Our United Voice

7 Every Day Ways to Help Kids LOVE to Read

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

By Katy Miller
Because reading likely comes second nature to you as an adult, you may not realize that opportunities to help your child love reading are all around you every day.

1 - Let’s start with somewhere you go every week – the grocery store. Plan your meals for the week and make a list of everything you need. Hand the list to your child and ask them to read off the items to you.

She can also mark the items off as you put them in the cart. Also try letting her pick products off the shelf by reading the packages. (Hint: our daughter also likes to use math by sitting in the cart, sorting what we are buying and giving us a count of each type of item.)

2 - Think about every retail establishment you go into.  They all have some sort of sign on the door – whether it’s the name of the business or a simple “push/pull” directive – that your child can practice reading.

3 - Of course, an easy outlet for every day reading is billboards and highway signs.  If you’re sitting at a stoplight, take the opportunity to ask your child to read a nearby billboard.  If there is an image or photo with the ad copy, ask your child to tell you how they think the concept of the photo relates to the words on the billboard. Beware, of course, of risqué ads for adult beverages and gentlemen’s clubs.

4 - Another idea for you: restaurant menus! Think about all of the great new words she can learn, reading and choosing which item to order. In the early stages of developing reading skills, it helps if the menu has photos of dishes, which the child can use to identify the word that relates to each photo. Who knew a trip to Denny’s could be a teaching opportunity?
5 - Provided you are mindful of the content and amount of television programs you allow your child to watch, there is plenty of great material to nurture a love of reading in your little guy. In the morning, before school, we watch a PBS program or two, all of which tend to incorporate reading skills.

6 - Another great way to help a child learn to read is to switch on subtitles on your television and watch a documentary or two on Discovery Channel. These are educational programs and can help your child make the connection between a spoken word and its spelling on screen.

7 - Also, you might be surprised to realize how many reading opportunities your child can find while watching a ballgame on TV. Modern televised features offer a wealth of onscreen text – anything from players’ names to statistics, to results from other games – all of which can give your kiddo valuable reading practice and a greater understanding of the practical value of literacy.

In all of these examples, push your child’s understanding of the language. Don’t read for them; rather, help them sound out words carefully and at their own pace. If they don’t know what a word means, try defining it for them using a word they know . . . and then challenge them to spell that word!

So, start looking around now.  I bet you’ll be surprised how much there is to read all around you.
How are you promoting literacy in your home?

Katy Miller is the Director of Digital Marketing for Louisville-based, Atria Senior Living. She is a member of the Metro United Way Digital Engagement Council and studies emerging technology for the purpose of creating new ways of learning about, repositioning and changing public conversation about the process of aging.

In her spare time, Katy enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, watching college sports, sewing and reading.

You can reach Katy at mesewgood@gmail.com and on Twitter at @MediaDarlingKM

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