What is one of the greatest predictors of a child’s future success in life?
Many of us might answer proper nutrition, early childhood opportunities, early intervention, or even a parent’s income. While all of these items do play a part in shaping a child’s ability to succeed, research is finding a strong correlation between reading out loud to children and the path to success. Using literature to help children excel isn’t a new concept. However, for children with Asperger’s and other forms of autism, reading out loud is especially beneficial when it comes to developing comprehension and confidence.
The Benefits of Reading Out Loud
One of the most obvious benefits to reading with children is that it allows them to hear the spoken English language. This is especially important for kids who are on the spectrum, because the repetitive and repeated exposure to words will help them develop literacy and a better understanding of how our language actually works. This will help them learn and solidify the basic rules of grammar. Over time, listening will improve their concepts of verb and subject agreements, commas, sentence structure, and the basic format of a story with a beginning, middle, and end.
This is important, because it will encourage our kids to learn the fundamentals of communication which will help them find their voice. In a roundabout way, exposure to the written word helps a child gain confidence in their ability to speak and communicate their ideas. Hearing words spoken aloud gives kids the opportunity to hear proper pronunciation. This will build their confidence when reading out loud or using new vocabulary in their writing and speech which will strengthen bonds with peers and family members.
Literature is also a wonderful medium to model appropriate behaviors and relationships. We can use books to expose our kids to new learning objectives, principles, social skills, and situations. Whether it is educational concepts or finding ways to overcome adversity, characters in stories can help introduce ideas from the safety of our homes or classrooms. This can help kids visualize and verbalize proper ways to engage in social settings, acknowledge emotions, develop empathy, and comprehend difficult subject matter.
5 Ideas for Maximizing Reading Out Loud for Kids
Listed below are some tips to help your family find success when reading out loud with children:
Read everyday. Set aside time daily to enjoy books with your child. It doesn’t matter if you read in the morning, noon, or night, as long as you consistently read books together. You know your child’s schedule and moods the best, so adapt their schedules to accommodate a few minutes of reading aloud time.
Read a variety of genres. Kids need to be exposed to a variety of genres and different styles of text. Try to find nonfiction or fiction books that interest your child and hold their attention. Remember that children can often listen and comprehend at higher grade levels than what they can actually read. Don’t be afraid to choose books that are more advanced than their reading level, because they can be helpful in boosting your child’s comprehension and mastery of content. Over time, this will give them confidence to try new subjects and keep them interested in reading.
Let children choose the materials. Depending on a child’s interest and reading level, consider books with a lot of repetitive phrases, interactive features like sound or touch, and characters they enjoy. If a child finds pleasure in reading with you, they will more than likely be excited to continue this practice. Don’t be afraid to reread material or delve into subjects a child finds fascinating.
Create a safe area to read. It’s no secret that some children with Asperger’s have a sensitivity to environments. Adjust an area of the home to make your child feel secure so they can enjoy listening and interacting with you. Dim the lights, find soft blankets, or use scents to create an ideal reading space for your child. This will avoid distractions and possible meltdowns, while allowing your child to enjoy listening to you read.
Choose books that model appropriate social skills. Children deal with a lot in their young lives and need help processing situations they may encounter. Make sure to take advantage of literature to help them learn coping skills or social skills through the safety of another person’s viewpoint.
What methods does your family use to help your child develop comprehension skills and confidence with literature?
credit: This is a guest post from Amy Williams