Saturday, April 12, 2014

Reading the World With Your Kids

Throughout the school year, parents usually ponder the skills that their children need to develop. Many parents choose to practice reading with their children, knowing that better reading skills bring better achievement in school and better understanding of life.
But, you ask, “How, in my hectic schedule, am I going to fit in time to sit down and read with my kids every night?” The solution is not to relegate reading to a specific time and place each day.
Reading can be practiced anywhere and everywhere! Opportunities to practice reading hide in your hectic schedule. Watch for them!
Reading skills can be gained throughout the day: on the drive to school, in the kitchen, at the grocery store, at the mosque, on the computer, at dinnertime. Alongside reading, expand your children’s knowledge of life and train them to deal with it. Here are some ideas:
Scan supermarket shelves. Help your kids check the grocery list, locate the correct aisle, scan product labels, and read ingredients on packages. Teach them how to search for specific ingredients and determine the nutritional value of a product.
Search for signs.As you drive or ride the bus, encourage your kids to read aloud traffic signs, parking notices, and names of streets and stores you pass. Teach them what traffic signs mean.
Navigate a map.Invite your kids to join your search for street names on a map before you head to a new location. Teach them how to navigate streets on a map as you ride the bus.
Check off lists.Have your kids read your grocery or “to do” list and brainstorm additions. Teach them how to organize lists into categories and prioritize.
Flip through the news.Point out bold words, photo captions, and headlines in the newspaper to your kids. Teach them how to skim for important information and question biases in articles.
Stir a recipe.Your kids can read instructions and measure ingredients from a recipe while you cook. Teach them the different measurement scales and their abbreviations.
Browse a menu.Browse the menu with your kids while you wait for food in a restaurant. Teach them how to select healthy items.
Sing along with lyrics.If your kids enjoy nasheeds, find the lyrics so they can read as they listen. Show them that songs are a medium to convey a message.
Follow instructions.Involve your kids when you assemble or learn to operate a new toy, appliance, or furniture. Teach them how to give and follow step-by-step instructions.
Study Qur’an.When your kids recite Qur’an or memorize a du`aa’, encourage them to read and understand the translation. Teach them the context of what they read and how to apply it.
Getting these opportunities to read in different contexts every day, children benefit in many ways:
Children learn a skill and use it at the same time, making it real and meaningful. In this way, kids observe that reading has a practical purpose and is a useful skill.
When kids read for a purpose, they extend their thinking beyond decoding texts and letters. They engage with the text to make meaning. This deeper processing leads to deeper understanding and deeper retention.
Diverse reading opportunities expose children to diverse vocabulary and genres, and promote diverse skills.
Kids practice different reading strategies for different purposes. A newspaper, for example, requires different reading skills than a map. This way they learn to negotiate different strategies for different goals.
Variety sparks interest. Kids won’t dread reading if it arrives in fun and unexpected places.
When kids read the world around them, they develop broader skills, interests, and knowledge. Encourage your kids to read anywhere and everywhere.