Improving with bedtime stories

Wednesday August 29, 2012

By KANG SOON CHEN
educate@thestar.com.my

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/8/29/nation/11891557&sec=nation

PETALING JAYA: Parents can help their children improve their English by spending 15 minutes reading bedtime stories to them every day.

Universiti Teknologi Mara Academy of Language Studies Assoc Prof Dr Cynthia Yolanda Doss said early literacy development of children began with listening, so stories told by parents could boost their speech and language development.

“Bedtime stories are never only read once. When the parent picks up the same book and reads with the children again, they will recognise the familiar words and this is how their vocabulary can be built,” said Dr Doss.

‘Booking’ a better future: Inaya Taqiyah (right) reading a book with her parents Mohd Yuzaidi Yusoff and Sastina.
She suggested that parents add dramatisation when reading the stories to pique the interest of the children in discovering reading for themselves.

“Children feel a sense of security and love when reading stories together with their parents. It’s a wonderful way to end the day for both,” said Dr Doss.

“We hope to nurture thinking skills in young minds by encouraging them to ask questions about the stories.”

The ScienceDaily website reported that University of Alberta education psychology expert Dr George Georgiou had published a study in the Learning and Instruction journal in 2010, explaining that children learn English better in a literacy-rich home environment.

Since spoken English is inconsistent with the way it is written, he said children needed someone to show them the letters and read out their sounds.

Architect Sastina Suwandi said her daughter Inaya Taqiyah Mohd Yuzaidi, seven, “is an active child who could hardly sit still to read a book but she loves being read to”.

“My husband and I didn’t send our two daughters to reading enrichment classes because we believe that it is better for parents to read with them,” said Sastina.

Inaya Taqiyah recently participated in Cambridge English For Life’s Reading Rocks competition in which children aged seven to 12 read out selected texts from a book and answered questions from judges.

“Although we speak English at home, it is important that the children are exposed to reading early because that is how they pick up new vocabulary and grammar rules,” said Sastina.

Retired teacher Tan Ling Suan who volunteers her time reading stories to children with special needs at hospitals and a children’s centre, said parents set a good example when they spend time reading together with their kids.

“Even though the children may not be able to read and understand all the words, they are usually drawn to the pictures in the stories. It is then that we get them to be interested in reading gradually,” she said.

English for More Opportunities is part of The Star’s ongoing efforts to highlight the importance of the language in helping people get ahead in life. To share your views and inspiring stories or give us feedback, please e-mail englishformore@thestar.com.my

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