The Road to Literacy: Strategies for Parents and the Pre Reader

20 09 2011

Sandra Arthur warmly welcomes this viewpoint from teacher, Angela Jackson (originally featured at www.SandraArthurBooks.com)

“So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray,

Go throw your TV set away,

And in its place you can install

A lovely bookshelf on the wall.”


“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by
Roald Dahl

Learning to read is the most important skill any child will acquire during primary education; if a child can’t read, he can’t do anything. He can’t read text books; he can’t read the instructions in a maths exercise: he can’t read a book for pleasure. His or her progress is compromised from the very beginning of his school life. As parents there are many, many strategies we can adopt in our daily lives that will ease the transformation from a non reader to a competent reader. Think caterpillars and butterflies!

1. The first tip is a no-brainer really. Talk to the baby; talk to the small child. I used to feel an idiot chattering away to my baby as we tackled the weekly shop but naming objects helps the baby and later the small child to acquire a large and rich vocabulary. Being familiar with lots of words on starting school, will give the child a great advantage.

2. From the age of 6 months, look at books with the baby. Point out objects; talk about what’s happening in the pictures. Babies enjoy bright colours and simple drawings and the warm, cosy parent-child moment will create the right associations in the child’s mind.

3. Think about singing songs and rhymes to increase a child’s vocabulary. Remember that children need to hear language from people. To a baby, television is just noise.

4. Point out written signs. Stress the importance of the written word

5. Another no brainer: show your child that you value reading, that books are important to you. Have books and magazines around the house. Let your child see you reading books, newspapers and magazines.

6. Treat books respectfully, reverently. Don’t allow the child to draw on reading books. Teach him to turn the pages carefully. Encourage him/her to keep the books and, later, drawing materials in a special place.

7. If there’s a library near you then it’s a good idea to join it. Many libraries and some book shops hold regular story hours and staff are often trained to advise readers on ways to use books creatively.

8. Find time to read a bedtime story every night. Apart from encouraging a love of books, it also sets the scene for a calm bedtime.

While committed, conscientious parents do all this on a regular basis, it’s also worth mentioning not to push too hard and to enjoy the voyage of discovery.

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