Parents and other caregivers are children's first teachers. There are five simple practices that adults can use to help children get ready to read. These practices are familiar, can easily be incorporated into everyday routines, and do not require expensive materials. These are ideas that you can use today and every day, to help children develop the skills they need to enter school ready to learn to read.
Children learn language by listening to their parents and others talk. As they hear words, children learn how words sound, which helps them decode words. They learn what words mean, which increases their vocabulary. They learn how words can be put together to communicate ideas and information.
Books are wonderful conversation starters!
Songs are a natural way to learn about language. Songs help children develop listening skills and slows down language so children can hear different parts of words. Clapping along to rhythms helps children hear the syllables in words and helps them improve motor skills. Singing also helps children learn new words and adds to their general knowledge.
Reading together with your child is the single most important way to help him or her get ready to read. Shared reading helps a child develop a love of reading and an appreciation of books. Children who enjoy being read to are more likely to want to learn to read themselves.
Reading and writing go together. Children become aware that printed letters stand for spoken words as they see print used in their daily lives. Once your child can grasp a thick crayon or marker, give him or her paper and plenty of opportunities to draw and write. Talk to your child about what he or she draws, ask questions, and respond to what your child says.
Children learn about language through different kinds of play. Play helps children think symbolically: a broom becomes a horse, today becomes a time from the past, a playmate becomes an astronaut, princess, or animal. Through play, children realize that one thing can stand for another. This helps children understand that written words stand for real objects and experiences.
The library offers spaces, programs, and materials that will guide your child on the path to reading. Come visit us to learn more about how you can help your child develop these essential early literacy skills.
Information is excerpted from Every Child Ready to Read @ your library.