Saturday, March 01, 2008

Reading opens up a world of possibilities for your child

One of the lessons I learnt from my experience in teaching children reading under the kidsREAD programme with the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC) was how reading opens up a world of possibilities for your child!

Children are imaginative and creative

We were all children once. :-) If you observe children, you will realise that even in the absence of toys or distractions, they will sometimes come up with their own games and activities fashioned out of their very own creative minds.

Children have the power of imagination. However, even their imagination is bounded by what they hear, see, read and experience. One of the ways in which we can expand their experiences vicariously is through reading to them and getting them to develop this lifelong love for reading! Reading opens up realms of possibilities for them.

Fiction or story books, especially help them to dream about far-away places. Fantastical scenarios and creative characters that they may not meet in real life. Such stimuli helps them see the world of possibilities that exist through the settings, worlds and universes available through the story book.

Interaction with children through stories

When I interacted with my children during kidsREAD classes, I always made it a point to make the story interactive. Reading to children shouldn't be a monologue or a lecture. It is to bring to life the story in the book to the children, and to DRAW THEM INTO the world you have painted. How do you get the children interested in the book in the first place?

When I select a story book to read to the class, I will try to choose one that is suitable for their age group in terms of the level of vocabulary as well as the subject matter. Next, I will look for those books with beautiful or interesting illustrations as children are very attracted to well drawn illustrations that help them visualise the story and setting of the book.

Before I even start reading to the children, I will ask them questions to warm them up to the topic on hand. For example, when I was using the book "Wembley Worries" by Kevin Henkes, I would ask the class if they ever worried about anything in their lives. From there I would slowly ease the class into the book which showcases a mouse named Wembley who was a serial worrier until she met someone almost exactly like her and they learnt to worry less about things.

Children's books are easily available at public libraries

Nowadays, the amount of children's reading materials available at our well-stocked public libraries are amazing! What we lack is the time, energy and effort to sustain the reading effort to our children. If you are a parent, make time to read to your child regularly and your child may be the next top Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) student like Natasha Nabila Muhammad Nasir who was also 2007's top Malay student. who said that,

"The secret of my success is reading. I have been reading since I was two years old and I think that has helped me a lot. Through reading, I gained a lot of knowledge."

Even my sister who is an educator in mainstream education system in Singapore tells me that children nowadays can speak better than their previous cohorts, but the test of their academic achievement is still in reading and writing especially when it comes to continual assessment and year-end examinations.

Reading to your children will reap dividends for years to come.

Go visit any public library's children's section today!