more difficult for our children, they have just too many distractions. There are T.V, computer, tablet, i-pad, play-station and many alike to pull them from books. There are DVDs of all concepts and all stories, which are far more appealing than boring books of the same concepts and stories.
So our children haven’t failed to develop interest in reading. We have failed in helping them develop the same. It is tough and challenging. It is not to easy to use simple alphabets and numbers to stimulate these sharp young minds.
Before you choose to hit the panic button, let’s see if few of these suggestions help you in generating that fun, interest, passion in reading, in your child.
- Scrap book: for smaller kids, there can be a page dedicated to one sound. If there is a b-page, a collage of photos of ball, balloon, baby, bib, boy, bear, beach etc can be used. For bigger kids, a scrap book of themes can be made and the child can be asked to keep looking for words and pictures in books/magazines/newspapers and, cut and paste them in the book. (cutting not to be done without asking you, of course)
- Hopscotch: draw the grid on the floor and write a word in each box. You call out a word and the child has to jump to that box. Fun doubles when child calls out and you jump
- Board-game: create your own board-game by drawing grids and writing small instructions like “jump” or “smile”, where the players have to roll the dice and follow the instructions.
- Notes: write notes generously and stick them around the house. Small love notes like “Mumma loves you” near study table or instruction note like “brush for 2 minutes” in the bathroom will be whole-heartedly welcomed by your child.
- Hunt: tell your child that you have hidden a few alphabets written in separate chits in a room. All the alphabets put together will make a particular word and he needs to find the chits. As he finds all the chits hidden from various corners of the room, put them together and ‘brainstorm’ which word it can be. For bigger kids, words can be hidden and found to make sentences, or a list of objects can be given to them and they need to find those objects from different parts of the house and collect them at one place.
- Letter: in the era of e-mails and SMS, hand-written letters are almost obsolete. But the thrill of sending and receiving letters is not. One feels elated to receive a letter or a greeting card. Encourage your child to write/draw something for a close relative. Make sure to post it. Request the receiver to send a reply.
- Grocery list: you make this day in and day out, either on paper or in your head. But your child doesn’t know about it. Why not involve him too! It’s a great way of teaching the utility of reading and writing.
- Shopping: when you are in the store with your child, you may ask him to look for ‘tomato ketchup’ while you hunt for something else. Ask him to check the expiry-date of the product. Ask him to tick off the item from the grocery list.
- Story drawing: you may give some word-cues, which can be used to draw a picture. Later, the child may narrate a story based on the picture. Bigger children can be given sentences to read and draw, to create a scene, on which they can base and narrate a story.
- Reading together: simple and yet effective. Read a comic book together. The giggles and snickers come free with that.
- Reading out: again, simple and effective. When you read out a story to your child, he learns a lot about the correct way of reading, besides feeling ecstatic for being your centre of attention for full 15 minutes
Especially for grade 1 onwards
- The night reporter: have your child write 4-5 important events of his day before bedtime. Ask him to read it like a news-reporter to everyone.
- Cooking: cook with a recipe book open. Have your child in the kitchen. Ask him to help you out with the ingredients, measurement and steps. Children love to cook with parents, especially if they feel that they are directing the whole thing.
- Playing detective: write a letter in codes to your child. Hide the decoding formula somewhere in the house. Give him hints to find the formula. When he finds and decodes the letter, reward him with something
- Karaoke: read and sing-along! Learn and have fun. Whether your singing skills are anything to write home about or not, the act of reading the lyrics together and singing is simply rejuvenating.
- Directions: when you are out with your child, ask him to read the name of the shop, street to ‘help’ you out with the directions.
The activities can definitely be simplified or made more complex to suit the age/need of each child.
Happy reading !!