Did you know you could help your child become a better reader while watching football (insert most any sport)? The greatest thing about this idea is it does not matter what level of the sport you are watching. This is important as people sometimes don’t like every level of a sport – many opt-out after the college level as a protest of what professional athletes make.
There is no doubt that reading with children spells success for early literacy. Fortunately, there are words to be read everywhere, not just from books. For instance, while spending a relaxing Sunday afternoon watching your favorite team with your child, help him name the teams by their team jersey. If your child is not yet school-age, have him identify letters and numbers as you watch the game together. If he already knows his numbers and letters, help him read the players’ names on the back of their jerseys.
If your child can already read and write, you can assist him by allowing him to Google the roster for one of the teams playing. Encourage him to write a letter to his favorite player. Encourage him to imagine himself as a football player and then write a story about how living that life is for him. To do these things, encourage him to do a little research on the history of football and write a short story about one of the eras, i.e., the beginning of history, the introduction of the American Football League (AFL), the merger of the National Football League (NFL) with the AFL, etc.
Other strategies for creating strong readers can be linked to your chosen sport through the following strategies:
- Invite a child to read with you every day (there are many books about sports available in your local library).
- When reading a large-print book, point word by word as you read. This will allow your child to realize that reading goes from left to right. It will also help her understand that the word she is saying is the same one she sees.
- Read your child’s favorite book again and again and again.
- Read many things with rhyming words and lines that repeat. Encourage your child to join you when you get to those sections. Again, point word by word as she reads with you.
- When new words emerge from the text, discuss them with your child. Ask questions that will cause her to think more about what is being read.
- Read from a variety of children’s books, including fairy tales, song books, poetry and information books.
- Pause occasionally and ask your child what she believes how the pictures in the book are related to what she is reading.
The bottom line is two-fold. Being able to read well is at the heart of learning. Children who cannot read well will not learn. Secondly, if you don’t have a child or grandchild with whom you can read, look around. There are scores and scores of children who would love for you to read with them.