Growing up, I remember the emphasis my parents put on the importance of reading. My Dad´s study doubled as a small library, jammed wall to wall with classics. We also had our own ceiling to floor bookshelf in our bedroom, lined with books of all genres.
My Dad would read us a story every night, without fail, be it The Hobbit, Jamaica Inn or a Fairy Tale. Whenever we went on holiday my parents would remind us to pack a book. If we went to the beach we were encouraged to take a book with us. If we were bored, my Parents would suggest we read a book, and so, our love of reading was nurtured.
With my own son, my Husband and I read him stories every night, one in Spanish – Dad and one in English – Mum.We have read to Oliver every single day since he was six months old and I can really see the benefits of it.
Oliver is well ahead at school with his reading now, and I am happy to say that he is happy to read us his story books at night now, or read to himself in bed at the weekends if he wants to be awake for a little bit longer.
Not long ago Oliver was raving about his book corner at school, which is literally a little plastic chair and a bookshelf in the corner of his classroom.
I wanted to make Oliver a book corner of his own at home so, as his playroom is so busy with toys and distractions, I made a place for him behind the sofa.
The one thing I´m missing here still is a chair, although there are cushions. For some reason – don´t ask me why- it seems to make a difference for Oliver when sitting on a chair or on a cushion, with regards to how long he will sit here. Oliver is a bit of a fidgeter and maybe lying on the floor makes it too tempting to just do roly-polys everywhere! 😉
I also don´t just keep story books here. I keep workbooks, Fiction, Non-Fiction and Leap Frog computers that work on Phonics and writing skills.
Oliver also has a book chest in his bedroom for bedtime stories. I liked the idea I had seen on Pinterest many times of putting the word ´Books´ or ´Read´ on the wall where eventually, now that Oliver´s book collection has grown, I hope my husband will put up some shelving for me.
I bought some wooden letters from ´Casa,´ a shop here in Spain, and I painted them with some of Oliver´s favourite book genres, Adventure – Pirates and Knights, Superheroes – Spiderman and Dinosoaurs!
I think it´s very important to nurture a child´s reading in as many different ways as possible. In our house I have always used the stairs as a fun way of learning. When Oliver was very little we would count them as we went up and down. As he got older I stuck a letter of the alphabet (upper and lower case) to each side of each step, to practice the phonics Alphabet sounds.
Now that Oliver is five and he is whizzing ahead with reading, I am using the stairs to focus on tricky words and written number words, as although he knows his numbers from 1-100, he sometimes doesn´t recognise the words for the numbers.
There are so many creative ways to get your kids reading and writing. None of them have to be straightforward like picking up a book and reading or writing out sentences. When you are out and about with your kids, get them reading signs, Restaurant Menus, words on the packaging in shops.
How about turning walks into a game of ´I spy´ and getting your kids to write down what they see or to tick it off on a list they have to read
At home, get your kids reading the names on familiar things like cereal boxes or download some reading Apps. For writing get children outside, with large pieces of paper they can scribble, paint or write on. Remember, writing is a skill that becomes easier with improving motor skills. When kids start writing, it doesn´t have to be letter after letter or word after word. Get them doing zig zag lines, joining dots and painting whatever they feel. Pretty soon they will progress on to letters which will soon become clearer as they practice and the strength in their wrists and hands improves (also through practice at holding anything – a pencil, a paintbrush.)
Of course, not all children move at the same pace, and some will take longer than others to get started or to progress. Don´t rush your kids, just nurture their learning. Reading and writing can be a fun, family affair, so get invlved and see the benefits for you and your kiddies.