Start Good Reading Habits at a Young Age

If you are a parent of young children, you may be wondering about the role reading should play in your child’s daily routine. Most kids don’t become independent readers until they reach elementary school, but the building blocks for reading are laid early in life. So earlier is definitely better when it comes to establishing beneficial reading behaviors.  If you want to know how you can foster good reading habits in your little one, Red Apple Reading has some helpful hints!

READ EARLY
It is never too early to begin reading to your child. In fact, pediatricians are now recommending that parents read to their newborn children. When parents read aloud to their infants, great things happen:

  • Your baby enjoys hearing your voice and having a cuddle. Eventually he will begin to associate reading with these things and consequently develop positive feelings about books!
  • Even though he may not initially understand what you are saying, your baby is being exposed to language sounds. This exposure is crucial for speech acquisition and eventually reading.

Keep the following things in mind when reading to your infant:

  • Babies learn about their world by exploring it orally so books should be made of durable material (think board, plastic, or cloth) and easy to clean. When reading material is baby-friendly, mom doesn’t have to worry about her little one tearing pages or ruining the book with drool!
  • Simple is best. Begin with books that have just a few words per page and an interesting picture.

READ REGULARLY

  • Set aside a time dedicated solely to reading each day. Little ones can flip through their favorite books and recall the story or parents can read aloud to them.
  • Consider creating an inviting reading space for your child. A small bookshelf or basket filled with age appropriate books along with a comfy chair transforms a corner into a welcoming reading nook! This transformation will make reading time a more appealing prospect for your kiddo.
  • Get into the habit of reading a bedtime story to your child. Not only does this help establish good reading habits, but it also helps her wind down and settle in for bed.

READ AND PLAY
Little children learn best through play, so make sure to have literacy-friendly toys and manipulatives on hand. Here are some ideas:

  • ABC Blocks
  • Letter magnets for the refrigerator
  • Cookie cutters in the shape of letters to be used with Playdough.
  • Letters cut from old magazines can to be used for collages

As your kiddo plays with letters he will become familiar with them and learn to identify them.

READ YOURSELF
It’s important for little ones to not only be read to, but to also see the adults in their lives reading! If Mommy and Daddy are sitting down and reading a book, newspaper, or magazine, it must be a good thing to do!

It’s never too early to start laying a strong foundation for reading. In fact, the earlier parents begin establishing healthy reading habits, the more likely they are to raise an enthusiastic and successful reader. You may want to consider an online reading program to help your little one improve her reading skills. Red Apple Reading is designed for children ages 3-8. It teaches phonics, phonemic awareness, sight words, vocabulary, fluency and reading comprehension. Get started today with our free 7 day trial. You’ll soon discover that Red Apple Reading is serious learning that’s seriously fun!

 

Preparing for Summer Break

With school wrapping up for the year, school children across the country are itching to begin their summer vacation. Parents, however, realize what a mixed bag summer break can be. We love a more relaxed schedule but hate fighting the battle against mind numbing entertainment. How can parents plan a balanced summer for their little ones? Can we really have a fun break that also includes some education and structure? Red Apple Reading is helping parents plan the perfect summer for their little ones.

Ask yourself some questions
Think about what you would like your summer to look like. Are there any goals you have for your family? Do you want to spend more time outside? Read a certain book series? Teach the kids a new skill? Do more crafts? You’re more likely to have a productive break if you begin with some clear objectives.

Embrace a little structure
Once you know what you would like to accomplish, you can begin making a plan.  Start by making a loose schedule. For instance, you may want to dedicate the first part of the day to chores, have outside time before it gets too hot, and spend part of the afternoon reading. Your schedule will depend on your goals for the family. If you are a working parent who has someone come in to keep your child during the day, communicate your schedule to the babysitter.

Remember to be flexible
It’s always good to have a goal in mind for the day, but hold your schedule loosely. If your kiddo wakes up cranky you might need to give her some extra cuddle time on the couch. You may let your little one bring his tablet along on a day you have several errands to run. Remember, you rule the schedule, it doesn’t rule you.

Include some academics
The transition back to school in the fall will be easier if your kids have engaged their brains throughout the break. One of the best things you can do for your children is to have them read regularly throughout the summer. Many kids lose gains they made in reading during the school year when they neglect summer reading. You can also review math skills, perform science experiments and visit a museum.

Don’t forget the fun
Remember that summer break should be fun! Even if you don’t have any big trips scheduled you can still incorporate some fun activities into your week. Need some inspiration? Check out our Summer and Outdoor Fun Pinterest board.

Make this summer break the best yet! If you don’t have a subscription to Red Apple Reading’s online reading program, consider getting one for your kid this summer. It’s a great way for kids to have fun while brushing up on their reading skills. Try our free trial today!

 

Raising a Writer: Encouraging Creative Writing

 

Creative writing is an important and often overlooked part of a comprehensive curriculum. Many times parents tend to focus on the broader aspects of math, science, social studies, and language. While these are all worthy of attention and are certainly important in a child’s education, we need not neglect the more specific and creative aspects of their learning. Check out these great ideas about how you can help your little one embrace the creative writing process.

