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Building Blocks for Reading with CARE with Preschoolers

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Written by Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D.

Welcome to our final installment of “Reading with CARE” for Preschoolers! We hope you have found this series useful when considering different ways to read with your young children.

Building Blocks for Reading with CARE with Preschoolers

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c_blockComment and describe objects, colors, numbers, sizes, letters, emotions, and actions of pictures in books. Talk about the pictures in your native language while you point to the pictures, or run your finger under the lines of the words as you read them.  Take turns interacting and let your child turn the pages and be the story teller by encouraging and listening to him/her talk about the pictures or retell memorized stories

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a_blockAsk  open-ended questions and explore book together. Ask questions that show you are interested in the child’s thoughts and ideas.  E.g. “What do you think will happen next?” “What’s interesting about this page?”   Avoid asking too many questions or your child will think you are testing him.  To keep a balance you can intersperse open-ended questions with descriptive comments.  E.g. “I see a red car and one, two, three, four trees.  Oh, there’s a little mouse.  What do you see?”  When you do ask questions, don’t “test” your child about facts (e.g., “what color is this?” “what shape is this?”).  Questions with right or wrong answers put the child on the spot and may cause anxiety or resistance.

Examples of open ended questions:

“What do you see on this page?” (observing and reporting)

“What’s happening here?” (story telling)

“What is that a picture of?” (promoting academic skills)

“I wonder how she is feeling now?” (exploring feelings)

“What is going to happen next?” (predicting)

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r_blockRespond and listen attentively with smiles, encouragement, praise and delight to your child’s thinking and responses. Follow your child’s lead and empower his or her confidence.

“Good thinking, that is a tall giraffe.”

“You really thinking hard about that.”

“Wow, you know a lot about trains.”

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e_blockExpand on your what your child says. You can expand by adding a new word or similar word to what your child says or by reminding her of a personal experience or event in her life that is similar to the story in the book.

“Yes, I agree he is feeling excited, and he might be a little scared as well.”

“Yes, it is horse; it’s also called a mare because it’s female.”

“Yes, that boy is going to the park. Do you remember going to the park with grandma?”

You can also expand by encouraging your child to write his own stories, or dictate them to you and write them down.

“That’s awesome. You are learning your letters and are learning to read and are going to be ready for school.”

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You can expand by encouraging your child to problem solve solutions to the story plot and act out their ideas with puppets.

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Reminder to:

• Read in a quiet place, turn off any competing noises such as TV, stereo, radio or computer. Even the phone should be turned off during this time.

• Avoid commands and criticisms when children are reading.

• Allow children to reread stories as often as they wish. This is a pre-reading skill and leads to mastery and confidence.

• Read to children every day and allow them to see you reading.

• Offer a variety of books such as folk tales, poems, informational books, fantasy, fables and adventure stories.

• Involve siblings and grandparents in reading to your child in their language.

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~The Incredible Years Team

Content of this blog ©The Incredible Years®


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Building Blocks for Reading with CARE with Babies

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Written by: Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D.

Did you know that there is a connection between how much you talk to your baby and his or her later reading abilities and school success?

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Studies (e.g., Hart & Risley) have shown that by 18 months, children from low-income families hear significantly fewer words in their homes than children from higher income families. One recent study from Stanford University showed that by their 3rd year, low-income children have heard 30 million fewer words than higher income children (full article can be found here). If this language exposure gap continues, by the time these children get to kindergarten they will need remediation because they are already far behind in the language and school readiness skills needed for school success. Since early vocabulary is connected to later success in reading comprehension, this language gap presents a barrier to these children’s future academic learning achievement. It was also found that TV talk not only didn’t help, but it was a barrier.

Often these parents just don’t know that it is important to talk more to their babies. The good news is that randomized control group studies show that programs such as the Incredible Years® Baby, Toddler, and Preschool Parent Series result in improvements in children’s social and emotional language skills and school readiness.  It has been shown that low income parents can successfully learn to focus their attention and learn to talk more to their babies and children using descriptive commenting, persistence, and social and emotion coaching language during child-directed play and reading interactions.

