I've been accused on more than one occasion — okay, more like a thousand occasions — of being a grammar nerd and a book worm. But I'm proud to wear those titles, and I hope that some day my kids might be accused of the same thing. Because if they are, that would mean they both speak proper English and love to read — a homeschooling mom's dream!
So I thought I'd share my thoughts about how to raise grammar nerds and book worms, which I'm earnestly striving to do with my own kids.
1. Always, always, always use good grammar, especially when talking to your kids. Even when they’re babies, try to use proper English when speaking to them. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk baby talk, just talk baby talk with correct English. Remember, kids learn by example.
2. Gently correct your child’s grammar from the moment they start talking. If your 3-year-old daughter says, “Mommy, the dog goed outside.” respond with, “Oh, really? The dog went outside?” Don’t belabor the point, just repeat what she said using the correct words. She will catch on quickly. (And if you do these first two steps consistently, you'll find that your kids will breeze through much of their English grammar classes in school.)
3. Read books that use good grammar, whether you read aloud or your kids read them. I know not everyone will agree with me on this, but there are a few book series out there that I don’t like my kids to read simply because the books are so grammatically incorrect. While my kids are not yet secure with their own spoken grammar, I don’t want them overly exposed to wrongly conjugated verbs. As a result, I don’t like my kids to read books like the Junie B. Jones series until they can recognize the incorrect grammar on their own.
4. Sing the alphabet song…early and often. Make it more fun by playing pat-a-cake while you sing, or alternate saying the letters with your child. Just make singing the alphabet song a frequent occurrence. When your child officially begins to learn to read in school, she will be way ahead of the game. There are entirely too many children who begin kindergarten without knowing their alphabet, and those children are at a definite disadvantage when they try to learn to read.
5. Point out letters to your child wherever you see them. If you see the letter “A” on a store sign, point it out to your child and say the name and/or sound. Make a game of it. Before long, your child will be able to tell you the sound each letter makes. (I know from personal experience that this really works. According to my Mom, I learned to read at age 4 by reading the letters on a McDonald’s cup.)
6. Read aloud to your child as often, and from as early an age as possible. Don't be afraid to choose books that are beyond your child’s reading or spoken language level to read aloud. If you need help choosing great books to read, Ambleside Online has great booklists of quality literature from which you can choose, many which are available free online.
7. When your child is looking at the book you are reading aloud, use your finger to follow the words as you read.
8. Have your child read some of the words while you read. For example, let him say all the “a”s or “the”s or even the main character's name. How exciting for a 2 year old to “read” a book with Mommy!
9. Set up a special place for your child to read. Make sure it is comfortable and has good lighting, and then encourage them to use their special place to read something every day, even if they're just looking at the pictures in a book.
10. Give your kids books as gifts and help them build their very own library of beloved books on a bookshelf in their room.
11. Get your child his own library card, and make trips to the library on a regular basis.
12. Encourage your child to explore different genre. When your child finds a genre or author they particularly like, go the library and check out some of those books. Not everyone will be a fan of every genre, so help your child find out what especially appeals to them, but try to expose them to as many genre as possible.
13. Be a good example. If you want your kids to be good readers, make sure they see that you love to read as well.