The importance of parental involvement in their child’s reading activities does not diminish because of the prevalence of computers and technology. School-age children still enjoy listening to a good story. A child’s entrance into a learning program should not mean the end of a parent’s reading to the child. Early learners like fairy tales and books that have corresponding puppets or other toys. First graders like easy readers because they can recognize some of the words; they also like picture books with strong characters and a solid story. At the second and third grade level books should be somewhat above the child’s current reading (but not emotional) level. Nonfiction works, “How to Do It” books, nonsense books, and riddle books are popular with children in these grade levels. As with pre-school children, parents should encourage active participation when they read to their school-age children.
At some point, a child may want to read independently. Many times, however, when the parent stops reading to the child, the child stops reading. Studies have shown that students who read at home, not surprisingly, improve their reading ability. A closer look at the home reveals that parents and siblings in the home also read during their leisure time. There are books available in the home, or there are trips to the library. Television and computer use is limited.
If a home does not have books for children, and if there is no library close to the home, a parent can use a newspaper, catalog or magazine to encourage a child to read. Parents often are seen reading a newspaper or a magazine, so that role model is ready-made. Not only is a newspaper or a catalog inexpensive, but it has something of interest for nearly everyone. A parent might clip a news article and ask the child to read the article to him or her. Pictures can be chosen, and the child can either make up a story about the pictures or list descriptive words that tell about the pictures. An appealing news or magazine story can be clipped into paragraphs; the child can read the paragraphs and put them into the correct sequence.
To keep reading skills sharp, a child should read for at least fifteen minutes a day. Reading also can be built into everyday activities. A chid can help a parent prepare a meal by reading recipes to the parent. Locating names, emergency numbers, or ads requires reading. While grocery shopping, a child can find specific items on shelves or read label information. A child can read a restaurant menu to the parent. If the family is planning a vacation, the child can read maps and tour guides.
Parent involvement means instilling the values of self-discipline, hard work, and responsibility in children. It means an emphasis on the importance of learning. It means stepping away from electronic devices in order to provide your child opportunities to practice reading skills.