As the holidays quickly approach, you may be searching for a gift that your small child will enjoy for years to come. Sure, you can give them the hottest toys trending this year. But after they break it (oh yes they will!), lose it (ditto!) or lose interest in it altogether, what are they left with?
Don’t despair…one of the best gifts you can give is something they can use forever – the gift of reading.
You might be wondering what you should do to turn your toddler into a solid reader. Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to help your child and instill a lifelong love of reading in them. The US Department of Education has some wonderful suggestions that can help you get started.
One of the best ways to connect with your toddler is to talk to them during the course of the day. Think of yourself as a narrator and explain the things that you see or do in simple sentences. Talk to your child while you do the grocery shopping. Or sing to them in the car. It’s all about communicating and making connections with your kids. They absorb every little thing you say, even though you might suspect they don’t listen to you because their toys are still on the floor after 9 requests to clean up.
Read To Them
This is probably my favorite suggestion because it’s so easy and fun. It is never too early, or too late, to read to your toddler. You don’t have to go all out and make up voices for every character (which, like me, you might now be obligated to do every time you read a Spongebob story), but by simply reading to your children for 30 minutes a day, they learn to associate the pictures with the words you’re saying and thus, you’re helping them achieve reading greatness in one of the most enjoyable of ways.
Work With Your Child’s Teacher
As a mom myself, I can tell you that your child’s success isn’t just up to your child’s teacher. It’s also up to you. Talk to your child’s teacher and find out what approaches he or she is taking to help your child develop reading and literacy skills. Be sure you work with your child too on homework and any other skills that need strengthening.
Go To Your Local Library
When I was a little girl, I absolutely loved it when my mom would take me to the library. I would delight in picking out books to take home and read, even before I could fully read them myself. Your local library is a treasure trove of learning opportunities, not to mention fun activities that are usually free. Go check it, and a book or two, out!
Let Them See You Read
Our children want to be like us, so it’s really important for us to set a positive example. Be a good role model by turning off the TV and diving into a book you want to read. My little guy is always interested in what I’m reading about when he sees me attempting to forget about my world and drown out my thoughts by curling up with a book. You can also show your children that reading helps you in daily life, like when you read a recipe or when you pass signs on the road during your outings (“Danger! Crazy mom ahead!”).
Give Them Books
For rewards or birthdays and holidays, give your child a book or two. Or be like me and buy 5 books because there are so many wonderful books out there to read to your kids that you have a hard time choosing.
Most of all, be patient with your children. They’ll get it eventually and on your journey there, you’ll be building an even stronger bond all the while.