If you’re here you probably know by now that reading to your child and encouraging an early love of reading can set up them up for success later in life. Reading can help kids build crucial critical thinking skills, become more active and successful in social environments, and help them develop an early and more advanced understanding of language.

Reading to your child is nearly as important as just speaking to your child and engaging in daily interaction — it helps them begin to learn the sounds and shapes of letters and words, as well as get used to more complex aspects of language, such as sentence structure and vocabulary. And once your child is old enough to read, they can begin to develop their own language skills alongside you.

Here are 5 tricks to help your kids learn language through reading.

1- Read Stories Aloud to Them

Reading aloud to your child is the first crucial step in helping them develop. By regularly sharing stories with them, you will help them build their own language skills — from learning to recognize words and letters to how to sound out language own their own. When children listen to you read, they reinforce the sounds that are the basic building blocks of language. It will also help them learn more vocabulary, critical thinking skills, and essential communication skills.

2- Have Them Read Aloud to You

Once your child is old enough to begin to read themselves, have them read books aloud to you. It will help them with the more challenging aspects of language development. Reading aloud is a great way to learn to sound out words and recognize new vocabulary you’ve never encountered before. It also helps build crucial communication skills by allowing your child to develop speech patterns and recognize sentence structure as they work to process spelling, punctuation, phonetics, and more.

3- Have Them Describe Pictures to You

If your child is too young to read a book aloud to you, you can still help them develop their language skills by encouraging pretend reading, when a child pages through a book without actually reading it. It’s a sign of pre-literacy and shows that they’re beginning to grasp modes of language and reading/writing. Once they have a bit of a grasp on language, have them describe the pictures in a book to you.

By describing the story through what they see, they’re learning to think critically about the world they encounter and translate it into words, language, and a comprehensible story format. They will be better poised to sound out words and develop reading skills if they’re already shaping language skills through identifying storytelling via images.

4- Discuss the Story After

An essential part of reading to your child is not only reading to them, but discussing the storytelling with them after. Ask them to recount the story to you or to discuss specific scenarios. Probe their understanding of what they read, and help them understand cause and effect, logical reasoning, and critical thinking through discussing the events of the books you read.

Even if it’s a simple picture book, asking your child to explain relationships between characters or why the protagonist makes a certain choice or what happens when they make that choice will help them develop key language skills. It will also form the basis for communication and thinking patterns that are essential in all modes of formal education.

5-  Have them Relate the Story to Their Own Lives

Lastly, when you’re reading to your child, explain to them or have them tell you how a story and its circumstances relates to their own lives. For one, they can find a familiarity of experience in books that will help ease their mind if they’re feeling anxious or alone in certain circumstances. It will also help teach them empathy, as they learn to draw parallels between their lives and the stories of others. Lastly, it will help them build key emotional language skills — if they must relate to and describe the emotional circumstances of fictional characters, then they will learn how to express their own emotions and feelings using words and language as well. It helps them learn healthy habits about expressing themselves from a young age. And if you really want to help them relate to the story, consider buying a personalized book that features them as the main character!

Reading is an essential part of developing your child’s language skills, so use these 5 tips to help them thrive.

Homeschooling has become more mainstream in recent years, but it is still a rare thing in today’s world. As education becomes more widely available to people from all walks of life, homeschooling is still a thought on many parents’ minds. There are many reasons why parents and caregivers may choose to go the homeschooling route, but there are certain things that you need to keep in mind if you are thinking of doing the same for your children.

Define Your Priorities

For many parents, it is their ideology that drives them to consider homeschooling. If there is a particular set of ideas and values that you would like to impart to your child that they may not receive in another setting, then this is the first thing you have to do. Not only will it help you ultimately make a decision but it can also help shape the way you approach homeschooling if you go down that route.

Know Who You Are

In the same vein as above, it helps for parents and guardians to figure out who they are and what their approach to homeschool is. There are a lot of stereotypes out there, but ultimately you are your own person and your approach to homeschooling will be entirely your own. Knowing what your goals are and what your approach will be can help you make a decision, however, it will have a huge impact on how you go about educating your children as well.

