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Reading is a fundamental skill that serves as the gateway to knowledge, imagination, and lifelong learning. Through reading, children learn to decode the letters of the alphabet to delving into the depths of complex literary works. Enhancing literacy opens doors to endless possibilities and enriches every aspect of their lives. 

However, reading can be challenging as it requires dedication and patience. As parents, it’s our responsibility to guide children through this journey of developing their reading and literacy skillset or, to put it simply, to teach them how to read.

This article discusses 7 steps to boost our children’s literacy skillsets and develop their love for reading while laying the foundations for parents to understand the importance of reading for their children’s growth. 

Why is Reading Important for Children’s Growth?

Before getting into the ‘how,’ it’s important for parents to know the ‘why’ of reading’s importance.

There are many benefits that come from reading. Other than reading being a necessary skill to navigate through life, reading can also provide values such as:

1. Increasing Knowledge

According to Pearson, research indicates that children who engage in daily reading for pleasure demonstrate higher performance levels in assessments than their non-reading counterparts. They also exhibit enhanced vocabulary, expanded general knowledge, and a deeper appreciation for different cultures.

As children immerse themselves in books, they encounter new ideas, perspectives, and information that broaden their understanding of the world. Whether exploring distant galaxies in a science fiction novel or delving into the pages of a history book, each reading experience contributes to their intellectual growth and fosters a thirst for learning that extends far beyond the classroom.

2. Critical Thinking Skills

When children read frequently, they are being exposed to different viewpoints, plotlines, character arcs, and more. Children can learn about conflicts, solutions, and other skills with fiction and non-fiction reading materials. Seeing these diverse themes in literature encourages children to analyze, evaluate, and synthesize information, honing in on their critical thinking abilities.

Furthermore, exposure to diverse narratives and perspectives encourages children to think critically about complex issues such as social justice, ethics, and morality. As they encounter characters facing difficult decisions or navigating moral dilemmas, they develop empathy and ethical reasoning skills. These critical thinking skills are not only essential for academic success but also empower children to navigate the complexities of the world with confidence and compassion.

3. Boosting Media Literacy

Media literacy is also a skillset that empowers children to critically engage with the vast array of digital media they encounter daily, including social media, news articles, videos, and advertisements. 

By honing their media literacy skills, children will enhance their reading comprehension abilities and develop the critical thinking tools necessary for navigating the complexities of the digital world as they grow older.

Through the process of building upon their literary foundation, which includes reading comprehension and interpretation, children learn to discern between reliable and unreliable sources, identify bias, recognize misinformation, and understand the persuasive techniques used in various forms of media. 

These skills will contribute to their academic success and prepare them to be informed, responsible digital citizens in an increasingly interconnected world.

For more information on media literacy and how to develop them, check out our recently published article here!

Read more: Life Skills for Early Childhood Development that Every Parent Should Know

Discover. Learn. Thrive.So, How to Teach Your Child to Read? Here is 7 Steps You Can Do!

As a parent, helping your child develop strong reading skills is one of the most valuable gifts you can give them. But where do you start? Teaching a child to read involves more than just sounding out letters—it’s about fostering a love for reading and providing them with the tools they need to become confident readers. Here are seven steps you can take to help your child on their reading journey:

1. Introduce Phonemic Awareness Activities

Before children can start reading, they need to understand that words are made up of individual sounds called phonemes. Engage your child in phonemic awareness activities such as rhyming games, identifying initial sounds in words, and blending sounds to form words. 

These activities help children develop the crucial skills needed for decoding words while laying a solid foundation for reading. Here are some specific activities for phonemic awareness activities:

a. Learning Rhymes

Try exploring words that rhyme with “cat” such as “bat,” “mat,” and “hat.” Additionally, focus on identifying initial sounds in words by playing games like “I Spy” where your child guesses objects based on their initial sound. 

For example, you might say, “I spy something that starts with the sound /b/,” and your child could guess “ball” or “book.” Gradually progress to blending sounds together to form words, using activities such as sound-blending puzzles or word-building games.

b. Tongue Twisters

Tongue twisters are not just a playful linguistic challenge; they’re also a fantastic tool for developing phonemic awareness and articulation skills in children. Encourage your child to tackle tongue twisters like “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” or “She sells seashells by the seashore.” 

These phrases are carefully crafted to contain a sound sequence that is challenging to articulate rapidly and accurately. As children attempt to repeat these tongue twisters, they’re forced to focus on the individual sounds within words, strengthening their phonemic awareness—the ability to recognize and manipulate these sounds.

Beyond phonemic awareness, tongue twisters also contribute to enhancing speech clarity and precision. The intricate combinations of sounds require precise articulation and control of the tongue and mouth muscles. Regular practice with tongue twisters can lead to improved enunciation and fluency in speech—a valuable skill that extends beyond reading and literacy to communication in general.

c. Mystery Bag Game

Splash Learn encourages parents to take part in the mystery bag game to boost children’s phonemic skills. Get a bag and put some small toys or items inside. Next, grab some plastic letters that match the starting sounds of those items. 

Now, the challenge is for kids to determine which letter matches each item’s starting sound and sort them into the right groups. This fun game helps kids practice recognizing the first sounds in words, an important skill for learning to read. 

2. Explore Letter Recognition and Letter-Sound Correspondence

Introduce letter recognition activities to familiarize your children with the alphabet. Use alphabet books, puzzles, and games to help children identify and name letters. Take time to point out letters, discuss words associated with them, and let them interact with letters hands-on through puzzles and games. Once they’re comfortable recognizing letters, start associating each letter with its sound. Practice this by sounding out simple words together, emphasizing how letters come together to form words.

