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happylittlegems education fact of the day:

Young children whose parents read them five books a day start school having heard about 1.4 million more words than children who were never read to.

I am always shocked by the number of children who turn up to school having never seen a book, who try hard to swipe the pages and whose spoken language is very poor. It is so important that we read to our children from birth in order for them to get the best start in life. Reading has so many benefits: improving concentration, language acquisition, understanding the world, developing imagination and empathy and it's a time for you as parents to bond with your children. If you've got a young baby or child, or are about to send your four or five year old off to school in September here's a checklist of things you can do now to help them get the best start at learning to read.


happylittlegems top tips on how to teach your child to read:

  • Read with young children every day. It doesn't have to be before bedtime - although that's always a good time, but read with them at different times throughout the day. This is a great way of settling them down for a bit of quiet time and helps develop the concept that those funny patterns and squiggles on a page have meaning. They also begin to hear different patterns of language in order to develop their spoken and then written language.

  • Sing nursery rhymes and read rhyming books, again it helps with their language acquisition and research suggests that children should be able to recite eight nursery rhymes by the age of four in order to be a good reader. For more information on this read my happylittlegems blog from February about the importance of nursery rhymes.

  • Make story time fun. Use expression when reading and use different voices for characters, even find some props if you can. If you're really creative make up some stories!

  • Buy some picture books. Before children learn any phonics they start their reading journey by re-telling stories based on the pictures. This cements the understanding that books tell stories. When your child is re-telling the story correct any grammatical mistakes by repeating their words but with the grammar corrected or add some more descriptive words or story language in their. Again, this helps their language acquisition - remember you are their greatest teacher.

  • Make sure Dad reads too. It's important (especially for boys) for children to see and hear Dad reading, otherwise they will think it's something only girls do and that has a negative effect on their reading ability as they will lose enthusiasm. Even if it's Grandad, Uncle or a close family friend make sure boys see and hear men reading.

  • Attend workshops or evenings organised by your child's school. Most schools invite parents in (especially Reception parents) to teach you how to read with your child or give you a brief insight into phonics. Go, learn, help your child.

  • Once your child is reading remember 'little and often' is best. They will be so worn out from their day at school and they may not have the stamina to read whole books yet, so just do 5 minutes every evening and try to do it as early as possible before they get too tired. If they are too tired share a book with them instead. Most teachers are very understanding, but just write a quick note in their reading diary to tell them.

For more reading or education advice please visit www.happylittlegems.com

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