Are you looking for ways to impact your child’s education and their future?  Many parents are.  However, sometimes as a parent, we just don’t know the best way to support our child’s learning.  That’s why we have teachers, right?  But what if the parent is the teacher?  In what ways can they support their child’s education?  Well, the answer is not simple, but there is one tried-and-true method that will not only help your child succeed in school, but also in life.  And that method is the power of a read aloud.

The written language has been around for thousands of years.  Historians even consider it an important characteristic when examining ancient civilizations.  And reading may be the most important thing your child will need to learn.  But how do you teach reading and what happens if the program you are using isn’t working?  Well, don’t panic!  There are plenty of ways to support your child’s foundational reading skills.  One way to promote and cultivate early literacy skills is by reading books to them, especially when they are little.  Reading aloud to young children has many positive effects.  When children listen to stories and look at pictures, they are making connections.  They are developing their language acquisition skills by correlating the words that are read aloud to the pictures in the books.  They are also developing a sense of print awareness by understanding that printed words on a page tell a story.  Children who are read to may even have a stronger imagination than their peers.  They will be able to understand abstract topics as they get older, because they are able to think about concepts that cannot be physically seen.  

Teachers have found that students who have difficulty in areas of reading and writing suffer from the lack of vocabulary knowledge. Adults tend to use the same words in their everyday speech.  If students are not exposed to new vocabulary words at a young age, then that will negatively impact their ability to read and comprehend as they grow older.  A great way to expose children to new words is by reading aloud with them.  And yes, using your “reading voice” does help.  Students who develop prosody (inflection in their voice when they read) tend to enjoy reading more and have better comprehension skills than their peers.  So, be brave and bold, and try to give that rabbit in the book a high-pitched squeaky voice, or the turtle a low and drawn-out voice.  Your child will not only find the story more appealing, but will be learning about intonation and rhythm all at the same time.  

Students whose parents engage with them through literacy activities, like reading a bedtime story or by writing little notes or lists, will be more successful in school.  Creating a culture where books are valued and needed will help support children in their effort to acquire those skills needed to become fluent readers and writers.