4 Important Things to Keep in Mind When Reading with Kids
The first few years of a child's life are such a critical period in his or her development. During this time, children learn the foundational skills needed to read, and they use words in order to effectively interact with others. Reading is an important part of learning to communicate because it provides children with exposure to new vocabulary and helps them develop language skills that will help them in school. Reading with children is also a great way for parents and their little ones to bond, teach them new things, and instill a love for reading. However, sometimes we forget that children don’t have the same abilities or interests as adults. There are important considerations parents need to make when reading with their children in order to make the most out of this activity.
Every parent’s style and method will vary when reading with children. As you approach storytime in your home, be sure to keep these things in mind so you can make the most of your reading time together.
Pay attention to your child's cues
Not all children find every story interesting. They may find some stories boring while others' stories continue to excite them no matter how many times they've heard them. Be sure to pay attention to your child's cues. Get a sense of whether your little one is engaged or zoning out. Try to observe and be mindful of whether your child is able to follow the flow of the story, and if he or she understands the language.
If your child seems uninterested in reading a particular book, you can encourage him or her to participate more by engaging and noticing what's happening on each page. You don't need to do all of the explainings or instructing. Instead, try to provoke their thinking by asking questions.
For example, you can ask your child, "Why do you think the characters had to leave the house in the middle of the night?", or, "Who are they running away from?" Ask relevant questions to keep your child engaged. Otherwise, you may need to switch to a different type of story or pick another book.
Use simple terms
When you read with your kids, you don’t always have to read every story verbatim. Your child is still in the process of developing and expanding his or her vocabulary, so it may be helpful if you speak in simpler terms if you think some of the languages are above your child’s level of comprehension. The goal is to make the story as easy to understand as possible so children can engage and learn.
You can make reading time a wonderful and exciting experience for your child by changing some words or paraphrasing sentences in order to make the story easier to understand. Feel free to cite examples outside of the story if applicable, and incorporate the illustrations to help your child envision the characters, setting, and plot of the story.
Check for understanding by asking questions
Asking questions is an excellent way to keep children engaged during storytime. This is especially helpful when your little one may appear to become bored or disengaged, as this can make the activity more fun and interactive. It's also a good way to check whether your child is understanding the content of the story.
You can ask thought-provoking questions as you navigate the story. For example, stop and check if your little one understands a word that may be unfamiliar, and if he or she can predict what will happen next. Ask “what”, “why”, and “how” questions. For example, you may ask your little one, "Why do you think the little bear snuck out of the house?", or, "How do you think the bear family can make it back home before dark?"
In addition to providing an excellent way to spark your child's imagination, asking questions also helps strengthen the bond between you and your child.
Make reading fun and interactive
Why read the lines of each character in a boring monotone voice when you can make it more fun and speak in a different voice for each character in the story? Try using different voices. For example, If you're speaking as a bear, you can use a low and booming voice. If you're reading the lines of a bird, then your voice can be soft and tiny.
Doing this can help make the story easier to understand, as your child will be able to distinguish the characters from one another more easily.
Reading with your kids is a great way to spend quality time together and give them an early start as their language and cognitive skills develop. Help your little one get the most out of reading together by following these tips!
Here at Mrs. Myers' Reading Room, we specialize in fun interactive classes for developing readers. Our engaging process helps students gain self-confidence, improve interpersonal skills, and develop a love for learning that extends far beyond the classroom.