Learning to Read – Growing Your Child’s Comfort Zone

creativity is Intelligence having fun

Like everyone else, children have circles of preferences, which they like to exist within. As adults, our comfort zone makes us feel at ease and in charge of what’s going on around us, reducing anxiety and stress.

Children who just beginning to experience life – and gain a measure of control over it – are even more likely to stick within their comfort zone. This is often why younger children like reading the same book over and over, or watching the same show again and again. There is something comforting in knowing what will happen for a child who does not yet have the perception to see their bigger life picture.

While as adults, we are encouraged to “break out” of our comfort zone, children often need constant nudges to try new foods, experience new places. The advantage is of course, to build a rich experience while at the same time taking your life ability to the next level.

At a life level, this seems complex. But when applied to reading, we can see some of the proposed benefits.

Comfort in Fluency

Young readers like to stick to books they have read before perhaps reading with fluency. However how much of this is memorized and how much is actually being read can only be measured when the child tries reading something that he or she has not read before.

Comfort in Subject

Similarly, book subjects are often tailored for children: fictional characters, talking animals etc., with a goal to capture interest. By including non-fiction content early in a young reader’s life we can try to expand their interests at an early. Not all readers like fiction, and some may be stimulated into active reading by more variety in content.

Comfort in Comprehension

Levels of reading are often determined by comprehension, and yet contrarily we often see the most active readers have the best vocabulary and are way ahead of their reading levels. By restricting a child to a reading level, we are keeping them in the comfort zone of comprehension. Not understanding what they read is an excellent way to promote discussion and can lead to a broader awareness.

There are many discussions on how to nudge your child out of their comfort zones. Consider how some of these could apply to your child’s reading goals and you may come up with news ways to get your child reading better.

Say it with me… Reading Aloud is Great for Kids!

Reading Aloud

When you are good at reading, it is easy enough to be called on in class to read aloud. As a student who enjoyed books and reading, this was never a cringe-worthy moment for me.

However, as a student who joined late into learning a new language, I experienced the other side of the coin. Reading aloud in a language I was still learning, with a group that was far ahead was stressful and embarrassing.

As an adult, while reading aloud to my young daughter I’ve noticed the following benefits. Several of these are, I think, applicable in classroom reading as well:

  • Reading Aloud helps you quickly gauge your reading fluency. How fast you read, and whether you pause at the right places, cues the listener into both your reading and comprehension level at the same time.
  • Reading Aloud makes you conscious of pronunciation. Words that make you hesitate or slow you down (even as an adult!) are because of the uncertainty in pronunciation. Just as I used to look up the meaning of a word, I also find myself looking up correct pronunciation these days.
  • Reading Aloud ensures you don’t skip words or meanings. Sometimes when we read, we get the gist without taking in all the words. Reading aloud slows the reading process down and ensures you are reading complete sentences, thereby internalizing sentence construction and story structure.
  • Grammar and punctuation errors are often more obvious to the ear than the eye. When I worked as a copywriter and proofreader, I would regularly read aloud some paragraphs to check if they “sounded” right.
  • Reading Aloud can expand a child’s vocabulary. Words that are commonly used in speech can often be found in books. Young children exposed to these “big words” which they cannot read, helps raise comprehension and add new words to their vocabulary.
  • Reading Aloud tends to hold your focus deeply on the text. By physically vocalizing each word, ensuring right pause and pronunciation, the whole of your attention is on the reading material. This is an excellent way to train mental concentration, particularly, for young readers.

I was probably in the 5th grade before I was able to comparatively reflect on my lack of reading confidence in one class for the same task in the other. And I found my solution as well. Practice. When we were reading aloud in class, I would start counting the number of students to my turn, and then count the paragraph I would have to read aloud, and practiced silently till it was my turn.

And my teacher noticed… “VERY good, Vidya! Next.” Amazing what a small, yet timely praise could serve to encourage a student.

In hindsight, it also solidified my confidence to read and write in a new language.

A Mother’s Little Secrets To Bringing Up a Happy Reader

William Somerset Maugham once said, “To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.”

At various trying periods in my life I have found books to be a cushiony refuge; with me often emerging hours (or days) later refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to jump back into life.

As an adult and a mother of a precocious 4-year-old, I hope to be able to pass on my love of reading to my daughter, in the firmest belief that it will serve her lifelong.