 

  • Read – Reading and writing go hand in hand. Your kiddo will probably never desire to create tales of their own if they are rarely exposed to good stories at home. Carve out a few minutes each day to read aloud to your little one.
  • Provide Writing Supplies –Keep writing utensils such as pencils, markers, crayons, pens, and paper in an accessible and inviting space. Even if your child isn’t old enough to write full sentences, she can use the supplies to draw as well as practice letters and words.
  • Create Opportunity – In addition to providing the appropriate supplies for writing, parents can also create opportunities for writing. Dedicate a certain time each day for creative writing. Even if it only lasts for 15 minutes, the fact that you set aside time in the daily schedule communicates that writing is valuable.
  • Foster Vocabulary – Your child will never learn a new word without first hearing that word. Be intentional about nurturing your child’s vocabulary. The best way to do this is through reading. You can also play word games together. For instance, if your son says that something is cold, you could ask him if he can think of other words that mean the same thing as cold.
  • Poetry – There are many different aspects to creative writing. Your child may not enjoy writing a story, but love to create rhymes. Make sure your kiddo is exposed to poetry by providing books of poems for her to read. She might be inspired to create a poem of her very own!
  • Make use of Technology – Most kids today are tech savvy. Your child might enjoy typing rather than handwriting something creative. Older children and teens may enjoy beginning a blog or contributing to online fan fiction.
  • Start Early – We cannot over emphasize the importance of beginning the process sooner rather than later with your child. If you wish to raise a kid who loves writing, begin nurturing these qualities at a young age.

There are so many fun and easy ways to begin fostering the creative writing process in your child. One or two little changes or opportunities may be all it takes to bring the writer to life in your little one. If you’d like some more ideas on how you can raise a kid who loves to write, check out Red Apple Reading’s writing and poetry boards on Pinterest.

 

Paws-itive Reading Progress: Reading Therapy Dogs and How They Help

Red Apple Reading - Reading therapy dogs and how they help

Every child is different, and developing each individual’s reading ability needs a combination of approaches. There are probably many things you’ve already tried – so how about something you may not have heard of? Reading to therapy dogs is gaining popularity as a way to develop reading ability in children, as well as improve their confidence and social skills.

Benefits
Studies of therapy dogs in medical settings have proven that interaction with a friendly canine helps to lower blood pressure and stress hormones. This demonstrates that they create a calm and relaxed environment. Dogs can encourage children to read by being non-judgmental and unconditionally supportive. They do not appear to be superior, and do not correct the child as an adult might. The focus of the session becomes the dog, rather than the child, which is valuable for those with self-esteem issues or social anxieties.

Positive Outcomes
Reading therapy dog sessions allow your child to make new, happy associations with reading and speaking aloud. Many parents of children who have undertaken the programs report more motivation and excitement for reading even after the session has finished, as well as increased confidence and communication skills.

More detailed information can be found on the Particular Paws website.

Contributed by freelance writer Jocelyn Brown

 

Literacy Crafts for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a holiday that just begs you to break out the glue, construction paper, and scissors and get crafty. Here at Red Apple Reading we think the only thing better is mixing in a little literacy with the craft! After all, you might as well sneak a bit of learning into the fun. This year why not try out one of these literacy friendly Valentine crafts with your kiddo?

 

Beaded Name Hearts
This Valentine craft from Fun-A-Day encourages literacy as well as fine motor skills. Kids arrange pony beads into fun patterns and thread their name into this cute creation. All parents need to provide are multi-colored beads, letter beads, and pipe cleaners.

Conversation Heart Letters
What’s Valentine’s Day without those sweet conversation hearts? Small children will get a kick out of practicing their letters with this classic candy. Kids place the candy hearts onto the letters to create a yummy alphabet. Visit TotSchooling to download their free conversation heart Valentine’s printables today!

Write a Valentine Letter
Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to pen a letter to someone you love. Encourage your child to write a letter to a special person in his life listing all the things they love about him or her. Afterwards, supply your kiddo with markers, stickers, glitter, etc. to decorate their note.

Jar of Hearts
Your child will create her very own jar of hearts with this special Valentine’s Day writing activity.  Whether she chooses to write down the things she appreciates or people she loves, she will end feeling grateful for all the good stored up in her jar. This free download is available from Inspired Elementary.

The Sweetest Thing Writing Activity
This Valentine’s Day inspired writing activity comes from The Applicious Teacher. Children write about their sweet acts then display them on a homemade heart or chocolate kiss. Visit the website for instructions on how to assemble this craft and to purchase additional printables to expand the writing project.

Valentine’s Card Sentence Scramble
Who doesn’t like to receive cards on Valentine’s Day? Your child can create this adorable folding caterpillar card for someone special in his life. Have him unscramble the words to discover the message, then place each word on a different section of the caterpillar. When the card is unfolded this message appears: “Valentine, I’m buggy for you”. Visit Scholastic for instructions.

Valentine Book Marks
Let your little one create a Valentine-themed book mark. Simply provide cardstock, markers, stickers, and ribbon. After she completes her creation, present her with a new Valentine-themed book to go with the bookmark.

K is for Kiss
If your child is currently learning her letters, she will enjoy making this “K is for Kiss” craft. The end result (a googly eyed chocolate kiss) is adorable! Visit Our Crafts-N-Things to view this cute project.

The Day it Rained Hearts Craft
This craft is based on the book, The Day it Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond. Your kiddo will love the finished creation with red felt hearts falling from tissue paper clouds and blue yarn rain woven through gray cardstock. Of course, you’ll also want to read the book that inspired this craft! Check out the instructions at I Heart Crafty Things.

Love Monster Paper Bag Puppet
Here’s another goody from I Heart Crafty Things! If your child is familiar with the book Love Monster by Rachel Bright, he’s sure to enjoy this fun art project. This simple craft only requires a paper bag, red construction paper, glue, and a little cardstock. When he’s finished he’ll have his very own Love Monster puppet! Read Love Monster today!

Get crafty this Valentine’s Day with an art project that combines the two great L’s – Literacy and Love. When you make one of these crafts with your kids, we have a feeling that you will be speaking their love language!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Red Apple Reading.