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Dear Parents,

Your children are about to take an important, great step: They will be going to school. This means that they will be entering new surroundings, entering into new relationships, becoming more independent and gaining new learning experience.

You can do a great deal to make this great step easier for your children. To do so, you do not have to become an "assistant teacher" and "continue" the morning's teaching in the afternoon or evening at home. But you will continue to be your children's most important contact: you encourage, comfort, mediate, help - and continue to talk over the successes and failures.

Your children have not only learned "their" language with you, with you they have acquired everything they now need: receptiveness, curiosity, self-confidence, readiness to learn … Accompany your children also when they are finding access to the written language, when discovering writing, reading, the world of books.

It is important that you support your children with all the new things they will be encountering, that you help them, above all, also to get to know how to write and speak the language: Only someone who can read, has all the chances in our society of gaining a good education, of being thoroughly informed and living independently. No television set can help here - one has to be able to read.

How can you help your children with reading?

  1. Read yourself! Examples are the best teachers.
    Children are good observers: They register exactly when and why "one" consults texts, for instance
    • because you need information,
    • because you want to know something "exactly",
    • because you want to check something you have heard or seen,
    • because you need advice (-- and know nobody who knows the problem!),
    • because you want to hear about adventures you cannot experience yourself,
    • because you need "time for yourself".
  1. Read to your children! Listening is a way to own reading.
    Reading aloud - for instance as a daily "ritual" before going to sleep - is not intended to be a language lesson! Your child should just realise that listening is nice that exciting and amusing stories are hidden in books.
  1. Give your children books of their own as presents: picture books, children's books,
    informative books …
    It is particularly sensible if you strengthen and deepen your child's special interests with appropriate books. Seek conversations about "real" experiences, TV experiences and reading experiences…
  1. Your child begins a reading course at school - accompany this course constructively!
    Perhaps your child will learn to read "differently" from the way you learned to read. Please don't disrupt the course by using a quite different method. But: Let your child read aloud what he or she can read! Learning to read has its difficulties - more than many adults assume. But small steps forward do deserve acknowledgement.
  1. Take your time - and let your children take their time
    Don't practise with your child if you are nervous or irritable - otherwise your child will also be nervous and irritable!
  1. Anyone who is to read needs quiet
    Don't allow the television to be on while your children are making their first attempts at reading.
  1. Anyone who is to read needs somewhere they can read:
    Perhaps a room, perhaps even just a reading corner with sufficient light and appropriate furniture.
  1. Anyone who is to sit quietly must also be able to get sufficient exercise.
    Allow your child to have sufficient exercise, play and sport outdoors!
  1. Create incentives for reading
    Wanting to read comes before being able to read. If your children have seen a film about dinosaurs on television and are interested in dinosaurs, buy them an informative book about dinosaurs … If you are planning a trip, obtain information material … Make use of the opportunity!
  1. Go with your children to libraries and bookshops
    It is not possible to own all the books of this world at home, one must show children ways already early on how one can get every book in this world!
  1. And if your children have particular difficulties with reading?
    If your children simply do not learn to read, there may be many reasons for this:
    Perhaps they cannot see well, perhaps they are having difficulty in distinguishing letters, perhaps they cannot concentrate … There are many disorders - it is almost always possible to help. Please first talk to the teacher - I am certain that the school can help you, even in the case of special problems - or will name someone who will help you further.

Being able to read is more than just spelling out and recognising words. It is the entrance to knowledge, culture and education. Accompany your children on this path, together with the school! I wish you and your children great pleasure and success in this.

Yours sincerely

Doris Ahnen