5 activities to support your child’s language development

Blog-Post_Role-Play

Parents play a significant role in encouraging their child’s language development. Most children learn basic listening, speaking, reading and writing skills from birth through to grade three.

Studies show that children who are read to and spoken with regularly during early childhood will have a wider vocabulary and stronger literacy skills overall than those who aren’t. Additionally, there are many fun and simple activities that parents can do with their child to develop and support essential speech and language skills.

1. Storytelling

Storytelling is a great family activity that encourages language development and introduces new vocabulary. Make up stories together with your child including characters, conflict and a happy ending. Sit down to look at family photographs, talking about who is in the photograph, what they were doing and where they were. Ask your child to retell stories and set aside time for regular reading. You can even narrate the day with your child as it unfolds, e.g. “Now we’re going outside to water the flowers. When we finish, we’ll prepare the table for lunch.”

2. Labelling game

Cut pieces of cardboard paper and write the words for common items found around the house. These can include things like furniture, bathroom items, articles of clothing and children’s toys. Read each word aloud and ask your child to place it on top of the correct item. Gradually you can begin writing words for adjectives to describe household items. Include new adjectives that your child may not know and help them find items that can be described using that word. Encourage them to say each word aloud and even think of some of their own adjectives.

3. Picture book spotters

Read picture books with your child and pause to look at and discuss the pictures. Repeat what you have read in the story by pointing out to what is happening in the pictures. Encourage your child to make comments by asking them what else they can spot, e.g. “Big Ted is wearing his red shirt! What else is he wearing on his feet?” “The princess is sitting in the garden. What else can we see in the garden?”

4. Word chain

Building on the words and language your child already uses is an easy way to strengthen their language skills. Cut pieces of cardboard paper and write the words for different nouns and verbs your child is familiar with. Then write the words for different adjectives and adverbs. Help your child to make a ‘word chain’ using one noun or verb and as many adjectives and adverbs as possible. For example, if the word is ‘car’, you may select words like ‘big’, ‘fast’, ‘red’, ‘shiny’ or ‘noisy’ to create a word chain. Building language can also be incorporated into everyday situations. For example, if your child says the word ‘cat’, you can say, ‘soft cat’ or ‘sleepy cat’.

5. Role-playing

Role-playing is a fun and powerful way to expand your child’s imagination and introduce related language and words. Using costumes and props (or imaginary ones!), you can role-play scenarios which involve different characters to introduce related words and stretch your child’s imaginative play skills. For example, if you pretend to be a teacher, include as many related words as possible, e.g. classroom, students, blackboard, desk, books, learning, reading etc.

Reading Eggs is the comprehensive online reading website that teaches children aged 3-13 essential early reading skills, including fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Start your free two week trial today.

8 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Attention When Reading

improve child focus

Sitting down to read a book requires a great deal of focus. This can be a challenge for restless or reluctant young readers who struggle to pay attention while reading or being read aloud to.

Focusing on reading a book is something that even adults struggle to do. Low concentration and attention levels are a common issue for many young children, and can affect the way they learn and retain new information at school.

If your child struggles with staying focused while reading, here are eight helpful ways you can help them improve:

1. Break up their reading time. Your child may feel more motivated to start reading if they know they won’t be expected to sit for long periods of time. Encourage your child to take regular reading breaks every 15-20 minutes. Make it fun by having them stop, put down their book, and do ten star jumps or run on the spot.

2. Observe optimal times of the day. A child’s level of focus and alertness can change dramatically over the course of a day. Observe which time of the day your child is most ready and prepared to sit down and focus on reading a book. It could be early in the morning, in the middle of the day, or just before sitting down for dinner.

3. Create a distraction-free zone. Your child should have a comfortable and quiet place to read. Create a reading environment that is free from distractions like toys, the computer or the television.

4. Get creative. Your child may struggle to read the first page of a book, but have no problems spending 30 minutes building pictures with wooden craft sticks. A child’s level of focus depends on how interested they are in the activity. Get creative and turn the reading experience into a fun hands-on activity. You can role-play scenes from a book as you read aloud together, or have your child shape the letters of different words using craft sticks or play dough.

5. Observe your child’s interest. What has your child been talking about recently? They may have taken up an interest in dinosaurs, trucks, witches or horses. Whatever your child is fascinated by, find a book you know they will love.

6. Encourage physical activity. Educational experts have long made the link between physical activity and improved concentration levels. Before your child sits down to read, encourage them to engage in an outdoor game or a fun dance routine to help “wake up” their mind.

