The happiest of birthdays to Theodor Seuss Geisel, everyone's beloved Dr. Seuss! The writings of Dr. Seuss have inspired countless generations of readers and dreamers, including the rambunctious bunch of kids I have the pleasure to read with each day in the SRC. Dr. Seuss also inspired the National Education Association to encourage celebration of "Read Across America day" annually on March 2nd. We spent today celebrating the silly readings of Dr. Seuss in a variety of ways, and I also want to share some thoughts with you about reading.
Model LOVE of reading
You as parents are the most important people in your kids' lives. They watch, absorb and repeat everything you do. So one of the most important ways that you can inspire a love of reading, is to share a love of reading. Make time to read together as often as you can, so our kids know that books are important. Sometimes kids impacted by disabilities show that they are attending in less typical ways, but that doesn't mean that they aren't paying attention. They are especially likely to show more attention and love to the things that you show you love!
Model HOW to read
As adults, we have been reading so long, that sometimes we forget some of the mechanics of reading. As a beginning reader, you followed each word with your finger, guiding you along the sounds, and keeping your place in phrases, sentences and later paragraphs. Some of our kids learn to read phonetically, and others with whole word learning, but they ALL need to practice finger tracking--not only to keep place, but also to help them understand that each word on the page signifies a spoken word. This one-to-one correspondence will help them be better readers for life, and will also help them with their counting skills by learning that touching one item stands for one word spoken. So when you are reading with your kids, it is a good idea to remember the habit of following along with your finger, to model this skill.
Remember literacy and text are not limited to books
Throughout each day, we are all inundated with information. Sometimes, this information is in the form of words, other times pictures. Sometimes text is in books, but often not. Kids in this generation are receiving tons of information on a regular basis, and literacy is coming to mean an understanding of a wide variety of methods of communication. Please be mindful of teachable moments throughout your child's day--there is so much to learn!
Write together, and value writing
Research has shown time and again that writing and reading really do go hand and hand. To help grow readers, we practice writing! Here at school we practice writing quite a bit! Even if the writing comes with handwriting help, visual choices and other supports, we are sending the message every day that words have power, and more specifically, their words have power! At school, we write about our special events and favorite things, and proudly display our work in our classroom and on our school bulletin board. We remind kids each and every day that their thoughts and ideas are important. This is something that can be done at home too!
Together, we are growing a generation of readers and writers! Oh, the places they will go!