Make reading an important gift

Give the gift of literacy this holiday season. As a parent or caregiver, you are your child’s greatest teacher and an important influence on his or her growth and development. Choosing to take an active role in developing children’s love of reading is one of the most powerful decisions you can make.

Reading is one of the most important things children need to be successful in life. Good literacy habits begin in the home. Children’s reading skills grow, just like their physical abilities. Your child’s motivation to learn is nourished by the everyday experiences they have with you including talking, reading and writing. Babies are born ready to learn. Responding when your baby makes sounds provides the foundation for learning to talk. Children learn from everything around them. They want to imitate what they hear and what they see. These experiences build a foundation for literacy and help them become successful readers later on.

As children get older, their everyday experiences help them build vocabulary. Ask them to describe all the things they see as you take a walk or drive. Give them crayons, pencils and paper to scribble and develop early writing skills. Help them make up rhymes, sing songs and talk about their experiences. As children get older, they look forward to learning to read and having you as their special partner.

Parents play a critical role in making literacy a daily habit for the family. When parents are involved in their children’s learning, children are more successful! Studies show that parents with high involvement ratings tend to have children with higher grades.

Here are some simple ways to make literacy routine in your home:

—Be a role model. Let your child see you reading.

—Read to and with your child. Share articles from the newspaper, magazines or books.

—Make your home reflect the importance of reading. Keep books around. Visit the library often; make sure your child has a library card and gets to pick out books that interest him or her.

—Allow your child to choose what they want to read (within reason). Reading the latest teen magazine, car brochure or scary book can lead to more difficult and mature material in the future.

—While you are out shopping this holiday season, add a book to your list. Then take time to cuddle up with your child and read together. You and your child will enjoy the special time, and you will be developing a skill that is critical to your child’s success.

 

Amy Baskin,

Community Education Director with Austin Public Schools

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