7. Provide fun instructions. Create excitement about reading by singing your instructions or using a piece of music or a fun sound to prompt reading time. Use a visual reminder that reading time is happening by displaying a poster on the wall or giving your child a ‘Reading Bear’ which they can sit with, hold on their lap, or read aloud to during reading time.

8. Encourage focusing techniques. Meditation is a great way to help your child focus before sitting down to read. Begin with short sessions of a minute or two and ask your child to focus on a particular object in the room or in their mind. When they get distracted while reading, encourage them to take a moment to refocus on the same object to push out any distracting thoughts.

Do you have any other special techniques or tips to help your child to stay focused while reading?

The Great Debate: Print Books vs. E-Books

ebook vs print book

Digital technology has come a long way in recent years, opening up a world of exciting opportunities for both reading and learning.

But when it comes to e-reading, opinions are widely varied. While many arguments in the debate are based on either practicality (e.g. carrying thousands of books on the one device) or sentimentality (what could trump the beloved smell of paper books?), we wanted to look at some benefits of both e-books and print books for encouraging early readers.

Benefits of print books for young children…

Less screen time

In what is probably the most common concern for parents, one of the biggest benefits of print books is that it reduces the amount of time your child spends in front of the screen.

Children are using computers and mobile devices more than ever before for things like reading, learning and entertainment. But experts agree that a wide range of activities for children is important for their development. These include active physical play, imaginative play, hands-on activities, and anything that involves interacting directly with other people. Print books give children the opportunity to step away from their screens and enjoy the quiet, hands-on experience of reading a book.

Fewer distractions

Print books can be great for encouraging fidgety readers to focus on doing just that – reading. Using a mobile or tablet device which holds a range of different apps, features or games can tempt restless readers to become easily distracted and lose focus on what they’re reading.

Having said that, children can also become easily distracted while reading a print book. Just having the television on in the background can interfere with their ability to concentrate. It’s important to make sure your child has a quiet and distraction-free reading environment, whether it’s a print book or e-book.

Benefits of e-books for young children…

Aiding early reading skills

For emerging readers who have just begun taking their steps towards learning to read, reading on their own can be a daunting and complicated process. Pronunciation, vocabulary and fluency can be difficult obstacles that discourage and frustrate young learners.

E-books which include audio narration give children the ability to read a story while being read aloud to. Children are able to learn new words and hear how they are properly pronounced. Read aloud options in e-books are beneficial for both new and older readers alike; emerging readers can develop confidence in their own reading ability by following the read aloud option, while more experienced readers can test their skills by reading the book on their own and using the e-book features to help them if they need guidance.

Interactivity and engagement

While too many add-ons to an e-book can be distracting, basic enhancements can be extremely helpful for engaging young readers. Children enjoy the ability to zoom in on unfamiliar words or find out the meaning of a word with a single click. Additionally, the touchscreen and buttons on an e-reader can help toddlers develop fine-motor skills.

However, a study by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop found that too many e-book enhancements, such as games, interactive animations, embedded videos and links that take readers to something unrelated to the story, can be too distracting for early readers. E-readers with basic enhancements, such as text and audio narration and highlighted text, which relate directly to the story, were found to be a better option for young children.

Children have a lot to gain from both print books and e-books. Parents can experiment with both formats to see which works best for their child, because at the end of the day, getting children to read is always a positive thing, whether it’s a paperback book or a one-click download.

Reading Eggs is developed by experienced primary educators and based on solid scientific research into the best ways children learn to read. With over 2000 e-books to suit all tastes and reading levels, find out how your child’s reading can improve with a free trial today.

Quick Tips and Tricks on Improving Your Child’s Posture While Reading

improve child posture

Whether your child is sitting down with a book or mobile device, it’s important for them to learn and maintain good posture while reading.

Good reading posture means being aware of holding yourself in a way that puts the least strain on your back and neck while sitting for long periods of time. And while many of us enjoy curling up on the couch with a good book for hours, it’s helpful to encourage children to be aware of good reading posture, especially over long periods of time.

So what can you do to teach your child about good reading posture? Consider these helpful tips:

Be aware of what good reading posture looks like. The back should be resting against the backrest of the chair, knees making a right angle, feet flat on the floor, and legs uncrossed. Books should be placed or held at eye level to avoid neck strain.

 Be aware of your own reading posture. Children learn by example, so make sure you exhibit good reading posture yourself. If you have a desk job, be especially conscious of how you sit over long periods of time.

 Use positive reinforcement. Praise your child when you see them sitting up straight to help them stay motivated and aware of their posture. If you see your child slouching to read or curling up on the couch for long periods of time, gently remind them to readjust their reading position.

 Make sure you have the right furniture. Your child’s furniture could be affecting their posture. Make sure their desk is at elbow height where they can sit upright with relaxed hands. If they are reading on a computer, teach them how to adjust the monitor to be at eye level.

 Use a therapy ball. If you have a therapy ball that your child can sit on with their feet on the ground, this can help strengthen their core and encourage them to sit up straight. Make sure they have an appropriately heighted surface to read on, and remember to supervise younger children to ensure they are using the ball safely.

 Shoulder blade squeeze. Before sitting down to read, ask your child to stand with their arms straight out from their shoulders. Then have them bend their elbows so their hands are shoulder height, palms down. Have them squeeze their shoulder blades together and hold for five seconds. Relax and repeat five times.

 Encourage regular stretches. Remind your child to take regular 30 minute breaks to get up and stretch while reading, especially over long periods of time.

 Don’t forget the eyes. Teach your child to hold their book close enough so that they don’t have to strain their vision, and always remember to provide good lighting. If you suspect your child may have poor vision, speak to a professional about arranging an eye test.

 Do you have any other ideas, tips or tricks for teaching your child good posture for reading? Let us know if the comments section below.

5 Everyday Activities to Boost Your Child’s Working Memory with Reading

learning memory reading

 

When you sit down to read a book, your brain is recalling and using a great deal of information to understand the text. This is because reading requires us to draw on relevant information stored in our memory in order to gain meaning.

A good working memory is important for reading and achieving success in school. Working memory refers to how we manipulate information stored in our short-term memory. Children use this all the time to learn, read, and follow everyday instructions.

Improving your child’s working memory is a powerful way to improve their reading fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Here are five activities you can do at home to improve your child’s working memory.

1. Play category games

When words and ideas are put into categories, they become much easier to remember. Several studies have found that when category cues are applied, children are twice as likely to remember associated words than if left to recall them on their own.

You can play category games with your child after reading a book as a helpful way to recall new words and ideas. If the book features animals, ask your child to name as many animals as they can think of, including any new ones they may have learned from the book. You can look at grouping them in different ways, such as by where they live or their number of legs. If the book is about Egyptian history, ask them to list words under categories such as diet, buildings, rituals, or fashion. This type of associative learning is a great way to improve reading comprehension and vocabulary.

2. Connect feelings to information

Children remember things most effectively by processing information in as many ways as possible, especially if they have processed it emotionally. If your child is reading a book about bird migration, ask them to imagine what it would be like to fly thousands of miles to find food and warmth. Finding ways to connect what your child is trying to remember with things they are already familiar with is a powerful way to help them learn new information.

3. Talk about what you have read

Soon after you have finished reading a book, ask your child to give you a summary of the events that took place. Encourage them to draw pictures, write their summary, or simply tell you what happened in chronological order. You can also ask your child questions to reinforce key information in the book. Encourage a post-reading discussion by asking questions like, “Where did the dog find his family?”, “Why do you think the girl felt sad about leaving school?”, or “What would have happened if the day was rainy instead of sunny?”

4. Encourage your child to take notes

To enhance working memory while reading, young children can get into the habit of becoming active readers. Encourage your child to underline, highlight or jot down key notes in the margin while reading lengthy books. They might also use sticky notes on pages to write down and group together their ideas about the text. Another great strategy to help your child understand and recall what they have read is by reading the text out loud. By reading aloud together, you can take “mental notes” by pausing and placing an emphasis on key words and ideas, or discussing the meaning of a particular word or event in the text.

5. Prepare

Before your child sits down to read a book, help them prepare by priming their memory. Give your child an idea of what they can expect and what to look out for in a book by discussing the vocabulary and overall topic beforehand. By preparing your child before reading a lengthy text, you are making it easier for them to put the information into context.

Working memory is a skill that can be strengthened over time, and activities like these can be easily built into your child’s daily life. Do you have any tips for boosting your child’s working memory with reading?

ABOUT READING EGGS

Reading Eggs is the comprehensive online reading website that teaches children aged 3-13 essential early reading skills, including fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

Special free trial offer: Start your free trial of Reading Eggs here and see how your child’s reading can improve in just weeks.