Prioritize reading at home and your child will embrace it at school

Shutterstock.com/ Evgeny Atamanenko

When your child starts kindergarten it can be a stressful time. You realize that other kids appear a little ahead in some areas and you worry that your child is falling behind. Parents immediately start to worry at this early, early time if their child will even be able to go to university if this continues. First of all, relax. Second, your child’s ability at this early stage has less to do with their intelligence and a lot to do with what the home environment is like.

Of course, some children have learning disabilities and this will cause them to struggle with things like reading and writing. If you think your child might have some of these issues talk to their teacher about it and see if you can get them tested. Catching these issues early can mean they never became issues at all. Adaptive teaching techniques and different tools can overcome these barriers better today than ever before.

Aside from learning issues, kids will enter school at a wide range of ability levels. Some kids may be able to read full sentences, others may be able to sound out some words, while some will struggle to get a word from a page. A lot of this depends on their own development which can happen at different speeds for different kids and is absolutely nothing to worry about. Often those who start a little later in these aspects end up being very fast learners and overtaking other kids.

You can help ensure that your kid is in a great position to learn from day one though. Before your child ever enters kindergarten books should be a part of their life. The biggest thing you can show your child is that books are fun. Everyone in your family should read for fun to show your kids how great reading is no matter what age you are. This will give them an interest in reading.

You should try to read to your children from a very young age and make it a part of their daily ritual, something that they can look forward to. If they are not being captivated by what you are reading, change it up. The subject matter is really not important at this early stage. Don’t worry about teaching your kids astrophysics just yet, if they like tractors, read a book about tractors.

Try and read the book to them in a way that allows them to see the pages as well. Slowly get them to follow along with the words by using your finger to point where you are reading. In the early stages don’t expect too much. Simply reading in this way will allow them to associate the sounds you are making with the words on a page, that is exactly what you want.

As they progress further and further make reading time even more special. You can read one page or chapter and then they read one page or chapter. This means they get the benefit of both hearing you and reading themselves. 

One thing to be careful of in these early stages is that you may want to provide too much of a safety net. Every time they don’t know how to pronounce a word, don’t just give them the answer. Ask them how the first part would be sounded and slowly help them to figure it out. Even though you will likely have to do this every time for them they are now learning the process of how to work out how words sound.

By prioritizing the basic skills of writing and reading at home you are giving your child an extra advantage in the school environment. When they do something good reward them with a new book, not a new toy. Place reading high in the list of fun things to do and watch how they fall in love with it too.