Reading essentially means being able to make sense of the print – the letters, the words, the sentences, and finally the nuances of meaning based on idioms, phrases, etc. While a lot of people argue that reading, much like speech is a natural skill, it is not entirely true. Yes, the children are born with a natural instinct to read and speak, the skill of reading still remains an acquired one.
The 3 Building Blocks of Reading
Children learn reading in a systematic process that is made up of 3 key building blocks:
1. Phonemic awareness
This is precisely the knowledge of phonemes or letter sounds. Being able to understand individual sounds and pronounce them as they read is the first step to reading. This is in fact a very elementary stage for becoming ready for reading as a child. There are five levels of phonological awareness: rhyming, alliteration, sentence segmenting, syllable blending and segmenting. Some children pick it up naturally, but others need more help with it.
2. Alphabetic awareness
The English language has 44 sounds, but only 26 letters represent those sounds. Hence, the knowledge of alphabets and the phonemes together is critical to understanding what is written. It is easy to point to a tree and say that it is a tree but what about the words that are abstract or non-nouns? To understand these words, children need to memorize which sounds go with which letters i.e. have alphabetic awareness coupled with phonemic awareness.
3. Sound-to-word awareness
A word is more than the sum of the constituent letters. Being able to understand that different sounds blend together to form a word is the last building block in a typical child’s reading skill acquisition journey.
While all the theories can highlight different stages and benchmarks, none of them are applicable to all children. The children are a curious little bunch after all, how can we even box them or classify them? Children are diverse learners and each child has their own style and pace of learning. The same applies to reading as a skill in children. If your child is facing a struggle with reading or shows minimal to no interest in it, it might be the right time to intervene.
Fun fact: The Matthew Effect is not only about the progressive decline of slow starters, but also about the widening gap between slow starters and fast starters. In reading, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It is important to pay heed to your child’s reading skills EARLY ON.
How to Empower Your Child to Read Efficiently and Effectively
As a parent, you can do a lot to ease your child’s difficulties with reading. Right from the early years, one must surround their child with good books and reading-based puzzles or games. This way, your child will develop an organic interest in reading early on that will go a long way. And the good news is that it is never too late to intervene and push your child into a higher learning orbit with a little help. We have put together the 5 most actionable and effective tips for you that you can implement starting today!
1. Engage them in a print-rich environment at home
Exposing children to print in form of storybooks, children’s magazines, etc. is pivotal in developing their interest in reading. When they see patterns of alphabets and words printed against pictures of their favorite things or characters, they automatically become interested in reading on their own.
2. Get them assessed and enroll them in a reading help program
More than the grade, it is a child’s reading level that should determine the support they need with reading. One of the first logical steps is to get the child assessed for their reading proficiency. At Talentnook, we pride ourselves in talking about our Elements of Reading Program that does just that – assessment and a consequent learning program for each child. Our program is designed to help children in three easy steps:
- Assessment – to understand their current status of reading proficiency
- A Focussed Plan – specifically for the child concerned,
- Live Sessions – by mentors and experts in the field
Each level is ten (10) weeks long twice a week, and the entire program is a total of fifty (50) weeks or one hundred (100) sessions. Interested? Start now by requesting a free assessment for your child here.
3. Lead by example
As a parent, it is important to lead by example. You must take an active interest in reading yourself and make it a part of your bedtime routine. This is how your child will observe you revel in the activity of reading and will be inspired to read. Better still, is to involve your child in the routine and read with them each night. Even if you can squeeze out 15-30 minutes, to begin with, you will see a marked improvement in your child’s willingness to attempt reading.
4. Personalize storytime – bring the print to life!
The content plays a very important role in motivating a child to read. If your child is a Star Wars fan, start with a book around a similar theme. Talk to them as you read with them. Take the anecdotes in the story a level beyond and ask them what would they do in such a situation. Ask open questions like, “do you think he did the right thing?” or “what would you have done in her place?” Personalizing storytime goes a long way in developing a child’s interest in reading. It is because when they feel like a part of the story, they tend to do better as readers and can imagine better.
5. Help them build a strong vocabulary
Lastly, many children give up on reading purely because they struggle with understanding new words. Empower your child to read effectively by helping them expand their vocabulary. Set a ‘word of the day’ routine where you can write a new word every morning on a whiteboard stuck on the refrigerator.
Ask your child to come back home with at least 2 instances every day where they used the new word learned each morning. Other creative ways are to play scrabble, Pictionary, word puzzles, etc. with your child.
Do This to Help Your Child Right Away!
If you think your child needs further help with reading, getting them a private tutor to work with them specifically might be a great idea. Interested, but don’t know where to look out for the right tutor for reading skills? Just log on to Talentnook and connect with hundreds of tutors from your neighborhood. You can request free demo lessons, seek online or offline modes of learning and even simply choose to enroll them in our proven Elements of Reading Program. Hundreds of parents have been raving about how the program helped their children do better with reading, and you too could be the next! From difficulty in reading to a success story – you are just a click away!
Read our blog for more interesting and actionable articles on parenting and student resources! Happy learning!