The earlier our children are encouraged to read, the better. Picture: PxHere

Teaching your children to read is, perhaps, one of the most important contributions we as parents can make to our children’s lives. 

Research has shown that foundational literacy skills directly influences the path a student will take later on in life; what opportunities they can access; what career path they can create and; ultimately what individual socio-economic improvements will occur. 

Dr Corrin Varady, chief executive of IDEA Digital Education, believes that by following these five tips, parents can not only improve their child’s love of reading, but also give their children an opportunity at a great quality of life.

Start early

The earlier our children are encouraged to read, the better. Early childhood development specialists say that a child’s cognitive function is most powerful in the first six years of their lives, so teaching them to read helps drive this development, which in turn assists them in reading for meaning and helps them grow into independent thinkers with more advanced communication skills.

Increase their access

Surround your child with as many books and digital reading materials as possible. Children are naturally curious and increasing access to books is one of the first obstacles we need to overcome. Ease of access will increase interest, inspire exploration and browsing, and before you know it a bookworm may soon develop. 

Also, make time for reading: set aside 20-30 minutes and read aloud with your children every day. Reading with your child has been proven to transform the desire to read and their ability to read out aloud. Discussing what they just read is an easy way to get students reading for meaning as it reinforces concepts, ideas and narrative structure.

Reading rewards

Some children are naturally more interested in reading. If your child is a reluctant reader, develop a reward system for reading by using the things they would rather do as rewards for completing reading tasks. 

We have to break the stigma associated with reading and so positive, constructive rewards can also make reading less of a task and more of an enjoyable life skill. If you enjoy reading to your children, they will pick up these positive signals and want to read independently. 

Problem-solving with reading

Engaging your children in word games and word problems is another way to get your children to continue their indirect reading skills while increasing their vocabulary, improving their problem-solving skills and increasing their higher-order thinking. A simple Google search will turn up simple, inexpensive or free word games that you can start playing with your kids today, both digital and non-digital. 

Use technology

If reading to your child isn’t possible, don’t be embarrassed and don’t ignore it either. Get one of the digital reading tools like MyIDEA and get your children learning literacy skills. Ultimately our job is to develop a self-directed learner using technology, so feel free to do that. As parents, we sometimes worry about the wrong things when it comes to technology. 

All screen time is not bad. In fact, the studies around screen time, don’t fairly partition educational technology and social media. The time spent learning on a device is better than time spent on social media and watching videos. So make sure you have a good technology-use policy at home and use digital learning to help your children.