Reading or story time before bed is a great way to connect on a daily basis with your children, especially during a world dominated by screens. It can also be a great tool to promote reading skills in your young child! Everyone learns to read on their own level. However, parents have the opportunity to play a large role in their child’s reading readiness and skills. Many parent’s do not know that there are ways of engaging children in reading time, other than the adult reading and the child passively listening. By actively engaging the child in reading, you can also help them learn social, emotional, and academic skills. Here are a few ways to help engage your child in reading.
1. Comment on what you see on each page.
One way to actively engage your child in reading is to comment on what you see on each page. For example, “There is a purple flower, growing in the green grass, next to the brown bear.” When you name the pictures and describe the actions, it helps children to associate the written word with pictures and the verbal pronunciation. It is also important to point out and name emotion, as this helps with your child’s emotional development and awareness. For example you may say, “The boy is happy to be going to play at the park.”
2. Ask open-ended questions.
Another technique that is helpful is asking open-ended questions and working on predicting what comes next. Ask your child what they think is happening in the pictures in the book. You can also ask your child what they think will happen next or how they think the character in the book is feeling and why they feel that way. This helps with the child’s language fluency, emotional awareness, and story telling skills.
3. Praise and encourage your child’s responses.
Another important aspect of reading with your child is to praise and encourage your child’s responses. It can be helpful to praise your child’s attempts at reading, naming emotions, or discussing story predictions. This helps them to gain confidence and can increase their overall self-confidence.
4. Expand on what your child says.
Expanding on what your child says is another helpful technique during reading time. For example, you may want to add descriptions here and there. If your child says “look a truck” you may want to say “yes a blue truck!” This will help expand your child’s descriptions and put names to shapes and colors. An additional way to expand can be following your child’s lead and joining them in their imagination. Children love imaginary play. If you are reading a book about animals and your child expands by giving them human characteristics, praise and expand on their story. You may also expand by relating what is happening in the book to recent events that may relate to your child’s life.
Other tips in facilitating reading with your child can include: picking books that are of interest to your child or allowing them to choose the stories. Setting a predictable time for reading can also be helpful in making sure that reading with your child becomes a priority and will give your child something to look forward to. Lastly, don’t forget to make readying fun! Engage your child by using enthusiastic voices or even involve their toys and imagination to act out parts of the book.
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