Over the last few months, I have learned many new things about the world by reading the blogs of individuals and families who are traveling full time or extensively. I have fantasized about following in their footsteps and traveling full time with my own family. One of the first questions that came to mind is that of education for my children. During a hypothetical discussion with my husband, he asked if I could envision home schooling our three young children if we were to travel long term. My immediate answer was, “Once they can read, we can teach them anything.”
I am confident that my children will read and will therefore have the world at their fingertips. Sadly, there are many in the US and around the world who cannot read and will consequently miss out on discovering new ideas and exploring new places through reading. The Help to Read: Help to Empower campaign exists to raise awareness of this issue. Their focus is to provoke discussion about illiteracy and the impact it has not only on a person’s ability to navigate society, but his ability to be a continuous learner, to research and consider different perspectives, to follow his passions and to connect with people he has never met through literature.
As a mother and teacher, I believe it is crucial for young children to understand that reading is their connection to everything they love. Whatever their passions, whatever skills they possess, whatever dreams they aspire to fulfill, reading is a tool which will enhance them all. When teaching reading skills to our kids, we need to embrace this idea. Here are a few ways to instill a love of all aspects of reading in your child from a very young age:
1. Make connections between your child’s interests and written words. Whatever your child’s interest may be (cars, bugs, music, art, food), show the connection between the object and the word. For example, have him write the names of bugs he found outside or write them for him if he is not yet writing.
2. Show your child his words have value. When your child draws something, ask him to tell you about it. Write down what he says on his paper. When he experiences something new, ask him to tell you about it and write down those words. This shows him that written words have meaning and help to explain his thoughts to others.
3. Use books to further explore your child’s experiences and interests. Use your local library to check out relevant stories and reference books for your child. If she is fascinated by boats, check out books that describe different types of boats as well as stories that tell about people’s experiences on boats. If you are taking a trip somewhere, check out books about the location and types of wildlife or architecture you might find there. Show your child that books are the first step to exploring the parts of the world that are not in her immediate surroundings.
Reading is our connection to the world. It opens our minds to new ideas. It lets us experience people and places we may not otherwise meet or explore. It is often the reason we know more today than we did yesterday. When you engage your child in literature, you engage your child in life.
In addition to helping your own child become a reader, remember to find out more about the issue of illiteracy at http://steppingstonetutors.com/blog/help-to-read-help-to-empower/
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