How parents can set children up for reading success

A child lays on the ground of a library smiling while reading an open book

A UF Health expert shares how to identify and address reading difficulties in children (Adobe Stock)

One of life’s greatest pastimes may be settling in with a terrific book. In honor of March’s National Reading Month, Laurie Gauger, Ph.D., an assistant clinical professor of speech, language, and hearing sciences at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions and director of the UF Reading Program, shares tips for parents on building children’s reading and language skills, and signs that indicate a child may have dyslexia or another reading disability. With the right support and interventions, young children can become skilled and confident readers.

Question: How can parents foster children’s reading skills?

Answer: The skills that support a child’s ability to learn to read actually begin at birth with the development of oral language, which becomes the foundation for reading and writing. Parents should talk to their children constantly, starting in infancy. They should read books with them, talk about the pictures in the book and what’s happening, and point out the names of objects. All this will help children develop oral language skills, making them more ready to learn to read when they start school. Other ideas include playing word games, rhyming and reciting nursery rhymes. These tasks make the child more aware of the different sounds in words and how words can be similar, such as rhyming words like cat, bat and hat.

Also, families should have lots of books in the home and parents should let their children see them reading. Parents should make reading fun by going to the library and getting books on topics their child is interested in.

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Jill Pease March 11, 2024