How to develop basic reading skills of your child ?

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Reading is a very significant part of everyone’s life, even research shows that reading is the single most important thing you can do to help your child’s education. It is a process which each individual has to go through with in day to day life. Reading is an essential and important academic focus areas in any school to a child as textbooks and other written media are used to convey the majority of information. Reading is everywhere whether you are in school, walking on streets, watching a TV, reading a book. The process of learning begins at birth and continues during infancy even in small-small activities like when parent lifts their baby, looks into baby’s eyes, and talks to baby gently. These casual and spontaneous activities lay the foundation to the development of language skills i.e. learning & reading. Children first learn to use oral forms of language which include listening and speaking and then start reading and writing.

key areas to focus on to improve reading skills

There are certain key areas as mentioned below which parents can consider and work on to improve the reading skills of their child. Working on these areas will help child to perform well in reading as well as writing in latter life.

phonemic awareness & phonics

Phonemic awareness relates to the ability to distinguish sounds, in which child is able to hear, identify and manipulate phonemes. A phoneme is one of the units of sound that distinguish one word from another in a particular language. When words are pronounced in a sentence, each spoken word is made up of separate units of sound (phonemes). For ex- the word “cat” can be divided into three distinct phonemes, (k), (ae), and (t), which requires phonemic awareness. Another example is the difference in meaning between words kill and kiss is a result of the exchange of the phoneme (l) for the phoneme (s).

If parents focus on to improve phonemic awareness in their child with the help of activities which practice awareness, it can help them in making adequate pronunciation, help in correlate the words with their meaning. Phonemic awareness also helps children to learn new words and finally helps your child to become a proficient reader.

As children with strong phonemic awareness can read words more precisely and rapidly, this allows them to focus more of their attention on the meaning of what they are reading, and eventually reading comprehension improves.

vocabulary

A person’s vocabulary is the set of words within a language that are familiar to that person. In the other way, vocabulary refers to the set of familiar words one can use to make effective communication in a particular language. A vocabulary usually develops with age and intense hard work, and serves as a useful and fundamental tool for better communication and acquiring knowledge. If your child acquires good vocabulary then he can have good command on reading as well as writing skills.

If your child is reading on his own having good extensive vocabulary, he can quickly finish the sentence or a whole paragraph with meaningful understanding. But on the other hand having normal vocabulary, he can find difficult to pronounce the word he reads, can even take too long to get the correct meaning and sometimes may not able to correlate the meaning with respective words.

It simply shows that vocabulary is also helpful for enhancing reading comprehension; in fact it enhances the reading comprehension. 

fluency & word Recognition

After having developed Phonemic awareness and strong vocabulary, you and your child may look to focus on next significant domain of reading skills, which are fluency and word recognition.

Fluency in reading is ability to read with expression and accuracy with an appropriate rate. A fluent reader has phonological awareness, knows when to take pauses at punctuations and reads smoothly. They have the ability to recognize words quickly as sometimes they anticipate the words based on their vocabulary, which helps them quickly fetching the correct meaning out of what they read in very less time. On the other hand the child who are slow readers or less fluent have more attention on understanding the words rather than the meaning of word. However, the path to improve fluency is gradual, which requires time, practice and sheer persistence.

The best way to improve fluency of your child is to spend some time daily on reading. Parents can try to read a passage of their child’s interests loudly again and again, simultaneously correcting the pronunciation, giving feedback on fluency etc. Parents can also watch video clips specifically made to enhance reading skills.

Parents, at home can also prepare a list of  repetitive words that come more often while reading, these words can be called as “sight words”. Your child can learn these sight words to improve the reading speed. Examples of sight words are “my,” “are” and “said.”

comprehension

Reading comprehension is defined as the reasoning involved in drawing a conclusion or a logical judgement on the basis of understanding of text content. This understanding may come from rich vocabulary and background knowledge. Here background knowledge refers to the information that child already has about a word or any prior experience which he relates with the word while reading. Comprehension is a creative process dependent upon language skills like the ability to recognize words quickly and effortlessly. It is also determined by an individual’s cognitive development or thought processes. However, construction of thought process comes through education and direct experiences. In order to develop proficient reading comprehension skills, your child needs to have both a rich vocabulary and a huge backup of background knowledge or experience.

So, what parents can do here ?  They can simply help in providing different experiences to their child as they can go to museum, city library , nearby recreational parks, plan vacations to different places, having discussions about great personalities as comprehension through discussion also create higher-level thinking opportunities for children, can do conversations on contemporary topics, a shopping trip, daily conduct a play session, reading fact-based books etc. All above activities can be helpful and provide great opportunities for gathering healthy experiences for your child. When a child is able to relate a word or a paragraph to his previous experience, or any other book, or other facts , then he is making a connection which helps child understand the meaning and leads to better cognitive development.

Parent can also try other reading strategies like teaching their child to predict, summarize, clarify, and ask questions regarding what they read. Summarizing after each paragraph is an effective strategy for improving child’s comprehension and it helps child develop stronger reading comprehension skills on their own. Visualization while reading also helps improve reading comprehension as visualization brings words to life.

Ways to make reading fun

Though, we have understood the above mentioned important aspects to improve reading skills but the biggest concern for most of the parents is “How to make children fond of reading” ? This is for sure that your child can’t escape reading in school or any other place as it is mandatory process. So why not do it in a way that makes it enjoyable to your child. Think of ways to make reading fun so your child will keep reading. But remember that it’s best to read little and often. Don’t let your child feel as if you are imposing something forcefully. So, here parents should structure a schedule to put aside some time for reading on every day. Here are few tips for your kid-

  • Encourage your child to read news paper, books or any articles on web of their interests. Your child will read more and build more reading skills if they are reading books that belong to their interests. The reading material you can look for, the biographies of Great Personalities, facts based books, school related articles, books related to their favorite sports, newspaper, magazines, comic books, and essays about environment, rituals and so on .
  • Reading loudly with your child also gives you an opportunity to choose a slightly more challenging book than one they could read by themselves.
  • Visit your local library as often as possible as Libraries are much more than a source of free books. Libraries may have weekly activities, books with long reading challenges, and even youth book clubs.
  • You can try to be a happy reader to your child, simply pretend as if your are immensely enjoying reading a book, by sharing your experience with your child. By doing this , your child will associate reading with fun and enjoyment.
  • Always teach reading by example which arouses your child’s  interest in reading.
  • you can talk about books and stories to develop their interest in reading.
  • Books should be easily available in every corner of your house to make your child comfortable with books.