Last time we talked about developing reading with those listening, language, and talking babies turning into children.
Now that your children will begin to go to school, it will be just as important that you, parents, continue to grow your child's listening, language, and reading skills. While children are busy making friends and learning the structure of a classroom, they are falling for their kindergarten teacher. They watch everything she does and love when she reads to them, because they have learned the love of reading from you. In language, children will use their auditory memory skills and picture clues to "read" books. They will listen to the stories, love the pictures, memorize the parts they fell in love with and begin to retell you the story when they get home. Ask them, "What story did you hear at school today?" and watch what comes out of their mouths. They learn to listen in the classroom, not just to the teacher but to each other, and they learn to speak to each other as proper communication partners. So, on top of that listening and language continuing to develop - so does reading. Reading is a part of the environment, your child begins to pick out those words. Store signs and words they've been exposed to over and over again in the classroom. Parents, you can help by using new vocabulary words, help to "sound out" words if they ask for help, and form words with magnet letters or alphabet programs on the computer.
As your child moves into first grade they're listening will get better and better, following several step directions within the classroom and being able to listen to longer pieces of information . . . and so it goes throughout their growing school years. Language will continue to do much the same, moving from simple to complex structures and carrying on a conversation with their peers and adults. Your child will learn the language arts structures in school and understand that reading carries meanings and so much more. They can also communicate and tell stories through creating their own writings. Once again parents, you can help by encouraging some independent reading, develop words they can read by sight (just by looking at them) and talking to them about what they read. "What did you read?" "What did you like the best?" and "How do you think the story will end?" or "What will happen next?"
Now comes the hard part! Whew! Vocabulary building ties in very closely with communication skills. It is - oh, so important, for your child not to get behind on academic vocabulary. So much more is expected of them and you parents, cannot keep saying things the same way every time they have difficulty learning those new words. It is not okay to say things in an easier manner so your child will get it. What ends up happening is they cling to those simpler items and leave the more difficult vocabulary by the way side. Have a discussion about new words, think of examples in their lives you can use and say it in a different way - not the "tired way" of "same old, same old".
For instance: Pre-teach academic vocabulary. Ask the teacher for a list of the vocabulary coming up in the lessons. Children acquiring language need to be able to be familiar with words through conversation at least two weeks before they are asked to understand them in academic context, whether it be the reading series or text books from Science or Social Studies. Get the list and put them on the refrigerator, target acquiring three to five new words at a time. Make all the family use the words. Use hands-on experiences so the words can become a part of your child - rather than short term for the test, or pictures in their head. Try to choose words they will be interested in, not words you think they should know - use whatever the lesson is that your child talks about - go from there. Get rid of what your child is familiar with and encourage them to understand and use the vocabulary through your discussions and use of synonyms.
Then go read a book and share!