Detecting Reading Problems in Your Children

In my blog, I write frequently about the importance of children reading from a very early age.  My mother taught me to read from a very early age.  When I was just 3 years old, I could read basic words.  When I was 4 years old, I was more advanced in reading than children in first grade.  My mother begged the administration of a small private school to admit me and after they tested me, they agreed and enrolled me into first grade.  But, what happens if you notice that your child is not learning to read as you had hoped?  What should you do?

In an excellent online article, author Melissa Taylor writes about 7 Early Signs Your Child May Have A Reading Issue.  This article is very helpful and I will briefly discuss some of the points she raises.  She stresses to have your child taken to a specialist as early diagnosis of any issues is critical to your child’s development.  Here are the 7 signs:

1.    Your child does not remember basic letter sounds, such as /a/ as in apple.

2.    Your child confuses letters that look-alike, such as “d” and “p”.  It is common for a young child to do this but as the child grows older, this confusion should not continue.

3.    Your child has a problem rhyming simple, basic words such as “mat” and “cat”.

4.    Your child does not remember easy sight words such as “a”, “her”, “to”, etc.

5.    You child does not pronounce the ending of some words, such as “-ing” or –“ed”.

6.    Your child has a poor memory and does not remember a recent book that was read.

7.    Your child misspells the same word throughout a document.  For example, she may write the word “because” in one paragraph and spell it correctly, but later in the same document, she misspells it as “beacuz” or “bekus”.

Other experts refer to your child’s vision as a possible issue.  Consider taking your child to see a physician to get his sight tested.

It’s important to not just sit back and believe your child will “grow out” of a reading problem.   Speak with her teachers and physician and seek assistance.  When there is early detection of a challenge and assistance given to help your child overcome that challenge, your child will definitely thank you.

Ms. Taylor has links to other websites in her article to further help you.  You can read her entire article by clicking here.

The Best Way to Prepare Your Children Academically for Preschool is by Reading

From the day of their birth, children are learning languages, and the words that they are exposed to for the first few years of their lives influence their language development and academic performance for the years to come.  When preparing your children for preschool, it is critical that you take time out of each day to read to and with them.

For generations, parents have read stories to their young children and for good reason - the developmental benefits are endless. The transition from daycare to preschool will be much easier when reading has been a part of their daily routine.  

When you read a story, don’t just read it quickly as if it is a task that needs to be finished right away.  Take your time.  Talk about the meaning of a word if it is a new word.  Encourage your children to look at the pictures on each page.  As a children’s author, I know the importance that not only words have on each page in a book, but also the pictures.  I hired a children’s artist to design and paint the pictures, according to my direction and input.  Pictures convey a specific message so I wanted to ensure that each picture told the message that I wanted the child to know and learn. 

In addition to looking at the pictures and discussing them, a parent should make reading fun by changing the intonation of his voice.  Also, if it is a woman speaking, try to speak as a woman.  The same thing if it is a man.  Make a silly voice if the character is a funny character.  I think you get the gist of what I am trying to convey. 

Try not to limit your reading times to bed time.  If there is a lull in the afternoon on a weekend, pull out a book to read to your children.   There should always be plenty of books in each room in the house.   Or, ask one of your children to find a book that you can read to them. 

We parents want our children to be prepared for preschool.  The foundation of literacy is the most important and lasting foundation that you can give them.

Adding Audiobooks to Your Children’s Library

Adding Audiobooks to Your Children’s Library

I think that many parents overlook audiobooks because they may believe that listening to them is “cheating”.  They believe that the child does not really read such books, but simply listens to the narrator and therefore, gets no real benefit out of them.  In my opinion however, audiobooks can be an excellent addition to your children’s literary arsenal.  Just as I have promoted having a variety of reading materials for your children readily available, such as comic books, I would also include audiobooks.  

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Using Music to Help Children Build Language and Literacy Skills

Studies have shown that music helps students learn not only rhythm and motor skills, but importantly also language and literary skills.  One such study, by Professors Patricia Cullingham and Richard Allington in 2011, found that when we see or hear words in a new context, our brain creates new synapses (connections) to those words. Professors Cullingham and Allington advocate that children be exposed to vocabulary and other literacy skills in different and meaningful ways. Music has been a very effective tool in bringing meaning to new material including skills in literacy.  

How can parents use music to help their children with language and literacy skills? First, parents can use songbooks so that their children read the words and sing their favorite songs. Second, parents can sing songs with their children.  Visit this website for songs that build reading and language skills - CLICK HERE.

Third, take the words that are repeated in songs and read them in print.  Two books that can be used are Over the Rainbow and Puff the Magic Dragon, both beautifully illustrated by Eric Puybaret.  Fourth, encourage your children to take part in afterschool music ensembles that inspire creativity and involve expression through the arts.

Inspiring Family Reading

I have such fond memories of reading together as a family with my two sons and late husband.  As often as we could, we would huddle together on our bed and read a good book.  In the beginning, I would read out loud to everyone, but as the boys became better readers, they would read out loud to us.  How much time we spent reading together varied depending on our schedules and the type of book we were reading. 

    One of our most favorite books was the Hank the Cow Dog series by John Erickson.  We bought and read every single book in that series.  The series is about a dog named Hank and his sidekick Drover who lived on a ranch and had many funny adventures.  There were other characters who added exceptionally hilarious times, such as Pete the sly barn cat.  As we read, we would pause and laugh and then go back to reading.  We would stop reading whenever we wanted.  Sometimes, there would be an argument as to whether we should stop at a certain point or continue because of the suspense, but often, we read about a chapter a week.  We loved that series so much that we purchased and donated it to the library at my sons’ school.  

    I would like to inspire you to read as a family too.  The memories are precious and last a lifetime.  It is also a great bonding and teaching time for the kids. 

Author Soraya Diase Coffelt

 

The Important Role that Grandparents Play in Emphasizing Reading

    Grandparents are such influential people in the lives of our children.  One very important influence should be in building reading skills and emphasizing reading.  According to the Children’s Reading Foundation, grandparents can spoil their grandchildren in good ways by giving them a reading-rich lifestyle.

Here are some suggestions from the Foundation as to what grandparents can do whether they live close by or not:

  • Sing songs, recite poetry and do finger plays to help develop language and listening skills.
  • Play word games and do puzzles together. These activities provide wonderful opportunities to build vocabulary.
  • Offer books or magazine subscriptions as gifts for birthdays and other special occasions.
  • Invite your grandchild to the bookstore or library for story hour. Don’t rush. Take time to browse the books and to cuddle together in the cozy chairs. Time is your gift to give. 
  • Let your grandchild see you reading and enjoying books. When you’re together, read aloud the words on signs, menus, and captions under an interesting photograph in a magazine or newspaper.

Author Soraya Diase Coffelt

When was the Last Time that You Read to a Child in Your Lap?

Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.
— Emilie Buchwald

           Reading time with children should always be a fun time for you and them.  Have you thought about it also being a time to show your child your love?  When was the last time that you put your child in your lap and actually read to him/her?  This quote from Emile Buchwald is very touching to me.  Generally, children learn the love of reading from their parents.  They observe their parents reading.  Their parents spend time reading to them.  But, actually taking your child and sitting your child on your lap to read is extremely loving and personal.  It is saying to your child “I love you so much that I want to share this special time and book with you and build a loving relationship while we do it.” 

          Twenty years from now – what do you want your child to remember of the childhood years?  A mom or dad who were too busy to sit down and read a book to and with them?  Or a mom and dad who intentionally set aside time for the child to make the child feel loved and important?  Create memories now and build a reader while you are doing it.

Author Soraya Diase Coffelt