Being able to read and comprehend is possibly the most valuable skill we can ever learn. It keeps us in touch with the world and allows us to interact with, and understand what is going on around us. Reading gives us the power to investigate, to question, understand and apply our learning. Reading just for sheer pleasure not only entertains us; it enables us to escape in our minds and fires our imaginations. Reading is often a springboard to boundless inspiration and creativity.
A love of reading should be encouraged and developed right from infancy. Read, read, and read to your child right from when they are born! Share books, enjoy the rhythm of language, the pictures and the stories. If reading is valued in the home and given priority as a crucial skill, then very few children will have difficulty with reading; it becomes second nature to them. By the middle of first grade your child should be able to read at least 100 common words and know their letter-sound relationships well enough to read simple books. From then on, their reading skills should continue to blossom and develop to match their age and maturity.
Learning sight words is often a source of stress for students and parents alike. However automatic recognition of an ever expanding bank of sight words will enable a student to concentrate more fully on other aspects of reading such as pace, fluency, expression and above all comprehension, which is after all the purpose of all reading. There are many and varied ways to assist your child to learn their sight words and most schools have their preferred way to teach them. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how a child learns them, just as long as they do. Ask your child’s teacher for some tips and strategies to assist with sight word mastery. Queensland Department of Education and Training also has a wonderful app called ‘Out and About’ which has some fun ideas on how to help young children get started on their initial sight words.
I am always saddened when I see a child struggling with reading and their confidence is lost. Reading and comprehension are needed across all subject areas of the curriculum. It follows then that all students should be able to apply their reading and comprehension skills effectively to fully participate in each subject. Failure in many subjects can often be traced back to poor reading and comprehension skills.
Once confidence is lost children often become introverted and believe they cannot cope. The good news is that a struggling child can be taught to read and comprehend well. Obviously the earlier a problem is identified the easier it is to take steps to rectify it. The key thing is, don't hesitate when you suspect your child has a reading difficulty. Trust your judgement. Seek help from your child’s school or consider extra tuition from a qualified teacher. Although reading problems are best addressed when caught at a young age, it's never too late to help anyone with reading difficulties regardless of their age.
Always encourage your child to read and praise all efforts by them. Surround them with books they enjoy and that interest them. Make sure your child sees that reading is a vital and valued skill in your home. Walt Disney summed it up nicely: ‘There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate loot on Treasure Island!’