See these studies:

Preventing Conduct Problems and Improving School Readiness: Evaluation of the Incredible Years Teacher and Child Training Programs in High-Risk Schools

Preventing Conduct Problems, Promoting Social Competence: A Parent and Teacher Training Partnership in Head Start

Halting the Development of Conduct Problems in Head Start Children: The Effects of Parent Training

Here are some tips to building your baby’s language vocabulary through reading interactions. This is not about flash cards, use of Ipads or computers, or memorization of words. Rather it is about loving, child-directed conversations while reading books, playing with your child, or engaging in everyday routines. And yes, you must turn off your mobile phone 🙂

Building Blocks for Reading with CARE with Babies

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c_blockComment, point to and describe objects, colors, emotions, sounds and actions of pictures in touch-and-feel books. You don’t need to read the actual words in the book, just point to and talk about the pictures using your native language.  For example, “Teddy’s nose is yellow. Baby is hungry. The train is slowing down.” Allow your baby to touch the book and even to put it in his/her mouth.

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a_blockAct enthusiastic using physical dramatizations and sound effect.  For example, “that is a bird, he goes chirp chirp.” (Use your hands to make a chirp sign). Use a melodious voice varying the pace, phrasing, voice rhythm and pitch of your words.  Pause between sounds or vocalizations to allow your baby to respond.

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Respond with smiles, encouragement, eye contact, cuddling and delight to your baby’s smiles, body signals and pointing movements; follow what your baby is looking at and be child-directed in what you respond to.

 

e_blockExpand on your baby’s sounds.  If your baby says a syllable such as “la la” or “da da,” mirror or repeat the sound. Or, if your baby says “ball,” repeat the word and add a descriptor such as the color or shape of the ball.  “Yes, that’s a big, red ball!” If you have other children, read what they like while you are holding your baby. Let them read to your baby and imitate your baby’s sounds. Start reading at any page and make up your own stories or sing while you are looking at the book.

Remember:

• Be sure your baby’s head is supported and you are both sitting in a comfortable chair.  You might use a pillow or a sling to support your baby so that your hands are free.

• Read in a quiet place. Turn off any competing noises such as TV, stereo, or radio; this will also prevent overstimulation or stress.

•  There will be variability in individual baby’s interest in books, so don’t worry if your baby does not seem intently interested or starts crying.  Respond to your baby’s cues.  If (s)he seems fussy or uninterested in the book, try changing your tone or reading a different book.  If these new strategies do not engage him/her, then stop trying to read, and do another soothing activity with your baby. Try again later.

For more information, see the Incredible Years® Parents and Babies Program, and the book, Incredible Babies: Ways to Promote Your Baby’s Social, Emotional and Language Development by Carolyn Webster-Stratton.

Next week, we will bring you part 2 of this 3 part series: Reading with CARE for Toddlers.

References

Hart, Betty & Risley, Todd R.American parenting of language-learning children: Persisting differences in family-child interactions observed in natural home environments. Developmental Psychology, Vol 28(6), Nov 1992, 1096-1105. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.28.6.1096
Fernald, A., Marchman, V. A. and Weisleder, A. (2013), SES differences in language processing skill and vocabulary are evident at 18 months. Developmental Science, 16: 234–248. doi: 10.1111/desc.12019
Reid, J. M., Webster-Stratton, C., Baydar, N. 2004. Halting the Development of Conduct Problems in Head Start Children: The Effects of Parent Training. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. Vol.33(2) 279-291.
Webster-Stratton, C., Reid, M. J., University of WA, & Stoolmiller, M. 2008. Preventing Conduct Problems and Improving School Readiness: Evaluation of The Incredible Years Teacher and Child Training Programs in High-Risk Schools. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 49 (5), 471-488.
Webster-Stratton, C., Reid, M. J. & Hammond, M. School of Nursing, University of Washington. Preventing Conduct Problems, Promoting Social Competence: A Parent and Teacher Training Partnership in Head Start. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology. Copyright 2001 by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Content of this blog ©The Incredible Years®