Inculcating Reading Habits in Children
A steady reading habit can be a treasure chest that keeps on rewarding in unexpected ways. The earliest research in reading is dated from the year 1878 when the French physician Emile Javal studied the link between eye movement and reading fluency. Since then a surge of research and now the New Education Policy continues to list it right on top of the learning pyramid.
While it’s never too late to indulge in a book, its benefits are evidently immense when cultivated right from childhood. Children’s brains are malleable, and plastic and can process information at a rapid rate.
A reading brain is a lot like a choir of singers. Each singer has a role in supporting the choir, just as the different parts of the brain support the process of reading. One part handles text awareness and decoding while the other handles fluency and production of speech sounds.
Five elements of robust reading are phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.
What can a parent, caregiver, or teacher do to facilitate this assimilation?
Providing a rich variety of texts is a logical first step. Permitting the child to choose increases the odds of successful completion. Even though the children may not be able to actively read, they’d still draw information from illustrations, photographs, diagrams etc. For early readers, it helps if the selection relies heavily on decodability. For mature readers, it could be a text that complements the subject matter the teacher wants to hone.
What if children choose a book too easy? That’s ok too. Re-reading familiar text is a great way to build fluency and reading confidence.
Teacher actions take centre stage in developing curiosity, confidence and collaboration through a language-rich classroom. Teachers do a lot of talking, modelling, instructing, thinking aloud and reading. The “teacher talk” makes students imagine what good language sounds like. Read-aloud are another great way to spark conversations and get students talking through open-ended questions that allow them to make and share personal connections. A language-rich classroom is never a quiet place.
Carving out a time dedicated to guided and independent reading helps build interest. “I wonder” statements can uplift any book to a superior level. Some sample prompts; I wonder which character would you like to be friends with? I wonder what could be another suitable title for this book? I wonder what would happen if the main character thought differently.
What would you do to your instructional routines to put more emphasis on creating a reading culture in your classroom?