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Learning to read: how to motivate your child

Reading is essential for academic success. How do you motivate your child to learn? Being able to read is necessary for the proper functioning of daily life. It is also an essential skill for academic success and the foundation of all learning. Parents can play an important role in motivating children in this area and helping them develop their reading skills.

The Benefits of Reading

Reading has many advantages. Over time, your child will discover that reading allows :

  • communicate and share ideas;
  • to become informed;
  • understand instructions;
  • to dive into worlds that stimulate the imagination;
  • to develop patience and the ability to concentrate;
  • to preserve memory (the written word remains);
  • to access a mass of knowledge accumulated over time;
  • to develop thinking.

It has to be fun, and that’s the first thing you can teach your child: reading is fun.

Steps to Learning to Read

Learning to read is a gradual process. Here are the different stages of learning to read. But remember that every child is different and learns at his or her own pace.

Toddler

  • He becomes familiar with the letters and understands that what is written in the same from one time to the next. Rhymes and songs are also a good way to learn letters and words.
  • He manipulates the book and looks at the pictures.
  • He learns that you read from left to right.

Preschool age (4-5 years old)

  • He makes connections between sounds and letters.
  • He understands that his ideas can be written on a page.
  • He understands that text can tell a story.

Beginner reader, school-age

  • He identifies words and understands that when you put several words together, they make sense.
  • He can predict the course of a story or a sequence of events.
  • He is interested in various kinds of reading and makes it an activity himself.
  • He makes connections between his personal experience and a story he has read.

How do you prepare and help your child to read?

There are many ways to get your child interested in reading. Your example and support will make a difference. Here are some suggestions:

If you have difficulty reading yourself, don’t hesitate to ask for help to improve. It’s never too late to learn.

  • Read with your child. Make it a special time;
  • Make reading time a part of your child’s daily routine, at bedtime, for example;
  • When your child starts to read, ask him or her to read a story aloud to you. Be patient. They will read slowly and make mistakes, but this activity will motivate them and help them learn. Be enthusiastic and praise them for their efforts;
  • Have him listen to audiobooks. Audiobooks allow you to follow the words in a book and hear them at the same time. This will help your child’s learning;
  • Write short messages to your child: a letter pinned on the refrigerator or the bulletin board in his room, a nice little word slipped into his lunch box;
  • Ask the child questions about his or her reading. This will allow them to discuss their understanding of the story with you. This will help them to better express their ideas or opinions;
  • Show the child the purpose of reading. For example, ask them to help you read a recipe or the signs on the road and to help you write the grocery list;
  • Take him/her to cultural activities related to reading, such as a visit to the library or a bookstore animation. Make it a leisure activity, a joyful event;
  • Involve your child in creating a special place for reading in the home;
  • Try to have all kinds of reading materials in your home: books, magazines, newspapers, grocery flyers. Borrow books from the local library regularly. Also think about having everything you need for writing: notebooks, pencils, pens;
  • Let him choose books he likes;
  • Ask the children’s bookstore, the librarian, or the teacher to give you suggestions for reading according to your child’s age and tastes. There are also several websites on children’s literature.

Reading with your child

Even when your child starts to learn to read, keep reading stories. Your child can then follow in the book at the same time as you tell. This activity creates an intimate moment between you and your child. It also shows the importance you place on reading.

Reading a story together can also be an opportunity to talk about a moment in their life and discuss it together. For example, if you read the story of a child starting school or a child who has fought with his best friend, he will recognize himself and be able to tell you what he thinks and feels about it.

It’s also a good idea to set aside some time to read quietly side by side, to make it a pleasant moment of intimacy. Your child tends to imitate you. He will feel proud to be able to do what you do. Think of it as an opportunity to share. If you take an interest in the books he likes, he will feel that he is important to you.

If the child is having difficulties

If you think your child is having trouble learning, talk to his or her teacher first and, if necessary, see your family doctor. There may be signs that your child is having difficulty reading:

  • Your child has trouble recognizing letters and words;
  • He cannot associate a letter with a sound;
  • He doesn’t follow the thread of a story well;
  • He doesn’t make connections between a story and his own experience;
  • He doesn’t pay much attention when you read a story out loud;
  • He can’t write his name down.

It is also possible that your child has a vision or hearing problem or a neurological disorder such as dyslexia (which causes difficulty distinguishing letters). If this is the case, it is best to have an assessment by a professional as soon as possible so that ways can be put in place to help your child’s learning. If you have concerns about this, don’t hesitate to talk to your child’s teacher.

However, keep in mind that every child is different and that each child’s pace should be respected.

Resources and References

Note: Hyperlinks to other sites are not updated on an ongoing basis. It is therefore possible that a link may become untraceable. In such a case, use the search tools to find the desired information.

  • GIASSON, Jocelyne. Reading: Learnings and difficulties. GaĆ©tan Morin editor, 2011.
  • KIDS HEALTH. School-Age Readers. 2013. kidshealth.org
  • THE BRAIN AT ALL LEVELS! The links between thought and language. lecerveau.mcgill.ca
  • RAISING CHILDREN NETWORK. Developing literacy. 2014. raisingchildren.net.au
  • RAISING CHILDREN NETWORK. Literacy activities for children. 2014. raisingchildren.net.au
  • RAISING CHILDREN NETWORK. Reading and storytelling with babies and children. 2015. raisingchildren.net.au

Resources for parents