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15 August 2018

How to build a reading habit from day one

From developing key literacy skills, to widening children’s view of the world, reading aloud with your child has many benefits.

One core benefit of reading aloud is that it helps establish the foundation of a lifelong reading habit; children who are read to at home eventually begin to read independently.

Building a love of reading is one of the key aims of the Kumon English programme. Below are four tips for parents to supplement this at home.

1. Start reading aloud to your children early:

Academic studies from the US and elsewhere show that the earlier you start reading to your children, the better. Even if children can’t understand the words you’re reading, they begin to pick up on the rhythm, tones and inflections of your voice. Especially with picture books, reading exposes babies and toddlers to visuals. Over time children begin to focus on the patterns of the page, the shapes, letters and colours and will begin to recognise these later on even if they don’t comprehend the meaning.

Reading with your children also creates invaluable bonding time; it shows them that reading is something to be enjoyed.

“At first I believed that books were something that all children eventually pick up and start reading; I did not read to my own children. However, based on my experience with many students, I now realise how many children enjoy listening to their parents reading and I greatly regret having told my children that books are not something to have read to you but something to read by yourself. If I had read to them more often, I believe they would have been able to read much sooner,” Toru Kumon.

2. Choose books you know your children will be interested in, or just let them choose:

For very young children this may mean reading the same Dr Seuss book over and over until it can be recited by heart. For older children it could mean a bookshelf cluttered with Harry Potter. So long as your child is interested to read the book, this is a great start!

Furthermore, reading the same books over and over again builds comprehension skills by giving young readers the time to thoroughly understand the story, as well as the meaning behind the text. This can help to broaden vocabulary as children begin to feel comfortable using the new words they now understand.

“If a child shows interest I think even a high school student can benefit from reading, for example, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I think the important point is to start reading from a level that precisely matches the reading ability of the child,” Toru Kumon.

3. Make books accessible:

Keep books by your children’s bedside, in the playroom — all over the house – and make sure that they are in places within children’s reach. Bring books with you on car trips, to the grocery store, anywhere. Rather than handing them an electronic device, hand them a book they love.

The more accessible you make books, the more you’ll see their reading frequency grow. If your children need a bit more guidance on choosing books, narrow it down to a small selection and invite them to pick a book they want for that moment. You may like to browse Kumon’s Recommended Reading List for suggestions: http://www.kumon-english-rrl.com/

“Let books baby-sit your child,” Toru Kumon.

4. It takes a village – ask your teacher, librarian or Kumon Instructor for suggestions:

Ask one of these people if they have any tips to help even the most reluctant reader stay engaged. After all, they see firsthand what works.

“If books are introduced in the right way I believe that children will be interested more in books than in television. When children enter the world of books they will come to learn more about life and society, things that will help them to lead fuller lives,” Toru Kumon.

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