Parents are the child’s first and most important teachers. The Positive Parenting topics introduced on the Parent Portal gives parents useful information and practical ideas to use with their children.

The first of these topics discusses how parents can lay the foundation for success in reading as every parent wants their child to succeed at reading.

Reading grows out of a love of books and stories which begins early in life in the home. Children also need a fluent language base for success in reading and the miracle is that children acquire language(s) effortlessly as they listen to and pick up the words in the language(s) they hear in the home and in the child care centre.

What can parents do to lay the foundation for reading?

With babies

  • From early in life babies enjoy books and can show sustained attention in listening to a parent or other carer read a book so read aloud to your baby.
  • Make reading part of your daily routine. Share books with your baby whenever you have time, this should not be limited just to bed time.
  • Turn off the handphone, tablet when you read or share a story with your child. Give full attention to the sharing and show your enjoyment.
  • Out of a love of books develops the desire to read.
  • Help your baby to develop preferences for favourite books, e.g. borrow from the library some board books for babies. These are hard, thick-paged books that can endure over time.
  • If you can afford it, buy a few board books that you can constantly read to your baby.
  • Be aware of your baby’s developing language. They will understand language (receptive) before they can express it (expressive).

With toddlers

  • Continue to read aloud daily and build up the collection of books that your toddlers love.
  • Encourage your toddler to choose the books they want to read.
  • Encourage your child to comment on the book.
  • Foster your child’s language by describing or explaining the pictures with your toddler.
  • Toddlers need to develop listening skills. Have conversations with your child. Answer their questions fully.
  • Encourage your child to turn the pages as you read.
  • Run your finger along the text as you read. This will help the child associate what they hear with what they see.

With preschool-aged children

  • All of the above pointers apply to sharing books with pre-schoolers who by this time should have developed a strong interest in books.
  • Preschool-aged children will have developed a strong preference for certain books.
  • Many children in this age group will also enjoy information books. For example, certain interests will be maintained in whales, aeroplanes, ships, submarines, dinosaurs, space and many other topics.
  • Rhyming words and nonsense characters also appeal to this age group.
  • Always have books in the home in strategic places where they are accessible to children.
  • Choose books based on the contents rather than readers which are developed based on phonics patterns.
  • Young children enjoy books with repetitive text that they can read along with. When your child is familiar with the book, encourage your child to tell the story.
  • Older children enjoy picture books with a strong plot development.  Besides reading the story, spend time to talk about the pictures and characters in the book too.
  • Help the child to connect what is depicted in the book with their real life.
  • Focus on some words. E.g. get the child to point to words that they recognise or identify words that rhyme.

Concluding comments

Time given over to introducing babies to books and then building on this during the successive stages of learning will lay a wonderful foundation for the formal aspects of reading which will be taught in Kindergarten Two and Primary One.

Educators will build on and extend this foundation laid by parents who indeed have a long term stake in the future of their child.

Reading opens the door to lifelong learning.

The continuation of this topic in the next information flyer will focus on tips for choosing books and which books for each age group – Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers.