Research shows that children need to hear, understand and use as many words as possible to develop learning skills – even before they start school. The path to literacy and reading comprehension begins at home, and parents play a huge role.
You don’t have to be a teacher to give your child a foundation in language and learning. In fact, you’ve already got an incredibly powerful tool to give your child valuable exposure to words and ideas: story time.
Reading with your child is one of the most effective ways to develop her language skills, and you can take any book to the next level with a few simple steps. The Rollins Center developed the READ strategy to help parents turn story time into an opportunity to start building their children’s vocabulary from an early age.
Here’s how you can use the READ strategy to make the most of story time in your home.
R – Repeat the Book
We encourage parents to repeat a story at least three times with your child to ensure she begins to learn new words and apply them to everyday situations.
- First Read: cover the events of a story as they happen on the page. Explain new words and point out things in the pictures that enhance the story.
- Second Read: explore the thoughts and emotions of the characters as they relate to things happening in the story. When reading Amari’s Bike Adventure, for example, tell your child how you think Amari feels at certain times in the story.
- Third Read: let your child tell the story! Instead of reading all the words, encourage your child to tell what is happening on each page and how each character feels. By highlighting new words used on the page, you’ll help guide your child to expand her vocabulary.
E – Engage and Enjoy
We know that story time can be tough at the end of a long day, but it should also be fun for you and your child. Try the PAT technique:
P – Point to the picture of the word
A – Act out the word and encourage your child to act it out too
T – Tell a child-friendly definition of the word
You can also try using different voices for characters to make the story really come to life.
A – Ask Questions
Reading to your children is valuable, but asking them questions about what you’ve read sparks critical thinking and reading comprehension. Don’t just ask your child what happened in the story – ask how characters feel about certain events or what the character learned. For example, you could ask, “Why did Amari not give up when she was learning how to ride her bike?”
D – Do More
Learning the meaning of words takes more than just listening – it needs action! You can go beyond the books to help your child use the words she learned in the real world. After reading Amari’s Bike Adventure, you could take a field trip to a park. Walk around and discuss the different things you see…people, trees, animals, etc. Children will embrace new words by using them in their own adventures.
Any book can benefit from the READ strategy, but Read Right from the Start offers books specifically written with the READ strategy in mind, as well as guides to apply READ to popular children’s books.
Once you’ve started using the READ strategy at story time, help us spread READ and other Read Right from the Start strategies to your child’s school.