Reading. It’s essential. It’s basic to our ability to navigate our world. And if our kids aren’t reading, then we, as parents, worry.
As traveling, roadschooling parents, it’s hard to know how much time to dedicate to reading instruction. Do we take time out of our experiences in the real world to sit down with workbooks to help our children learn? Or do we carry on, hoping they’ll somehow figure it out?
I think it’s important to understand the process of reading in order to know what to focus on.
When it comes to the instruction of reading, the deepest, most profound impact I had on my instructional thoughts and ideas came from reading The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. That book, single-handedly, changed how I taught reading in my classroom. I encourage every parent to buy the book and read it. Don’t worry about the lists of books in the back of the book, but read the front part – the part where he talks about why you should be reading aloud to your child.
The basic idea behind read aloud is that language development comes in a hierarchy, and if we’re consciously aware of that process, we can foster the growth.
The base of all language arts skills is listening comprehension. We start working on that from the day our children are born by talking to them. Hopefully, we read them books that use different vocabulary from what we use in our day-to-day life. As children hear us speak and read books, they hear various words and figure out their meaning from the context of how they are used.
Sadly, some parents don’t read to their children at all, or they stop doing so at an early age. That is the single most thing a parent can do to prevent their children from learning to read and enjoy it. On the flip side, parents who do read to their children daily are doing the best possible activity to promote reading.
Researchers have found that listening is the base for everything else.
If kids hear words being used, then they will eventually be able to use those words in their own spoken language, and then they’ll be able to read them and write them. None of other categories will move upward if that listening part stays stagnant.
And that’s where that whole read aloud thing comes into play.
When parents read to their children, they are able to read more advanced books that the children will be capable of reading on their own. Generally speaking, a child’s listening comprehension is at least two years ahead of their reading capability. They will naturally ask for books at their level and, through listening to books at a higher level than they could read, you are introducing more advanced vocabulary.
Once children orally comprehend the advanced vocabulary, you’ll see that transfer to their speaking, reading, and writing.
In other words, the single best thing a parent can do to help your child learn to read is to read to him. Reading to your child will promote an interest in stories and provide the background and vocabulary basis to build upon.
It should come as no surprise that reading to kids is not travel-exclusive. No matter where you live or what you are doing, reading to your children will provide the basis for their further education. If you are traveling, however, you’ve got the whole travel experience going on which will further their base.
We made a bedtime story a nightly routine and always made time for a story before going to sleep. No matter where we were – in our tent, a hotel, or the house of strangers – we read to our children before going to sleep.