Today’s post is by Sarah Fudin who works in community relations for the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education’s online master’s programs. USC Rossier Online provides current and aspiring teachers the opportunity to earn an Online Masters in Education and become a teacher. Outside of work Sarah enjoys running, reading and Pinkberry frozen yogurt. You can reach Sarah via Twitter: @USCTeacher<https://twitter.com/#!/USCTeacher>
Reading is one of the most central aspects of your child’s educational development, especially during his or her early years.
Children from three to seven are curious about the world, eager to learn and excited about new discoveries. It is during these years that parents can instill a love for reading in children that will last a lifetime. It is the desire to learn through books and expand upon what they learn in the classroom, motivating learning from school through college, career and even adulthood.
While many children have a natural curiosity, they do not always take an interest in books. Some children may not like to read; they can be daunted by its technical aspects, the newness of words or an assumed monotony of sitting still with a book.
Children need to be stimulated, and you should look for ways to create an interactive reading experience.
This is especially important during the summer months, when children are not in school but should continue practicing the skills they’ve learned while building their foundation of knowledge. To help your children stay engaged with their books, stories and text, try some of these activities in connection with their summer reading list:
Take a Trip
You don’t need a teacher to plan a field trip. During the summer, taking your child on educational excursions can be a fun and creative way to get them excited about reading. With children’s books, it is easy to plan a trip centered on themes found in the narrative. If they are reading a book about animals, take them to the zoo to see these animals face to face. If you are reading a book about the solar system, take them to the planetarium. So many educational books deal with things that are ideally suited for fun trips to museums, national landmarks, aquariums, botanical gardens, national parks and natural attractions, that the opportunities are endless.
Create a Project
Children love arts and crafts, and encouraging creativity is an excellent way to stimulate your child’s interest in reading. Regardless of what your child is reading, you can create a project that ties the book with an artistic project. You can help your children build a model solar system or have them draw pictures of their favorite characters. Write a brief script for a puppet show that enacts a scene from a book, and have your child create the puppets and act out the scene. Science books often also provide at-home science experiments that are fun and educational.
Start a Book Club
Book Clubs might not be the first thing you think of when getting your three to seven year-olds excited about reading, but involving their friends is an excellent way to not only keep them interested, but to reinforce this interest through teamwork and group activities. You and other parents can coordinate play dates for your children to come together and read with one another, work on book-themed projects and even go on trips. Over the summer months, children don’t have daily interaction with their friends as they would during the school year, so this becomes a fun and educational way to keep your child socializing and learning.
Make Reading Rewarding
Rewarding children for reading is not about coaxing them into reading as much as it is about making them feel proud of their accomplishments. For young children, just finishing an entire book is a big deal! Reading is a skill that they should feel proud of, and one way to make them excited about it is to reward them. If your child is at the point where he or she can read an entire book without your help then make it a celebration. Take your child out for a special day trip or a treat of ice cream. Even simple verbal encouragement, like saying how proud you are, can go a long way.
Tie It in with Television
Incorporating television into reading is a strange idea, but it’s actually an innovative way to encourage your children to read. So many children’s television shows have books that tie into them, and you can tell if your child is going to like a series of book by seeing how he or she reacts to the television programs. If he or she likes The Magic School Bus or Dora the Explorer, then you can encourage him or her to read the books. When children are already familiar with the material, they’ll be excited to explore new aspects of their favorite characters or stories. You can also encourage them to watch a new show to see if they’d be interested in reading the books.
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