Article by Margot de Boer for Scarsdale Moms
5 Tips from City Kids:
Create an Inviting Library
The more inviting and accessible your library is, the more likely kids are to reach for books. Less really is more here; many early reading skills build from repetition and mimicking behaviors, so having a small selection of books out that you can read on repeat is actually a great idea! By focusing on a few books, you can help your child gradually deepen his or her understanding of storytelling as he grasps fundamental building blocks like sentence structure, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.
High-interest books can be incredibly motivating, so continue to let your child choose the books they’re interested in (even if you feel like you’ve read it a million times) to empower the existing enthusiasm for reading.
Establish a Reading Routine
Create a reading routine that becomes a cherished part of your child’s day. Try dedicating a specific time each day, like bedtime, before breakfast or after school, to read together. Having a cozy reading nook in your child’s bedroom or a comfortable spot where reading becomes a daily ritual can make the experience even more special. If your child is reading on their own, let them witness your love for reading by picking up a book yourself. Maggie and Jackie are big fans of family reading time whenever life allows!
Fostering a love for reading from a young age can be a game-changer in a child’s academic and personal development. Reading not only opens the doors to knowledge but also nurtures creativity, empathy, and problem-solving skills! So, how can you encourage your child’s reading habits and identify potential reading challenges early on? We sought advice from Scarsdale resident Jackie Rosenberg and co-founder Maggie Madden, two longtime New York City school teachers and curriculum developers who launched City Kid – a private tutoring and early childhood education program – in 2016. City Kid is known for being able to teach children to read from a young age as well as offering tutoring services in all subjects, executive functioning support, test prep and private school interview prep. City Kid recently expanded its tutoring services and proprietary group art, music and sensory classes to Scarsdale, where their incredible team of teachers work with children as young as 9 months through middle school.
Jackie says that just because your child isn’t in kindergarten yet doesn’t mean they’re too young to start learning to read, and there are many critical pre-reading skills that we can help our children conquer to lay the foundation for a successful start to elementary school. Here are 5 simple ways parents can encourage young readers at home!
Model Good Reading Habits & Encourage Discussion
While reading together, stop and ask questions about the story. This can have such a meaningful impact that leads to early reading skills by enhancing emotional intelligence and problem-solving ability. Encourage your child to express their thoughts and feelings about the characters and events in the book, and think aloud to model your own thought process while reading a story (i.e., “I wonder if the Little Blue Truck feels scared about getting stuck in the mud. How do you think his animal friends are going to get him out?”). This helps your child understand the habits of good readers, such as making predictions, connecting the text to personal experiences, and visualizing the story. You can apply these principles even when watching a favorite TV show, by discussing the plot and making connections to real world feelings and experiences.
Know That You’re Never Too Old To Be Read To!
Even if your child can read on their own, continue reading books to them that they can’t tackle independently. Being read to helps children visualize, engage in conversations, and build their vocabulary and comprehension skills. For pre-readers, it can also be helpful to point to specific words as you read them aloud. This simple tracking practice can help your child understand the connection between spoken and written language, a crucial skill for early readers.
Building Phonological Awareness
Long-standing research shows that kids become stronger readers when there is an early focus on phonemic awareness (the ability to identify sounds, like rhyming) and phonics (breaking down words by letter sounds and syllables). Activities like alphabet puzzles and playing with magnetic letters can be fantastic for learning simple words and reinforcing letter sounds. There are plenty of everyday opportunities to casually help your kids practice, as well! When cooking or grocery shopping, for instance, emphasize foundational sounds by saying, “Oh, let’s get some bananas! B is for banana.” Starting with letters that are special to your child, like the ones in their name, or the first letter of their favorite animal, can be a great way to engage them and get them excited to learn.
Even with early implementation of these practices, some kids may struggle and could benefit from extra attention, and that’s OK! Some common indicators to look out for include:
- Resistance to Reading: If your child expresses a strong ongoing aversion to reading and claims it isn’t fun, it may signal a potential challenge or confidence issue.
- Reading Avoidance: Children who are struggling with reading might read quickly, skip words, or rely heavily on pictures to tell the story instead of reading the words. This one can be hard to spot so try having them slow down and repeat words or sentences on the page to see if they are having difficulty.
- Difficulty with Concepts of Print: Trouble recognizing the first letter in a word, the end punctuation, or understanding how words are structured in a sentence can be early signs of reading difficulties in kids ages 4 and up.
- Comprehension Issues: If your child has trouble understanding or discussing the story after reading, it could indicate challenges with language comprehension.
Teachers, through one-on-one assessments, can often identify struggling readers, but Jackie encourages parents who are concerned to not hesitate to bring up concerns first or to seek their own assessment. Her biggest tip is to try not to let your child sense any anxiety you may have about their reading ability, because confidence and keeping reading fun is central to developing strong and enthusiastic readers in her eyes!
About City Kid NY
City Kid NY is an educational program for children created by a duo of experienced educators – Jackie Rosenberg & Maggie Madden – specializing in supporting children through early childhood group classes and academic tutoring. City Kid offers programs for children from 6 months through middle school and ensure that all learning is catered to each child’s unique personality, learning styles, strengths, and areas of need. City Kid’s philosophy is centered around the belief that in order to best support students, tutors must deeply understand the work our young learners do everyday in the classroom. Therefore, we work exclusively with top teachers from public and private schools. We believe in the importance of differentiating curricula and scaffolding lessons in order to make learning accessible for all learners. Our team of tutors work strategically to help build the confidence of our City Kid students because we firmly believe that a strong belief in one’s ability to learn is at the heart of every child’s success.