Get Acquainted with Curriculum

Even though you will have more control over what your child learns and how they go about doing so, learning more about curriculum styles and requirements can provide you with guidelines when it comes time to creating your own curriculum for your child. Give yourself some homework and read up on the educational philosophies of homeschooling. Certain ideas and approaches may jump out at you and resonate with your thoughts on homeschooling and why you want to consider it in the first place.

Define Your Time

As a homeschooler, you will need to dedicate a lot of your own time to educating your child, but there are other types of time you may need to allocate as well. For many kids, school is more than just about education but it is also about activity and socialization. It is important that parents take these important types of developmental time into consideration before making a tentative schedule of your own. Will you be able to handle scheduling learning time with these other activities? Doing so can help your child become more well-rounded and aid them when it comes to developing key physical and social skills, so it is vital to keep these other types of learning in mind.

How Will You Support It?

This is perhaps a more pertinent question for parents choosing homeschooling over public schooling, but in any case, homeschooling is a full time job. It demands time, supplies, and resources, too. Parents who might otherwise send their child to private school can allocate those designated funds to support homeschooling, but since public school does not require tuition, the time and effort put into it will need to come from somewhere.

There are many things that parents need to consider before homeschooling. For some, it is a personal choice whereas for other parents, kids with special needs (whether they be related to medical requirements and limitations or learning and behavioral disabilities) or with special circumstances may get the most out of homeschooling because of their needs or because of accessibility. There are plenty of resources for parents to check out, and sometimes medical professionals can offer advice if the choice to homeschool is related to a child’s medical or behavioral needs. Reach out to others, gather differing opinions and ideas, and try to make an educated decision before taking the leap.

Summer vacation should be full of fun and excitement, and for some kids, these concepts don’t always align with the idea of reading. For kids who already love to read, getting them to read over the summer can be a no brainer, and for certain children it may take no work at all. But for reluctant readers, it is important that parents make sure that reading remains a mainstay in their child’s lives. Studies have shown that children who do not read over the summer, especially when in elementary school and in early grades, may get knocked down a reading level or two. By reading consistently, kids can stay at the reading level that is appropriate for their grade and age. Here are some tips on getting kids excited about reading.

Focus on Adventure

Summer is often when families go out on vacation or take long trips. Vacations can be exciting and are often filled with new experiences, so take the spirit of vacation and books into the mix. Encourage kids to research the place your family is planning on visiting this summer. Even if you are unable to go on vacation, kids can explore other places, whether it is distant parts of the world, or fictional realms, all through the power of books. With this criteria in mind, scour the shelves of your local library or bookstore to see what you can find.

Motivation is Key

Children don’t just need to be reading books over the summer they need to be reading the right ones. One of the most important factors when it comes to any activity is the willingness to actually do it. Try not to push books on kids or pick out certain titles only because you think they’re interesting. Sure, providing some suggestions can certainly help, but it is important that kids want to read what they like, and making that choice on their own is one foolproof way to ensure that.

When it comes to making your own suggestions, keep your child’s interests in mind. Provide them with books on activities or subjects you already know they like. A love of learning is likely to inspire them to pick up books on other topics, too, but pushing overly educational books or books kids are simply not interested in can have the opposite effect than the one you’re going for.

Look Local

Whether you make a point of regularly visiting the local library with your child or have them tag along to the bookstore at the mall, making books easily accessible and within reach can help to pique their interests. Many libraries offer programs for kids during the summer months or after school that focus on reading but may also include activities like crafts and games that go hand-in-hand with the reading material.

Get Creative

If your child has other interests, whether it’s drawing, performing, or even talking a lot, you can incorporate these interests into the act of reading. Does your child like to doodle? Have them create illustrations for a book without any pictures. Is your child a movie star in the making? Encourage them to put on a play version of the last book they read for the family. Do they like to hear the sound of their own voice? See if they’ll record themselves reading a book aloud as if they are a radio announcer or an audiobook narrator. There are plenty of ways in which reading can be dynamic, especially if other activities are thrown into the mix.

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