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posted 23 Oct 2011, 05:31 by Webmaster Alqamar   [ updated 23 Oct 2011, 05:31 ]

How do you make a child a reader? This question was addressed at “A Reading Child”, a workshop held at Al Qamar Academy, International school, on Saturday 22nd October.  The workshop was attended by mothers of children attending Al Qamar and teachers from a wide variety of schools. 

“Reading is a complex blend of many skills” said Sadiya Saleh, the moderator of the workshop. “It involves understanding letter sounds, knowledge of decoding and encoding words, a good vocabulary, comprehension, fluency of reading and motivation.”  When a child is reading, it looks so simple that we don’t realise how complex the process is.  The first skill a child needs to learn is that words are composed of sounds or “phonemes”.  All children are usually exposed at an early age to the idea that a group of letters make a sound – they see words all around them on product wrappers, ads, billboards etc. Parents can make flash cards to introduce this idea to children even as young as six months. They can also emphasize sounds to very young children by stressing the first or last sounds in words.  Later in schools, a child should be taught to read using phonics which has to be combined with sight reading of non phonetic words.  Ms Saleh encouraged schools to concentrate of oral language in the early years instead of teaching children writing straight away.  Children should be given the opportunity for both listening to spoken language and expressing themselves. This helps in building the vocabulary which will later be essential for reading. 

Ms Salah spoke on how a widely read child is usually successful both academically and socially. Research has shown that children who are avid readers by the 3rd class are usually good at school work, have good self esteem and self confidence and are creative and expressive.   “She put things so simply and practically that I can immediately put her advice into practice” said Umm Arsh, a mother of a 5 year old.  

The participants brainstormed on what all they can do to create a positive environment at home for reading.  Parents should read themselves to create a positive role model.  Parents should also set aside some time daily to read to their young children and make it a bonding exercise.  They can make a reading corner at home with a shelf at the child’s height with attractive, colourful books.  One suggestion was to always give books as gifts instead of toys or games. Frequent visits to a library help in instilling the reading habit.  Another suggestion was to switch off the TV which distracts kids from reading. Audio tapes of books can help some children to learn to read.

“Reading is a habit strongly encouraged by Al Qamar” said the Correspondent Aneesa Jamal. “We encourage children to take story books home everyday, not just weekly or monthly. They can borrow as many books as they want and keep them for as long as they want. As a result, not only are our students are becoming avid readers, they are frequently writing articles and stories from a young age of 5 itself!” She encouraged the mothers to adopt these practices and set aside time daily to read to their child.

For more details on upcoming educational workshops, contact Al Qamar Academy at al_qamar_academy@yahoo.in. Ms. Saleh can be contacted at “Learning with a Difference” at learningwithdifference@yahoo.in