Here are a few of my secrets which I think will make her an avid Reader:

I Read So She Reads. Children learn through imitation, and these days in addition to wearing my clothes and shoes and pretending to be me, my daughter also stacks her books next to my bedside table and “pretends” to read herself after I’ve read her the story.

Read Aloud Something Out of Her League. In addition to reading my daughter’s book to her, I also sometimes read my book aloud just so she can listen. She’s very curious about what I’m reading, and while she barely gets the gist, (and I sometimes have to skip sentences!) she loves listening to the nuances of conversation, and the emphasis and pauses I give while reading. I’ve noticed that it seems to soothe her and she often is listening even more attentively than when I read her books for the 68th time.

Books Are Also “Play”. When my daughter is looking for toys to take to grandma’s house, I often suggest she take a book as well. If she wants to play, reading is sometimes one of the choices. This isn’t to mean I try to force her to choose reading over other activities. What I am trying to do is group ‘reading and books’ along with ‘toys and fun’. My approach is not “let’s do something quiet like reading”, but more of “You’re bored? Shall we read something?”. Equating reading to toys, games and TV, communicates to her that reading can provide as much entertainment as the other activities.

Be Generous with the Little Extras. A snack, a reading nook, a cosy blanket. It all makes reading a little more appealing by association. My daughter likes building a little “fort” out of pillows and blankets and storing her books and snacks inside. I’m delighted.

Let’s Go to Your Library! Going to the library is as fun to my daughter as going anywhere else. It could be because it is “Her” library, where we only go for her books, (we buy on our Kindles) so the experience revolves entirely around her. No doubt that makes the trip very special.

8 Creative Ways to Get Reluctant Readers to Read

According to a study led by Lee Rainie of the Pew Research Center, about 23% of 1005 participants (randomly called via landline and cell phone) had not read a book in the past year, including ebooks, printed books, or audiobooks. With the massive influx of information that students receive on a daily basis thanks to the Internet, it is not a surprising statistic. Not surprising, but quite alarming.

The Benefits of Reading

Reading is known to have some obvious benefits, such as improving vocabulary and of course increasing the breadth of knowledge that one has. But recent studies have shown some other less known benefits of reading.

Reading improves your ability to step into another person’s shoes. 

While it has been known that reading can put you figuratively in a character’s shoes, recent brain scans using MRI technology have shown that reading a book can “transport you into the body of the protagonist.” This ability to empathize with another person’s experiences is a powerful and important tool that students will use throughout their lives, whether in the professional setting or in their personal lives.

Reading improves your ability to visualize in the same way athletes do.

According to an article on Psychology Today, the act of reading (and more specifically, reading fiction) improves the reader’s proverbial imagination muscle, thus allowing them to create stronger visualizations that are similar to techniques used by athletes. This study conducted by a group from the Department of Biomedical Engineering of the Lerner Research Institute in Ohio shows that visualization can actually improve performance even without actual physical practice. This visualization process is beneficial to students, whether they’re training for athletics or for any other purpose

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How to Get Kids to Read Independently

The Scholastic Kids & Family Reading ReportTM: Fifth Edition is out and offers a snapshot of where young people are when it comes to reading independently.

Here are some of the findings of a nationally representative survey conducted last fall by Scholastic in conjunction with YouGov. Some of the results are surprising, including the fact that kids prefer to read books in print.

Following the findings is an analysis of what they mean for parents and teachers:

The State of Kids & Reading

  • Half of all children ages 6–17 (51%) are currently reading a book for fun and another one in five (20%) just finished one.
  • Both parents of children ages 6–17 (71%) and kids (54%) rank strong reading skills as the most important skill a child should have. Yet while 86% of parents say reading books for fun is extremely or very important, only 46% of kids say the same.
  • Three-quarters of parents with children ages 6–17 (75%) agree “I wish my child would read more books for fun,” and 71% agree “I wish my child would do more things that did not involve screen time.

Spotlight: What Makes Frequent Readers

  • Frequent readers, defined as children who read books for fun 5–7 days a week, differ substantially in a number of ways from infrequent readers—those who read books for fun less than one day a week. For instance, 97% of frequent readers ages 6–17 say they are currently reading a book for fun or have just finished one, while 75% of infrequent readers say they haven’t read a book for fun in a while.
  • Children ages 6–11 who are frequent readers read an average of 43.4 books per year, whereas infrequent readers in this age group read only 21.1 books annually. An even more profound difference occurs among children ages 12–17, with frequent readers reading 39.6 books annually and infrequent readers reading only 4.7 books per year.

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