Imagine If You Couldn't Read This...
Learning to read well is a vitally important first step on a child's path to success - not just in school, but in life. Reading unlocks worlds of information and imagination. It's also tied to an increased high-school graduation rate.
Most parents want to be involved in helping their children to read, but some may feel intimidated about "teaching" reading. What can parents do to promote their children's success in reading?
An Important Tip
Start by remembering this important tip: the right approach to reading is the one that works for your child. There is no one best method of teaching reading. What works for one child may not work for another. For example, Carlos is strongly auditory: he can hear and remember the sounds letters make. Phonics, a reading strategy that starts by children learning letter sounds, then words containing those sounds, and finally the words in stories, is fine for him. But Susan is a visual learner who learns more easily with a "whole language" approach to reading. Whole language works the opposite way from phonics. First children learn to read by listening to stories while looking at words. Then they practice words from the stories, and finally they learn to sound words out.
There is nothing wrong with either child, or with either method. Carlos and Susan have different strengths; they need instruction that makes the most of those strengths. When all children are expected to learn by only one method, those whose strengths differ from that method are often labeled "problem readers." In fact, it's the method, not the reader, that is the problem. To boost your child's motivation and enjoyment of reading, learn to recognize your child's individual reading style. Numerous research studies show that when reading instruction matches, rather than mismatches, a child's preferred "reading style" (that is, those unique strengths that make learning to read easier with certain methods and not with others), then reading achievement and enjoyment increase significantly. If we focus on kids' strengths, not their weaknesses, they learn to read faster and better.
Imagine how you'd feel if you weren't able to read this short article. Illiteracy is a sad reality for millions of adult Americans, preventing them from working at jobs of their choice, and keeping them in low-wage positions. There is no reason that your child cannot learn to read and comprehend well. Be encouraging and patient, and model an appreciation for reading yourself. You will be rewarded with your child's joyful cry, "Let me read you what I learned today!"