by Lila Mago
Reading is essential to academic success for all children. Not only does reading help improve brain development, early literacy enables academic success through introducing the skills of processing and comprehension. However, in the state of Arizona, only 4 out of every 10 students can read at their grade level. Statistics show children who struggle to read by 4th grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school, putting their future in jeopardy. This is why it is so important to incorporate reading into your child’s life from a young age. At the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, we believe reading is a vital skill for children to learn to love. We strive to accomplish our mission of emphasizing “early childhood education and school-readiness” by encouraging literacy across all of our exhibits. By including reading in your child’s life, you are not only enhancing their brain development but the foundation of their education as a whole.
Where do I start?
Maintaining open communication with your child is key to growing their vocabulary and familiarity with words. Research shows that 90% of a child’s brain development occurs before they reach the age of 5. Children surrounded by parents and caregivers who talk, read, and sing to them tend to develop larger vocabularies, and therefore become better readers and perform better in school. Maintaining contact with all forms of language during this impressionable stage of life will provide your child with a strong foundation for language and literacy development. Furthermore, the Arizona Governor’s Office of Education recognizes reading aloud as “the single most important activity leading to literacy acquisition.” Reading aloud to your child is especially helpful in promoting literacy because it introduces kids to more complex words as well as new words which might not be heard in a family’s daily routine. By reading aloud children will become more familiar with the concept of reading and grammatical structures taught in school.
How can I make reading fun for my child?
As a parent, it is important to make your child feel comfortable instead of intimidated around books. Here are some fun tips we recommend to promote literacy and help your child learn to love to read:
- Read books that align with your child’s interests such as cars, princesses, etc. and then progress to different types of stories.
- Ask your child questions while they are reading to help engage their minds. Try and connect your child’s life to what’s happening in the book to help them better understand the story.
- Act out the story, integrate funny voices and intonation, your child will become much more engaged with the book.
- If possible, read in a fun environment. Make a pillow fort with your child and then read with them inside of it.
- Have your child decorate a bookmark to use when they read.
- (For older children) After coming home from a tiring activity, have your child relax with a book for 15 minutes before moving on to television or electronics.
- Explore different types of books. Listening to audiobooks counts as it helps with strengthening vocabulary.
Developing and maintaining literacy in your child’s life is essential to promoting healthy habits and the start of a successful education. When you engage, read, and listen to your child daily, you are instilling a love of learning that will last a lifetime.
About the Author
Lila is a high school student in Phoenix who loves to write and grew up playing in CMoP’s Noodle Forest! The Museum is thrilled to have Lila intern with the Museum this summer where she can feed her love of writing and the Museum at the same time!