Interactive tools like word-building games or phonics apps can add variety and fun to learning. By exploring letter recognition and letter-sound correspondence in different ways, you’re setting the stage for your child’s reading journey, helping them build essential skills while keeping learning enjoyable. With patience and encouragement, you’ll watch your child’s confidence and enthusiasm for reading blossom.

3. Read Aloud Together Daily

Make it a daily ritual by setting aside dedicated time to share stories, poems, and informational texts. Choose a variety of texts that match your child’s interests and reading level, ensuring each session is engaging and enjoyable.

During reading sessions, encourage discussions about the story, characters, and illustrations to deepen comprehension skills and foster a positive attitude toward reading. 

Ask open-ended questions to spark critical thinking and invite your child to share their thoughts and observations. By actively involving your child in the reading process and modeling fluent reading, you’re enhancing their literacy skills and creating cherished moments of connection and discovery.

Now that you have some tools to get started with the basics, let’s continue by seeing how we can develop your children’s love for reading:

4. Create a Reading-Friendly Environment at Home

Create a home environment that encourages and celebrates reading. Set up a cozy reading nook with comfortable seating and various books within reach. Make regular visits to the library a family outing, allowing children to explore and select books that pique their interest. 

If a public library is unavailable in your area, you can always encourage them to spend some time in the school library. You can also incorporate reading into every day activities by having books readily available in different rooms of the house and integrating reading into bedtime routines.

Remember, many habits (good or bad) start at home. Proverbs 22:6 states, “ Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it.” This scripture emphasizes the importance of instilling positive habits and values in children from a young age. Just as we are encouraged to guide children in the right direction spiritually, we can also guide them in developing a love for reading.

5. Explore Different Genres

Exploring different genres is a fantastic way to broaden children’s literary horizons. Start by introducing children to a diverse array of genres, ranging from classic fiction and fantasy to non-fiction, poetry, graphic novels, and beyond. Encourage them to explore genres they may not have considered before, such as science fiction, history, or biographies, to spark curiosity and intrigue. 

Provide opportunities for children to delve into various topics and themes that align with their interests, whether it’s dinosaurs, outer space, animals, or historical events. By exposing them to a wide range of genres and subjects, you empower them to discover their literary preferences and develop a deeper appreciation for the richness and diversity of literature. Ultimately, by embracing the exploration of diverse genres, you lay the foundation for a lifelong love of reading that opens doors to infinite literary adventures.

6. Make Reading a Multisensory Experience

Making reading multisensory enhances children’s literary experiences, promoting deeper engagement and comprehension. One way to do this is by creating themed snacks inspired by books. For example, if they’re reading a story about a jungle adventure, create a themed snack by arranging fruits and vegetables to resemble animals or trees in the jungle. 

Acting out scenes from the stories also brings them to life. Encourage children to become characters, using props and costumes to immerse themselves in the narrative. This act of role-playing will help them visualize the story and foster creativity and empathy as they step into the shoes of different characters.

In addition, listening to soundtracks that match the mood or setting of a story adds another layer of immersion. Choose music or soundscapes that complement the narrative, whether it’s classical music for a historical novel or ambient nature sounds for a story set in the great outdoors. Playing these soundtracks while reading can enhance the atmosphere of the story and help children connect more deeply with the narrative.

When reading becomes a multisensory experience, children’s imagination, creativity, and sensory perception are stimulated.

Read more: Fun and Practical Tips for Parents to Nurture Children’s Imagination

7. Utilize School Resources and Support Programs 

In addition to various activities at home, parents can further support their children’s literacy journey by utilizing school resources and support programs. Sekolah Pelita Harapan (SPH) understands the importance of nurturing literacy skills and offers a range of initiatives to promote reading. 

For instance, SPH organizes Annual Book Week events that celebrate the joy of reading and encourage students to explore new books and authors. Additionally, SPH boasts a resourceful library with a complete collection of books catering to diverse interests and reading levels. 

Through assigned reading materials in class, SPH ensures that students engage with a variety of texts to enhance their literacy skills. Partnering with schools like SPH can reinforce the value of reading and provide their children with the support they need to thrive academically and personally.

In conclusion, developing a love for reading and strong literacy skills in children is a collaborative effort that involves both home and school environments. Implement the 7 strategies discussed in this article to lay a solid foundation for your children’s literacy journey while building a lifelong passion for reading. Remember, reading opens doors to endless possibilities and enriches every aspect of children’s lives. 

For additional support and resources, SPH offers an extensive array of resources designed to aid children and parents in developing literacy skills. Explore SPH’s Early Years Program to discover a wealth of tools and materials tailored to support early literacy development. To learn more about our student services and how we can assist you further, visit our website or reach out to us today.

By partnering with SPH and leveraging the available resources, you can empower your child to thrive academically and beyond, ensuring they embark on a fulfilling literacy and learning journey.

Your Journey to Lifelong Learning Starts Here

Sekolah Pelita Harapan

Established in 1993, Sekolah Pelita Harapan (SPH) has become a trusted International Christian School in Jakarta providing Christian education for Indonesian and expatriate families. As a dedicated partner in education, SPH seeks to empower families with personalized programs and resources, fostering academic excellence, nurturing faith, building character, and facilitating their children's personal growth.