The Best Early Reading Strategies for Children and Parents

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The Best Early Reading Strategies for Children and Parents
Learn about the important link between early reading and long-term academic success, as well as activities that will encourage your child to foster a lifelong appreciation for reading.
According to the Nation’s Report Card, in assessing academic performance of children in the United States in 2005, only 37 percent of all fourth graders are considered to be “proficient readers.”  As reading issues and struggles are on the rise across the country, educators are striving to intervene in order to boost students’ reading comprehension and performance; however, educators and schools have limited time and resources, but parents can take on a strong and integral role in their child’s literacy success. 
As Sue Whitney, the research editor for Wrightslaw, further explicates, “Children do not learn to read with support. They learn to read with direct instruction. Reading is a learned skill. For many children, reading is not a skill that develops naturally as they mature.” To provide children with the essential reading skills needed in all academic grades and levels, parents can implement early reading strategies in order to boost their child’s literacy comprehension and success. 
The Importance of Parental Literacy Support
While a greater number of schools across the country are creating early literacy programs for children, many educational experts assert that early programs are not the sole solution or tool to prepare new students for learning and instruction. As The Colorado Department of Education supports, nearly 46% of kindergarten teachers in the United States reveal that nearly 50% of their students exhibit specific issues and problems upon their entry into their first classroom; among the array of problems, teachers report that nearly half of the students in kindergarten struggle to follow instructions, display difficulty working independently, and display poor behaviors of disorganization. 
Adding to this, in the state of Colorado alone, a 2001 survey revealed that among “Kindergarten and first-grade teachers, it was found that teachers believed four out of ten children (40%) entering the classroom were not academically prepared to learn.” All of these problems and initial learning struggles set a child up for a failure to learn. 
As a child’s reading and cognitive readiness and preparedness work as the foundation for their future learning, children across the country are in need of more intense and engaging reading and learning activities before they ever enter their first classroom. As The Colorado Department of Education further argues, children “who start school behind, typically stay behind. Their lives are at risk. But the story begins well before school entry. There are large differences in children's early exposure to experiences that support skills. Preschoolers need food, shelter, love; they also need the nourishment of books… From birth through kindergarten, they MUST take part in many activities--play to them--to prevent later difficulties in reading, writing, and other tasks of formal schooling.”
Effective Early Reading Strategies and Activities
To establish the foundation for learning and reading readiness, parents can implement simple and fun daily activities to foster a stronger love and interest for reading in their child’s life. 
Establish a Routine
As nearly all parenting or educational texts and research supports, children thrive on routines. Similar to discipline, play time, and any other daily activity in a child’s life, reading should be a fun routine that a parent consistently engages their child in each day. To begin, parents should set aside a specific time and reading space. A child should be read aloud to for at least fifteen minutes each day, and the parent should actively engage their child in looking at pictures, talking about the story. Parents should remain optimistic and be encouraging while actively reading with their child. 
Allow Freedom to Read
To foster an interest in reading, parents should allow their child to actively take part in choosing a book or story. Parents should have books within easy access to their child’s reach, and they should also frequently visit the local library or bookstore with their child to examine new, exciting, and engaging books that may peak a child’s interest.
Teach Active Reading
When reading a story, parents should ask children questions to monitor comprehension. As children learn to read, they are not only engaging in the plot of a story, but they are simultaneously learning how a book is held, how pictures align with the storyline and characters, and so forth. As this entire process is completely new and unfamiliar to a child, parents can maintain their focus and curiosity by pointing to pictures, by asking a child about what a character may choose to do, or by asking a child to find specific images on the cover or throughout the book. All of these prompts encourage a child to stay active and involved in the reading process.   
Show Affection and Encouragement  
Most importantly, when reading with a child, a parent must consistently remain positive and encouraging. Reading is an effective time to cuddle with a child, while both physically and verbally showing the child affection and support. A parent should respond to a child’s queries or focus on reading by saying positive feedback statements, such as: “I like how you’re paying close attention to the character’s mood,” or “You are doing such a nice job following all of the details of the story!” As reading is unfamiliar and new territory in a child’s life, a parent’s support and optimism play an integral in their willingness to share their ideas, input, and attention.
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