Grandparents Teach, too
“The more you read the more you will know. The more you learn the more places you will go.” — Dr. Seuss
What can families do from birth to age five to help develop skills in reading and school readiness? The international Reading Association has some suggestions for families: Read to children daily, at least 20 minutes and to develop the set of skills they need to be ready and successful.
Although math and learning about their world are just as important, let’s tackle reading skills.
They suggest keeping books handy — everywhere — in the bedroom, kitchen, with relatives, and in the car. Kids who have books at home are read to more and look at books at an early age. Essentially make books part of the decor and your family’s life.
Create a cozy story area with pillows, stuffed animals, favorite toys, and books.
Read everywhere: outside on a blanket, on the floor in a fort, under a sheet covering a table using a flashlight. You can pack a book bag and bring them along if you might be waiting somewhere. Tie the real world and books together. Read about cars and trucks and then look for them. Serve foods mentioned in books like pancakes, blueberries, kid modified sushi, fruits, and tortillas. Who can resist a book like “Blueberries for Sal” by Robert McCloskey even though it is decades old. A really good book is timeless.
Create a time machine tent or box and read about dinosaurs. Then make a scene with little dinosaurs and Legos. Read about famous people like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Theresa, or Helen Keller. Reading daily boosts vocabulary, comprehension, attention span, and listening skills. Reading teaches letter names, sounds, promotes imagination, curiosity, creativity, and knowledge. Families can talk and point out letters and sounds occasionally but not interferring with the flow of the book too much.
Share stories about everyday events and new experiences like making friends and going to the doctor. As your children’s attention span grows, switch to longer books with chapters. You can read two books that are choice familiar stories and one new one.
Presentation is important. Be enthusiastic and smile but don’t overdo it. Read with a lot of expression. Change the voice ad volume. Allow plenty of time to look at and talk about pictures and characters. Encourage conversations Let children turn the ages. Encourage them to say stop when you point to a period. Prompt children to retell a story. What is the beginning, middle, and end.? More tips will help at ReadingFoundation.org.
There are many lists of books at www. trelease-on-reading.com. Caldecott and Newbery Award winners are especially good. For more see grandparentsteachtoo.blogspot.com; wnmufm.org/learning through the seasons; Facebook, and Pinterest.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Grandparents Teach, Too is a non-profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. The writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers. Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan, the U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, Northern Michigan School of Education, the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum and the Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education.