Learning to read

All parents would like their children to become good readers. Yet parents are sometimes not too sure what they can do to help. Some parents, in their desire to develop their child’s literacy skills, may push too hard too early. Pushing a child who isn’t ready is usually counterproductive. The parent becomes more and more frustrated, while the child begins to associate learning to read with anxiety and failure.

On the other hand, other parents are so confused and intimidated by conflicting theories regarding the so-called “one right way” to teach reading that they decided to leave it entirely to the teacher and the school. In so doing, they unfortunately deprive their child of the unique learning environment which only the home can provide.

In determining reading readiness, it is essential to take one’s cue from the individual child. The child’s age alone is not an adequate indicator. Some children who are not yet ready to begin reading will be content to listen to a story being read or just look at the pictures.

The child who is ready will want you to identify words in her favorite books. When your child starts pushing you, rather than the other way around, it’s a good indicator that she is probably ready for reading.

How to foster a love of reading in the home: One of the best ways for parents to foster a love of
reading in all children is by reading stories aloud. Even after children have learned to read, they still enjoy having a story read to them. This should always be a fun activity —such as at bedtime—for both parent and child. Even in the daytime, a reading period should be limited to no more than 30 minutes at a time. As soon as the child shows signs of restlessness, it is best to stop and resume the reading at a later time.

Here are some suggestions that will help to make reading to your child at home more beneficial and enjoyable:
• Let your child have input—such as a particular interest or favourite author—in choosing the books to be read.
• Look over the material beforehand before reading it to your child.
• Choose a comfortable and relaxed setting.
• Let your child know the importance of this reading time together by eliminating distractions or interruptions, such as the phone, television or games.
• Read the book in a lively and animated manner, using a different tone of voice for the different characters in the story.
• Look frequently into your child’s eyes to maintain active interaction.
• Pause periodically to discuss what is happening in the story or to raise some questions. (“Is the little dog afraid?” “What do you think the girl should do next?”)
• Discontinue reading—until some later time—if your child appears bored or restless.

Other ways to stimulate your child’s interest in reading: Some parents put identifying labels on objects in the child’s room: bed, door, drawer, chair. Parents can also point out words on vegetable cans, cereal boxes, t-shirts, signs and billboards. The more a child becomes aware of the written word in everyday living, the more interested she will become in learning to read.

Using the public library: Parents can also make use of the children’s section at the local public library. This is a very good way to learn about an individual child’s special interests.

Connecting reading with writing: It is also a good practice to connect reading with writing. Help your child develop a story which you can write down. When you read it back to her, point to each word as you say it. After reading her own story to her a number of times, invite her to read it with you, helping her with the words she doesn’t recognize. It is best, at this stage, to ignore any errors she makes as this will only inhibit her desire to learn.

Finally, recognize and encourage her for the good job she’s done in writing—and reading—her very own Story!

 

The GROWING TOGETHER NEWSLETTER is issued by; GROWING CHILD Inc., and is distributed free, courtesy of:
THE LIFESTART FOUNDATION,
2, Springrowth House, Balliniska Rd.,
Springtown Ind. Estate, L’Derry BT48 OGG
Tel: 028 71365363.
E-mail: headoffice@lifestartfoundation.org
Website: www.lifestartfoundation.org

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Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

What is infant mental health?

Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.

 

The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books (www.mychild.ie/books) and also on www.MyChild.ie  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.

 

In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  

 

Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  

 

In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the www.mychild.ie website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

These new video resources are available here while lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found at www.mychild.ie

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from healthy.childhood@hse.ie

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