Reading with your child just 15 minutes a day can have a positive life-long impact on learning. Getting your little one engaged is more meaningful than how many books you read in that short amount of time because quality is more important than quantity. There are many reading strategies to engage small children and one of the easiest to remember is OWL: Observe, Wait, Listen. Keep reading for how to implement this strategy with your little kiddo today!
Children won’t always tell you what they are thinking, therefore, face and body language can provide you with a lot of information and be used to check for comprehension. If your child looks confused, stop and talk about what you read. Use the pictures to talk about what’s going on in the story and clarify unknown concepts and vocabulary. If your child is still confused, try saying it a different way and relate what’s going on in the story back to something they are familiar with already. By observing your child, you can see what parts of the story they are interested in and you can make comments and talk about what they found interesting, keeping your child engaged.
Before turning the page or moving on to the next part of the story, give your child the opportunity to comment on the story. If you’re not sure how long to wait, count to ten. Waiting lets your child have the opportunity to think about what they heard, ask questions, and make comments about the story. Tip: you don’t have to read the entire story in one sitting; remember quality over quantity.
Be careful to listen to what your child is trying to tell you, even if it’s just a sound. If you’re not sure what your child said, try your best to use context clues to guess what they are trying to communicate. If you’re still unsure, make sure your child knows you’re trying your best to understand them, and what they have to say is important to you. Tip: do not interrupt your child when they try to spontaneously communicate a message. Let them finish their thoughts.
Remember, even 15 minutes can help build language and literacy skills that last a lifetime. Help make the most of those 15 minutes and Happy OWLing!
Blog post written and submitted by Speech-Language Pathologist Leslie Janezic