Monday, April 27, 2009

Enjoying Reading Without It Becoming A Chore

In the past week, I have had so many families talk with me about "making sure their child" reads before the son or daughter goes to kindergarten. When I ask them "why", the response is usually "I want them to be ahead of everyone else". Again, I ask "why"?

Research from early childhood, pediatrics, psychology all agree that pushing children too soon can backfire. I strongly believe that if you are enjoying and exploring read alouds with your child, playing with the language (banana fana fo fana kind of stuff), and talking (not just at your child but with them), using lots of varied language, you child WILL read when he/she is physiologically and emotionally and mentally ready. My son who read early never had one phonics lesson, never did I flash card him, never did he have anything but the most delicious experiences with books being read to him. He simply started reading when he was ready.

PLEASE consider that with your child. If you press your child to read too soon, he/she is likely to lose any temporary benefit gained by the time 3rd grade is reached. If, instead, the child is given the opportunity to start reading at his or her "optimal time", it is likely that child will excel.

Dr. Michael Pressley once said, "If we give do not give children mostly positive experiences with reading, they will not choose to be readers." That is so true. Jim Trelease echoes that idea when he says, "What we teach children to love and desire will always outweigh what we teach them to do."

Have fun, relax, enjoy your child and his/her interaction with you and the book. Make it fun. Be silly, act out voices, compete with the TV and computer for your child's reading soul!