Prioritizing education and how children can learn is critical in preventing a “generational catastrophe”.
Our practice is dedicated to families with children, and these are tough times for children. The United Nations' recent study shows that more than 100 million children did not have minimum proficiency in reading during COVID related school closures, with the greatest impact on second and third grade children.
Prioritizing education and how children can learn is critical in preventing a “generational catastrophe”. This means parents must help children daily and optimize their lifestyle and nutrition to help them learn.
Teaching children how to read is not easy and this short essay is just the basics of how to help your child. Working with teachers and tutors is critical if your child is behind. Parents can do many things at home:
1. Teaching children the phonetic sounds of the alphabet as well as sounds of how different vowels are put together (i.e. “b sound”, “sh”, “ch”, “th”, “ea sound”, “ee vs e”, “oo vs o”) is critical. You can use ready-made flash cards available at learning stores or you can make them at home. You can make this into a rhyme, song or whatever is creative for you. When you have fun with it, it is easier for children to learn!
2. Sounding out the words is important rather than just focusing on sight words. All signs and billboards you see, sound it out with your child.
3. The child should read at the level they are at, not where you wish them to be. I see many parents pushing children to read more complex books than they are ready. Their teachers can verify their reading level for you.
4. Read with your child daily. Reading since infancy has been shown to help children’s cognitive skills and word fluency. So read with them and read to them. Ask them periodically what’s going on and what they think of the characters. Give them your full attention and eye to eye contact improves language skills! You can read a book to them that is 1-2 levels higher than their reading level.
Reading Comprehension was low in the United Nations study and has been an ongoing concern for teacher prior to the pandemic. All higher education demands reading comprehension. So when reading, ask the child questions about what happened, why it might have happened and what they think might happen next. Who are the main characters? Then try a character analysis, which is a deeper dive into the character's personality and motivations. Oftentimes kids can tell you about kids in their class that are similar to the characters in their book and you can learn all kinds of useful things!
If the child does not know a word, have them look it up in a children’s dictionary. Have them keep a word journal to write down the words they were not familiar with. Review this journal periodically and try to utilize them in your day-to-day language which will help them incorporate them into their vocabulary. There are over 400,000 words in a dictionary. People with higher education use about 10,000 of these words on a regular basis and people who are less educated have an even smaller
vocabulary. The amount of words a child is exposed to before the age of three impacts reading ability later, but you can improve their vocabulary using this word notebook.
And at any age, increasing your vocabulary can help your children.