Turn kids into lifelong readers
When it's fun, kids love to do it, and they usually improve rapidly. But when it's not, reading becomes a struggle.
"No parent wants to battle with their kids about reading - - sure, it's an essential skill, but it ought to be fun. And it can't be fun for kids who are discouraged," says Raquel Jaramillo, editor of the "Brain Quest Reading" card game series.
Since reading is the single most important tool that a student needs to achieve academic success, the challenge for parents of young children becomes finding the right resources to sow the seeds of a long-lasting love of learning.
Here are some easy ways to turn virtually any child into an avid reader:
• The world is your book. Words and phrases are everywhere: in stores, on trains, on billboards and signs, and the back of every cereal box. Point them out to your child whenever possible.
• Be an enthusiastic listener. Switch roles and have your child read to you at bedtime. This is a great way to build your child's confidence in reading. Also, encourage your child to sound out new words, and avoid correcting all but the most significant mistakes -- and ask lots of questions.
• Storytime! Read to your child every day if you can. Studies show that children who are read to every day by a parent or caregiver are more likely to excel at reading at an earlier age.
• Keep a reading log. Have your child keep a reading log (visit www.brainquest.com to download one). This is a great way to mark a child's progress and find favorite types of books and authors.
• Talk books and authors. Have conversations with your child about the books and authors you loved as a kid and why they meant a lot to you.
• Book a "Book Day." Take your child to the library or bookstore as often as possible -- try to designate at least one day a week as "book day."
• Start a children's book club. Kids love the idea of clubs, and even a small one can go a long way toward making reading a social activity. Try acting out scenes from a book to bring the stories to life. Help guide the conversation when needed.
• Play reading games. There are several reading toys and games on the market, such as the "Brain Quest Reading for Grades 1, 2 and 3" card game quiz series, that you can play with kids of different ages. This card game doesn't require batteries and can be played at home or even taken with you in the car or plane when you go on vacation.
• Follow the leader: your child! Children learn in different ways and at different speeds. Build on your child's successes and don't dwell on aspects of reading they may not comprehend. Let your child's areas of interest guide you. Children often like to read collections of stories or books by the same author. Feed their curiosity.
• Books are the right gift. Value books. Give books as presents for holidays, birthdays and vacation. Encourage your child to select a book that he or she especially loved as a gift for a friend.
• Ready, set, read! Set a good example and read (a book, magazine or newspaper). As long as your child knows how important reading is to you, he or she will learn that reading is an everyday, vital act of life.
Free reading resources for parents and reading games for kids are available at www.brainquest. com, where parents can also learn about "Brain Quest Math," a fun and educational game covering essential math skills.