Learning through reading:Reading aloud to your child will nurture the child’s learning process
I was never friendly with children. In fact, they were scared of me. But when my sister had a baby, I changed for better reasons. Every day the baby grew older and he became very fond of me. I also started spending more time with the children
in my locality. I began to observe the behavioural patterns of children in general and my nephew in particular. I was always interested in psychology but my interests became more
specific and I began reading about child psychology and lots of books on raising kids.
Most scholars and educators conclude that the learning process starts very early. A child begins to learn from infancy. As a parent or a teacher you would want your children to learn better and quicker. That’s where reading comes in: reading aloud can nurture a child’s learning process. Why do you think a mother or nanny speaks continually with babies? In fact, they are helping the child learn by assisting him or her to recognise sound.
Children will show different reactions when you begin to read aloud to them. You must comprehend the different stages of reading aloud. As you set yourself on this task, you will find that the child at first becomes a listener and then an observer. Once the reading aloud sessions become a regular activity, child participation increases. They will begin to show expressions on their faces, raise questions, and ask to reread some lines.
There are different ways of reading aloud. Your voice tempo and the text you read depends on the age of the child you are reading to. To encourage your child’s social interactivity, you have to embellish the text with questions, extensions, and dramatisations in a way that engages him or her. If the child is between three and five years, you have to read with an expressive voice, using sound effects for things such as animals, vehicles, and actions. Draw out the animal sounds: Meow-meow, vow-vow. For example, open and shut both hands to imitate a twinkling star when you are singing ‘’twinkle, twinkle.’’ It is recommended that one take the child on the terrace or garden at night, and look at the stars, and let him or her notice the twinkling, as you sing the rhyme.
If it is a book with illustrations or a touch-and-feel book you are reading from, wait for a few seconds to give your child response time. Help your toddler touch the different textures on each page with his little hand. Hold and cuddle the child when you are reading. Ask him or her if he would like to turn the page. Help them to physically interact with the book by holding their hand and pointing their finger to the illustrations.
While reading aloud to the children of five to seven, remember to pause very often. Remain on each page as long as they show interest. Respond to your children’s queries and make eye contact. Ask them questions based on reading. If they can’t answer, give them clues, and help complete the sentence. Engage in conversation by taking turns, looking at the children and then responding to them.
The children between the age of seven and ten must not at once be burdened by introducing clumsy texts. Allow your child to be your guide while looking for reading material. By making that choice, you will give your child a powerful boost for language development. The most important thing about your reading session is that you are providing love, attention and intimacy.
You don’t have a compulsion to finish a book and you can start at any place. Perhaps read and re-reread the section your child likes the most. You can dramatise different parts with a variety of voice inflections and tones. Your children may even want to hear you reading different books in one single reading session. They may also want to you to reread. Repeated readings are good for children’s language development. Children love to hear the same story again and again.
Know the interest of your children as they begin to grow up. You have to be careful about the reading text. When you are reading to children between ten and fifteen years of age, you have to be careful not to generalise the interests of the daughter and the son.
Try to be consistent regarding your reading time. If you have a fixed reading time, everyday your child will begin to look forward to the time. Even if your children are not interested, don’t give up. Make the reading schedule a regular process. Think that your reading aloud is not so different from any instructions regarding how to ride a bike. You don’t give up because he fell off the bike a couple of times, do you? In the course of time, your daily activity of reading aloud will show positive results, and before you know it, the children will be reading to you.
source: Ghimire, Vinay(2011),"Learning through reading", The Kathmandu Post, 22 Oct 2011
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