Koreen Paterson is QWERTY’s licensed educational psychologist (LEP). She has written a 3-part series on reading with children, the first of which we present here. She writes from the perspective of not only being an LEP, but also from that of a mother who has made the decision to home school her children.
Home-schooling my daughters, now in kindergarten and first grade respectively, has taught me more about learning to read, reading instruction and what is important in encouraging a love of reading than anything I learned in graduate school.
One of the most important things I have learned is the value of reading to children. I know, I know—this is something we constantly tell parents of infants. It builds pre-reading skills, love of books, etc. However, I am talking about reading to children who can already read to themselves. Both my daughters are voracious readers…now, at least. And I, like many busy parents, am happy to see them able to read to, and amuse, themselves, leaving me time to do other things.
Nonetheless, I have discovered that even my oldest daughter, who just informed me that she finished the entire series of OZ books in the library in the last two weeks and is starting the unabridged version of Little Women, benefits greatly from being read to. Not only does it expose her to literature she might not choose on her own, but also it actually builds her vocabulary and skills. When she starts using strange pronunciations of words she knows by sight but hasn’t heard used orally, I know she has been reading too much on her own, so reading to her helps in the development of her vocabulary (I realize looking back that I had the same issue as a child, and that I still mispronounce certain words—a fact that my husband teases me about, while purporting to be impressed with my vocabulary!).
Finally, the kids just love being read to (though I often cheat by checking out audio books from the library) and it is a wonderful way for us to connect and engage in questions and answers and imaginative play. There is almost always one playing in our car, often prompting my daughters to beg to stay in the car and listen once we have arrived at our destination.
What are the ways that you continue to read with your children?