We know that the best way to teach children to read is to start early. Some people don't realise that you can start reading to babies straight away. Many people think that it is a bit pointless to read to new born babies as they don't understand but babies are taking in information straight away and the more vocabulary they hear form early on the better. They also come to associate reading with cuddles and undivided attention.
Once babies become toddlers books are even more important. Being used to handling and enjoying books gives children an edge over their peers who are not read to regularly. Continuing reading time is vital at all ages, even once children can read for themselves, story time is still very important!
This is advice for parents but what can we do as teachers when we have children that have not been fortunate enough to have had this experience? We only have a limited number of hours a day with these children and it is impossible to replicate the amount of reading time that a parent can. However there are various things we can do to maximise the time that children do get read to in class.
Firstly, make time for a story. Even older children love story time, sharing a class book together is so important. It can be a calming down time and creates a sense of bonding in the class. Make sure this story time is ring fenced in your timetable and not pushed aside (as so easily can happen when there are so many other pressing events!)
Another way to give children opportunities to hear stories being read is with spoken books. During guided reading you could have a group that listens to a story. You can have them read along with the actual book but even just being read to can be hugely beneficial, particularly with reluctant readers.
Drama is another great way to include reading in your classroom. Encourage the kids to act out the parts of the story they like the most. Reading the dialogue and experimenting with the characters in the story allows them to create deeper bonds with the text.
Finally setting reading as home work is a great way to ensure parents are aware of the importance, but make sure that the choice of book doesn't make it feel like a chore. You don't want them counting the minutes or pages until they can stop.
There are many great ways to encourage reading. We just have to look for them.
I have many reading lessons in my store pleases stop by and have a look.
If you are an early years practitioner, please take a look at this post on Teaching in the Early Years.
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