A great listening tool! Great language learning tool! Great conversation starter!
I love to read! Anyone who knows me knows how busy I am. And, I bet, they know my love of reading as well. Just because you are busy does not mean you don’t have time for a good book. You’d be surprised at how we can all fit in a good read. Friends ask me about a children’s book, and if I don’t know it, I’m asking questions or asking where to buy it. Friends tell me about a current novel and if I’m not asking questions, I’m looking it up to buy or read on my Kindle; and let me point out, both of those areas involve some reading.
Friends can have any conversation with me, even one about a book I’ve read, and I will listen and talk to them, and, both parties enjoy a few minutes of interaction. I love to read! How do my friends know this? By the listening I do, by the language I use, and by the conversations we have.
I always tell parents that reading can never happen too soon or be enjoyed too much. Even if reading takes place for as little as five to ten minutes a day, it’s great to be reading. It, for me, is one of the great foundations for listening, speaking, and sharing. All three of which make up components for language and conversation. Don’t you remember when you were little, or when your little ones were tiny babies you sang to them, told them a story, or just had one of those whimsical conversations everyone understood? Where did we get the ability to do that – from the same interaction we had with our parent, and they had with their parent, and so on and so forth. Those things, I guarantee, happened because they heard the rhyme/story from someone who read it somewhere. They loved it so much, they listened and passed it on through conversation.
There are a few key points through children’s development that can encourage the love of reading and spark conversation.
Babies and Toddlers
Sharing a picture and talking about what they and you see. Even if all you get is that rhythm and jargon of speech, your baby and/or toddler is having a conversation. Acknowledge it and point out that you are listening and telling them the same thing. “Oh yes, I see that big bird. And right there (pointing to the page and word) is his name. Did you know his name was Bubba…what a funny name?”
Toddlers and School-Aged Children
Sharing a picture/reading book. Children love to tell a story while looking at pictures. Acknowledge that they are telling a story and reading a book. Acknowledge that they are great at seeing what’s going on and you remember what they said and how it really does go with the story.
(Oh my! Look at you reading a book! Can I read some? Let’s share. Here is the hen (pointing to picture and word) and here is the lazy dog that doesn’t help (pointing to picture and reading the sentence "the dog says, 'I won’t help.' " Well, that was not very nice, what do you think?)
Or (Who was that? Who made all that happen?) There you go, you are having a conversation!
And did you notice you are asking and answering questions?
School-aged children into middle-school
Share and/or discuss the library book, or assigned book. Make it a point to spend five or ten minutes after your child gets home, after dinner, or before bed to read a little with your child. Even if it’s one page, read.
I know, I know, I’ve been there. There are so many other things going on and other children to get ready for the next activity or next day. Sharing a book or talking about what your child has read is not a reading lesson, it’s an interaction. Most of the frustration with parents and children is because we (as adults) correct reading. We want so much for our child to read, that we forget it is about the conversation or adventure of the story. So what if they don’t get it right the first time?
If we show interest in what they are reading rather than how they are reading, what a great conversation we will have. Bring your love of the story to the reading session rather than your teaching hat. (I love that book, because I know that the word you just read is all about …….when I was little my mom told me that (...you fill in the blank..) was about…..)
It is an enjoyable moment. Let the teachers worry about sounding out words and the fluency of reading. You enjoy sharing the story and the reading will come.
High School and Teenagers
Sharing anything is very encouraging! Having a conversation when my son was a teenager was the highlight of my day! Just getting him to say hello was a blessing in disguise! But honestly, communication is a learned skill. As a parent or the communication partner that knows better, we have to realize that communication or conversation is a choice. I had to keep telling myself that my son would communicate with me in his own way and in his own time. If the day brought a long silly conversation or simply a smiley face on a piece of paper on the refrigerator I was happy! He communicated!
Lastly, because we are our child’s first conversation partner, it is important to realize that reading is an avenue to share a conversation. Conversation, sharing, and listening is the key to any good language base. We build our child’s knowledge of language and we should want it to be a good foundation.
Don’t be timid! Let’s enjoy what we know and share it! Establish within your child the confidence to communicate no matter what avenue of communication is chosen; encourage problem solving but always be aware that you are your child’s own best partner and advocate – build in them the desire to want to know everything – and help them find it through listening, speaking, and reading!
Cathy Chapman M.S., CCC
LSLS Certified, Auditory-Verbal Educator
RDSPD-Bonham Oral Classes