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Encouraging Reading And Speaking In Youngsters

Dec 26, 2007
Just as the preschool years are a prelude to a successful beginning in reading, so success in the primary grades builds a firm foundation for effective reading in years to come.

Starting with a desire to read and the ability to differentiate objects by observing their distinctive details, the child learns to recognize a number of words at sight. By the end of the third grade he should be able to instantly the basic Dolch vocabulary of 220 words, which make up at least 50 per cent of the running words in his elementary school books. He will know other words, too, whose meaning he does not have to stop and puzzle out.

You can foster the child's desire to read by continuing to read him stories and poems that he thoroughly enjoys. When time is limited and he wants more, you can say, "Soon you will learn to read stories yourself, when Mother is busy." Introduce him to the joys of the library. There he may browse among books and wonder what the people in the pictures are saying and what is happening in those enchanted lands.

When you are cooking, give him opportunities to bring you the flour or the sugar in its labeled can. When you are driving, ask him to read the road signs - Go, Stop, Slow, Curve - for you. Write simple messages on his blackboard or bulletin board, not for him to read, but to arouse his curiosity and make him feel a need for reading.

When we are hurried and worried about many things, we cannot always reward the child by showing our interest or giving him a smile when he displays the characteristics that we want him to develop. But our interest is most important. Instead of being annoyed by his questions, we should commend his curiosity even though we cannot satisfy it.

When he has taken initiative or shown resourcefulness, it does take thought, but very little time, to smile and say, "You did that all by yourself," or, "You found something interesting to do without my telling you." Children will repeat behavior that is approved by the persons they love.

A toy telephone is an excellent means of encouraging correct and fluent speech. If the child mumbles, say, "Sorry, you'll have to speak more clearly. This is a very poor connection." Playing "radio announcer" also gives him an incentive to improve his oral speech.

Playing with children who speak clearly is even more effective. The other children will not try to understand the child who mumbles or talks incoherently. Consequently, they will not do what he wants. Often they will refuse to play with him.

Games may be played on auto trips, or at other times when there doesn't seem to be anything interesting to talk about. "I packed my trunk" with things that begin with a particular consonant sound or blend, like ball or dress. Or, "I went to the supermarket to buy..." innumerable articles that have the same beginning sounds.

As he looks at magazines with you, the child will enjoy finding objects that end alike, such as boy and toy, or that begin alike, such as cake and cup. You may help him to select, cut out, and paste in a book ten or more picture cards for each initial consonant sound, to give him practice in recognizing these sounds in spoken words.

To encourage the child to think as well as to distinguish differences in words that begin alike, you can make pairs of words:

chickens children
puppy puddle

Then ask him: Which have wings - chickens or children? Which is an animal - puppy or puddle?

These special games and devices are not offered as substitutes for all the natural, spontaneous ways in which children in a family or a play group develop interest in reading, ability to speak effectively, and ability to discriminate among the things they see and the words they hear.

Use any of these means, and your child will be speaking clearly and reading well in no time.
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