Educator Pam Barnhill shares in this post on the Ed Snapshots Blog the #1 mistake that parents make when reading aloud to their children.
Everyone knows that we should start reading aloud to babies as soon as possible.
But, once children develop reading skills, parents often feel relieved that they are more independent now and read aloud to them less. Or stop altogether.
However, at this point they really need you to be reading aloud to them more, not less. This is because reading aloud to your children helps them develop language skills beyond decoding the words on the page. It helps with vocabulary, sentence structure, and most of all, comprehension skills. It also helps your children develop higher-level thinking skills.
It exposes your child to a wider background knowledge and words they won’t hear spoken in conversation. It helps them to hear the language spoken out-loud to know the patterns of language. This is especially important for kids with dyslexia, who may not be very strong at decoding, or kids with ADHD who may have trouble focusing on text when reading by themselves.
Other ways to expose your children to this type of language is to have them listen to audio books, or podcasts, or old radio shows. All of these auditory formats will help their brain’s language centers and further develop vocabulary, background knowledge, and comprehension.
When I was in school, I attended a school for kids with dyslexia, and our teachers always spent at least 30 minutes per day reading aloud to us. I credit this as helping me to score in the 99th percentile in verbal abilities on standardized tests. Your child may not get that type of instruction in his or her school, but it is easy to provide it at home.
If you find that when you’re reading aloud to your child they can’t follow an appropriate grade-level story, or they are only focusing on details and don’t get the bigger picture, then your child may have trouble with visualizing what they hear or read. This is a specific deficit in their comprehension skills, and our tutors can help with this type of problem.