For the Love of Reading
Many parents with young children and school aged children have been hearing the words “Kindergarten Readiness” a lot in the news over the last several months in Oregon. Governor Kitzhaber and the Oregon Department of Education released the recent results of the state kindergarten assessment. Since this release, there has been a lot of buzz and conversations between early childhood and K-5 professionals as well as among parents about what needs to be done to better prepare children for school.
Early literacy is one of the main components of the assessment. According to this article from Oregon.Gov, “The early literacy measures were designed to assess fluency in the identification of letter names and letter sounds. Early letter fluency is a key contributor to later reading development and academic success.”
All of this information can be very intimidating as a parent. While it is great for parents to be aware of what the standards are so that they can do their best to help in prepare their child, there is no need to feel inadequate or despair! In fact, early literacy can and should be a joy! There is no need to sit your child down and drill them endlessly with flashcards or to buy into the idea that they need to be plugged into technology that will help them become readers. Young children are naturally so curious and happy to learn new things. Perhaps one of the most basic yet very important things we can do for our children is to read to them daily from infancy on. This tip sheet from www.readingrockets.org offers some great ideas for parents looking to promote early literacy.
One of my very favorite parts of being a parent so far, is the opportunity I have to slow down and take the time daily (and often several times throughout the day) to read to my children. Even my eight year old who is self-proclaimed book worm, loves to snuggle up and be read to still. Not only does reading to your child promote early literacy, but it also promotes bonding. I know there will be a time when my children are too big and too cool to snuggle up on mom’s lap for stories, so I will hold on to these sweet and fleeting moments for as long as I can. Some of my sweetest memories are from the time I spent reading through all of the “American Girl” books with my oldest when I had 3 small children at home (and when I was often glued to the couch anyways nursing my 3rd child).
In addition to the tips from www.readingrockets.org, here are a few of my own tips that have worked in my own family to instill a love for literature and reading:
- Go to the library often! I would be embarrassed to admit how much I have spent in overdue fines over the last several years (they probably should consider naming a wing after me), but it has been worth it. My kids love going to the library and can be talked into doing many things if they know that there will be a library visit afterwards.
- Encourage your family members to gift books instead of presents. When my first child was born, my mother-in-law started the wonderful tradition of giving our family the most recent “Caldecott” award winning book for Christmas. Our whole family is excited to see what the new pick will be each year.
- My children love it when I share with them my favorite books from my childhood. Just the idea that I loved a book when I was little is enough for them to want me to read it over and over. My oldest and I have recently bonded over our love for “Anne of Green Gables.” I have been waiting to introduce her to this and other books and series like “The Little House on the Prairie” since I knew I would be a mom.
- Use social media as a way to find out what others are reading to their children. I have found new favorite books and authors for my children by simply asking other people what they are reading.
- Read what interests your children. I have to admit that reading comic books to my son is hard for me to do sometimes. I wouldn’t personally consider some of his choices the finest literature , but he is so happy and excited when I take the time to read them to him.
- Let your children listen to books on CDs or Play aways (available at your local library). The “Magic Tree House” CDs have made many long road trips more bearable. It also has been an excellent alternative to screen time for my kids!
For you worried parents out there wondering if you are doing enough to help your child, take a deep breath and release your worries. Blue skies in, grey skies out! Helping your children to love reading/being read to is truly one of the greatest gifts that you can give them. Please feel free to share any additional tips that have worked for your family as well as what you current favorite reads are at your house right now!
(I will be taking over for Felicia on the Parenting Success Network blog. Thank you for all of your wonderful articles and tips Felicia! I am the mother to 3 children and have enjoyed teaching Parenting classes in Corvallis for the last 7 years! I love working with children and families and am very excited to be a part of this network! –Kara)