In general, young children are able to read English (or Japanese) from around the age of 6. There is a real window of opportunity here to get your child really interested in reading English, up until the age of 10. Of course you should continue to encourage reading before and beyond these years but this period is golden.
The ability to read English is an important part of children’s English education. There are a great many international kindergartens in Tokyo and several English schools in Musashino who are able to teach the reading of English professionally. Even just putting your child into Summer School can be of great benefit. While exposing your child to native English speakers will be an obvious advantage, the best way to start however is to follow a few basic tips so that you can get your child prepared.
Below are seven tips that you can use before, during and after your child enters an international kindergarten, English school or preschool.
1) Read English often. You Should read English to your child often in their younger years. Don't worry if your child is too young to understand. Just listening to the words you form and your tone of voice will prepare and influence them for the next stage of learning. If you are not a native English speaker don't worry if your pronunciation is poor. At this early stage it is the leadership and emersion that is more important.
2) Be a good reading role model. The best way to influence your child is to be a good role model. Its great if your kids can see you reading a book, either at home, on the train, or in the park. Preferably not just your phone. Let your kids see that you have a real interest in books, by doing this you are setting a positive example.
3) Encourage comics. Let your kids read plenty of English and Japanese manga, so long as it is age appropriate. This is particularly beneficial for reluctant readers as the pictures help carry the story at a faster pace making the reading experience more enjoyable. Enjoyment is the number one predictor of reading success in young learners so this sort of encouragement is important.
4) Make sure your child’s room has plenty of English books. Encourage family and friends to give you child English books for their birthday and other celebrations.
Visit secondhand English book shops and grab so bargins.
Encourage the grandparents to buy English books for your child too.
5) Get English books that match you child’s interests. Even better, take this a step further and try to match a whole series of books that your child will really enjoy. For example if your son is interested in soccer buy books that teach him soccer tricks that he can practice.
6) Encourage your child to read, don't nag. If you encourage your child to read rather than nag them, they will naturally want to take to reading English in a positive way. If you force them through nagging this will have a negative impact on their desire to read.
7) Teach your child the difference between fiction and non fiction. This will benefit the older child and give them a better comprehension of what they are reading. You can take turns reading chapters from a favorite book and then discuss the different aspects of each chapter in relation to fiction and non fiction.
To encourage your child to get into reading, adults have to really get involved and show an interest in the subject. Its never too late to do this, but starting early has great advantages that will benefit your child. As parents and kindergarten teachers we all have the responsibility to lead our children down the path towards a great love of books and reading that will greatly shape the way they live and learn in the future.
The ability to read and to love the process of reading really is a vital step towards opening the door to greater learning in the adult world. Lets give our kids this wonderful gift, so that they in turn can pass it on.