Many of us have wonderful childhood memories of being read to, and reading favourite books. I have a lasting memory of the pride I felt when I read a book in its entirety at the age of 6. It was called Mortimer K Saves the Day! [by R Gelman]. My love of books has been passed on to my children. Too young to read, they both love to turn the pages, and look at the pictures. My eldest, who is not quite three, has a few favourites that she knows by heart, and will ‘read’ the words with amazing accuracy.
Reading difficulties can occur for a number of reasons. It’s a very complicated task, requiring the coordination of a large variety of skills. You need to hold the book, see the book and the words that appear on the page. The book needs to be held up the right way, and a comfortable distance from the eyes. To read words, a recognition of each letter and an understanding of its meaning is necessary, and you need to have an understanding that these letters have specific sounds, and these sounds together form words. You need to scan the words in the correct order, and then there’s punctuation. The English language is complicated with inconsistent spelling and grammar rules. It’s an amazing achievement when our kids master this ability!
The benefits of developing literacy skills are obvious. Reading and writing is a means of communication and form of self expression. During the school years and beyond, reading is important for learning and remembering new information. Every day, information is presented to us in words – forms, contracts, recipes, menus, instructions, directions, addresses, newspapers, and the list goes on.
Here are some tips for helping children to read:
1. Read to your children every day – with enthusiasm! They love this time with you, and you and your child will come to cherish it.
2. When able, get your child to read aloud. Hearing and seeing the words will enhance the learning experience.
3. Expose your child to lots of reading opportunities. This may mean going to the library to find new books to read, helping to find items at the grocery store from a list, identifying street names and signs when in the car.
If your child appears to be struggling with this task, don’t delay in asking for help. This is an important skill to learn. Speak with your child’s teacher, or contact a Speech Therapist or Occupational Therapist for help identifying the possible reason for the delay, and to be provided with strategies to help.
1. Chapter 11: Task Analysis – Reading, B. Ferguson, 2005
2. Task Analysis – an approach to improving literacy and numeracy, J. De Jonge
3. Top 10 Ways to Improve Reading Skills, Peggy isler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.
Nicole is a privately practicing Occupational Therapist (OT) in Brisbane, Queensland. She is mother to 2 beautiful girls aged two and one. She’s also written a guest post for Be a Fun Mum about encouraging your child/ren to write here. More information about Nicole can be found at these web addresses:
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