By Tara Weng, GalTime.com
Raising your children to become avid readers can seem like a daunting task with the allure of television and Internet close by. There are ways though to encourage your child from a very early age to appreciate a good book and get joy out of reading. Starting early might just be the key to success. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says reading to your child as an infant is a sure-fire way to not only teach them how to talk but improve their chances of learning later on in life.
By three months of age children will be able to respond to the sound of voices they recognize. First grade teacher and mom Heidi Begin says you can start building the foundation for an avid reader at this time. She suggests singing nursery rhymes to infants and reading short books,to begin a routine they'll become accustomed to.
As children get older it's important to have them see you reading as they will imitate what you do. "Pre-school year, start having a "reading time," everyone in the house stops at a certain time, you gather in the living room (or pick a room), and you read your own book, magazine, paper etc. Your child will see you reading as well," Begin explains.
Some of the things that Begin found worked with her son (who is now an avid reader) and her young students include:
- Putting out dish buckets with books in each room of the house
- Going to the library weekly, having your child get a library card.
- Putting "sight words" on sticky notes and hanging them in the kitchen for your child to recognize and read
- Having children go to bed with three short books. Let them look at the books first then go in and read them together.
- Bringing kids to story hour(s) at book stores
The "Raising Readers" program in Maine also offers helpful information for all parents on how to capture the attention of children from an early age. Program director Karen Bartley encourages parents to check out this tip sheet on how to read to children.
What works for some kids won't work for all but starting your children off on the right path early will definitely help pave the way for their success as readers and learners. There are many resources online to help parents and kids get the most out of reading. Some can be found here.
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