By Curriculum Specialist Heather Incao
Parents often ask what they can do at home to support their child at school. Always, the first answer to my mind is to read aloud to their children. Read often and to all ages from birth into the teen years. Making time to read aloud to your child regularly has many benefits.
There are clear cognitive benefits to reading aloud. Brain scans show that hearing stories strengthens the part of the brain associated with visual imagery, comprehension, and word meaning. Children that are read to have higher phonemic awareness, making it easier to learn reading skills. Reading aloud also helps to build vocabulary and to develop listening skills. It can help children learn words to describe feelings which enables them to better control their behavior when they have challenging feelings like anger or sadness. All of these are tools for success at school.
Also, there is the benefit of building a bond with your child. By creating a routine of reading aloud, you can slow down the world for a few moments. These quiet moments of connection with your child will form memories that will last a lifetime. By choosing books with beautiful art work, complex sentences, and varied subject matter, you will help to instill a love of books and reading in your child.
Here are some things to think about while you are reading to your child:
- Talk about the pictures. What does your child see in the picture? What does your child think is happening in the picture?
- Follow the text with your finger to show that the words are being read left to right, top to bottom.
- Choose books from different genres.
- For older children, choose longer books with chapters that take several days to read. Talk about what happened in previous chapters before starting the next chapter.
- And for the preteen and older, take turns reading to each other. Let the books inspire conversation.