Parents are in a powerful position to show their young ones the
importance of reading, as
well as the value of being lifelong readers.
We most commonly think about books when we talk about reading. But
what about the many other
objects around us that require reading? There are
menus, newspapers, transit
schedules, tax forms, contracts, stock reports, food
containers, recipes, graphs,
road signs, maps, and instructions for putting things
together. Your approach
to these, in your childís presence, will be crucial for
helping him to see reading
as a useful and necessary life skill and tool.
Share this concept with your child: various types of reading work in
different ways. For example,
when looking up a program in the TV listings, you
explain how you have to
skim down the left-hand column, passing the hours in
chronological order. When
looking up a destination on a map, you demonstrate
how the alphabetical index
works, and then how you match the coordinates
given on the map itself
to find the destination. When looking at a recipe, you
show how there are two parts
to it: the list of ingredients and the process you use
for putting them together.
Being able to read in these situations will enable you to find the program
you want to watch, find
the place you want to go, and prepare the food you
want to eat. These are valuable
motivations for being able to read.
Another important lesson you teach is that you do not have all the
answers just because you
are an adult. Children think their parents, teachers,
and most other adults are
omnipotent. We have it all! We make the rules, not
follow them. No wonder that
their play in adult roles includes lots of giving orders
to each other!
But it is valuable to get across the idea that adults, just by virtue of
adults, do not have all
the answers! We continue to learn, too, as we grow up.
And we always will.
This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children
Well: A Teacherís Advice for Parents.