Inspire Your Child To Learn How To Read
By M Fish
Are your child's reading skills developed according to appropriate international reading standards? Educational research shows that 49.6% of American school-age children are at a literacy level below the expected international standard.* Also alarming is fact that parents are now finding that their pre-readers are expected to enter the educational arena with a higher level of development because of statewide standardized testing requirements. Of necessity, parents are constrained to bridge the gap for their children by preparing them for school through developing their reading readiness skills at home.
Fortunately, there are several practices that concerned parents can do in the comfort of their own home to improve their children's abilities. Note, that it is very important to make each stage of development fun, upbeat, and engaging for young children. First, begin with the improvement of basic language skills. This phase of learning can begin even at birth. Parents should read aloud to their children in a lively, expressive, and energized manner at every available opportunity.
Read-a-long or sing-a-long books and CD's are excellent resources to use, especially when driving. Pre-readers may gradually develop basic language skills by repeating aloud what is read to them. This entails having children explicitly recite stories, rhymes, or poems aloud to parents, mirroring proper inflection and expressiveness. Children should be inspired to practice their basic language skills and should spend a large portion of their time conducting oral reading. Oral reading develops reading skills by listening, as well as by doing.
In the process, by sharing picture storybooks with pre-readers, they increasingly develop print awareness. Print awareness is the understanding of how the print on a page works (i.e. directionality, words are read from left to right, letter names and shapes, etc). It is seeing and becoming familiar with printed words. Flash cards are a valuable tool to use to enhance sight word recognition. Singing songs or telling stories every day is an important step parents may take to train children who have not yet developed print awareness. The goal in developing print awareness is to help pre-readers reach phonemic awareness.
Phonemic awareness refers to the understanding of basic phonemes (word parts or sounds). Pre-readers gradually develop an understanding of how to decode words using phonics principals. Phonics awareness is further developed through the use of rhyming books, nonsense words, and songs. Excellent phonics program resources are available at most local libraries.
Each phase of this development process necessitates the use of quality children's books to improve language skills, oral reading skills, print awareness, phonemic awareness, and whole language skills. There are many quality whole-language children's books which can be used by parents to meet advanced reading readiness criterion. Good whole-language children's books are ones that have been carefully written and developed over years with each of these educational principals in mind.
By kindergarten, on average, children have a basic vocabulary of approximately 3000-5000 words. One such example of a good whole-language book is a recently published picture book titled Snerfy Cat Meets Prancy Finch by Mister Fish, which utilizes a blend of these common vocabulary words and introduces children to brand new words, as well as necessary nonsense words, rhymes, and songs, which enforce phonemic awareness.
Parents can strive to help their children to become motivated readers through practicing each of these concepts and by nurturing their children through daily activities, games, and even reading award programs. Such programs are offered locally through most libraries (i.e. summer book contests) and schools, or nationally through publishers, or supplemental educational service providers.
When all these components are used in conjunction, in a healthy learning environment, virtually any child can be inspired to become a happy and motivated reader.
* Nationmaster.com http://www.snerfycat.com/
M Fish is the premier children's author and picture book illustrator for Children's Classic Book Publishers. He is an avid educator, children's entertainer, and certified Kumon math & reading instructor. M Fish's latest children's book release is Snerfy Cat Meets Prancy Finch. In the new children's picture book, Snerfy Cat Meets Prancy Finch , a pretty kitty, named Snerfy Cat, flicks his tail as he seeks a little birdy to fill his tummy so it "does not go Ba-Rump anymore." As fate has it, on this lucky day he finds just such a morsel, a sweet little finch named Prancy. In this fun and surprising little tale, Prancy gives Snerfy much more than he could have ever expected. Prancy does not fill Snerfy's tummy, "but his whole heart instead!" Readers alike agree that it is, "...a bright, lovely, and positive hard-back picture story book, which all children are sure to love and adore. It truly is a modern day classic among the world of children's literature." The 84-page hardback, picture storybook is now available at http://www.snerfycat.com/