Parents. We all have them. Sometimes we love them, sometimes they drive us up the wall! Sometimes they aren’t related to us, and sometimes they can’t be with us. But we’ve all got someone we can thank for getting us to where we are today.
Parents play a vital role in the lives of children. From the day we are born, parents are our protectors, teachers, providers and role models. As families, they are the core of our communities. These parents come in all shapes and sizes, and take all kinds of forms. On National Parents’ Day we want to celebrate all these different kinds of parents, and most importantly to us, we want to celebrate how parents can help their children by reading to them.
Celebrating All Kinds of Parents
Some of you may be parents who have read to their babies in hospital, some of you may remember being read to when you had days off school with a cold. Some of you may have hunkered down under your duvets with a torch, hoping they wouldn’t get caught staying up until after hours to read, secretly knowing you couldn’t possibly get told off for reading!
Whatever kind of parents you are, or you know, you’ll know that parents can be the most important people when it comes to getting children reading. It’s recently been shown that reading and talking to children is as important as letting the child read, which gives parents a chance to share reading with their child, as well as engage them with questions about the book. A great way to engage kids with stories is to ask questions as you go along. What would you eat first if you were the caterpillar? What kind of hat do you think The Gruffalo would like to wear to a party? Ask your child which character they like best, or ask them to draw their own character to add to the story. There are thousands of ways to engage a child in reading, and it can be fun for all of you.
Reading to Your Child
As I mentioned in my previous blog, research indicates that children who have not been consistently exposed to books and developed the basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are more likely to drop out than those who have had the exposure. Children become excited when they read, or are read to by others, as this is a vital tool utilized to connect with them and teach them words and language skills. Books that display images and age-appropriate words grabs the attention of little eyes. Many adults find that adding sound effects and funny voices also make reading more enjoyable for children and they form the habit and actually look forward to reading time. Reading to children starting at a young age exposes them to ideas, creative thinking and words prior to entering school.
I have focused on reading here because that’s my world, but there are a million and one ways to appreciate having parents in your life, and not just on one day. Pick up the phone to ask your dad how his day went, pop over to make your granddad a cup of tea, send your mum a postcard when you’re on holiday, draw a picture for your stepmum to show her what she means to you; the list is endless. So, whatever kind of parent you are, and whatever kind of a child you are to them (big or little!) make sure you all spend a bit of time saying two very important words: “thank you”. Happy National Parents’ Day, everyone!