Studies have shown that the most important thing you can do to help your child do well in school is to read to them. You have the amazing power to boost your child’s learning potential and increase their language skills by reading to them every day.
Not only will your child learn basic sounds that form words, they will learn how words are put together in sentences and how to enunciate them clearly. Books open up the world to your child. They will see and experience new things through the characters in the books you read.
One of the best benefits of reading to your children is the close bond you will form with them over time as you go on reading adventures together. There is nothing better than snuggling together and reading a book. Make it a routine part of your day. Bedtime is a great time to share a quiet story and prepare a child to calm down for sleep.
Here are some ideas to help you get started:
It is never too early (or too late) to begin reading to your child. Some people read to their babies while they are in the womb. Start now and spend a few minutes each day reading with your child.
Have lots of books around the house. Do your children see you reading? Let each child pick a book to read, or take turns picking a book to read.
Go to the library often. Get your child a library card. Teach them to be responsible and take good care of the books they borrow. Many libraries have story times for children, and some even have story times for special needs children. If they don’t have such a program, why not suggest it to them?
Pick books that are age appropriate for your child. For younger children choose simpler themes. You don’t necessarily need to read the book verbatim. Simplify the language as needed. Children with special needs may have a shorter attention span. Keep it short and simple to begin with and keep it moving along to keep their interest.
Children usually have favorite books that they want to hear over and over again. Don’t push them to read something new right away. For special needs children re-reading the same book several times helps increase their retention.
Allow time to point out pictures in the book and ask questions. Talk about the story. Ask them what they think will happen next. Have them tell you the story some time. You may be surprised at how much they remember.
Books that rhyme are great for children with speech or language delays. Have the children repeat some of the words in the story. If there are animals in the story, have them make the animal sounds.
Make it interesting by using inflection in your voice. Make it fun. Use props. Act out part of the story. Make up a silly song to go along with the book or use hand motions for certain words.
For children who have trouble with their fine motor skills, glue pompoms onto the pages of the book to make it easier for them to grasp and turn the page.
For the visually impaired find books with extra large print. If your library doesn’t have these, ask them to consider buying some larger print books for visually impaired children. It never hurts to ask.
Record a video of your child reading a book. Kids love to see and hear themselves on camera. It doesn’t have to be perfect. For some special needs kids just making the basic sounds of the words is a big accomplishment. Celebrate their success.
Don’t make reading to your child a chore or something to cross off your to-do list. Relax. Don’t make a schedule or a rigid goal of reading so many pages each day. Take a break when your child needs one. Enjoy this time with your child. Just have fun! Before you know it, your child will be on the road to becoming a lifelong reader. Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net