Five tips for preparing children to read all throughout the day.
Sometimes, it can seem daunting for parents to teach their children literacy skills from a young age, especially when balancing work, play, and other priorities. However, literacy entails not only reading and writing, but also speaking and listening. Luckily, parents can incorporate these foundational skills for literacy into everyday life, whether at home or on the go. The following tips are aimed toward parents of toddlers and preschoolers as well as early readers.
Reading aloud to your child
Reading aloud to children is one way to foster literacy skills. Whether fitting in reading during a few spare minutes of free time or having a set routine before bed, reading books aloud is important. First, it helps expose children to basic concepts of reading. As parents read, children will become more aware of print and that letters form words. Since books also contain a wider variety of words than in regular conversation, reading will also expand their vocabulary. This better prepares children for when they start reading on their own.
In addition, parents reading to their children also helps them understand how books work. Toddlers learn how to hold a book correctly and when to turn the pages. They can even practice holding the book themselves. Parents can also move their finger under the words as they are reading, which will let the child know to read left to right. All of these can be helpful in preparing a child to read.
Expose children to print
Another way to incorporate literacy into everyday life to simply expose children to print. For instance, parents can label different objects and furniture around the house, like “table”, “closet”, and “toy bin”. While children who may not be able to read yet, labeling allows them to see the words and become familiar with the idea that words represent something. In addition, having words around the house also highlights the importance of reading and writing. Aimed for toddlers and preschoolers, this technique can be helpful for parents who may not have much time within their schedule. Whenever they have a spare moment, someone can point out the different labels to their children.
For kids who have started learning to read, parents can incorporate literacy into playtime. For instance, if children pretend to run a restaurant, they can make their own menus. This approach can help present literacy as a fun, imaginative activity. It also can be helpful for particularly active young children who may not sit still as easily.
Make paper and pencil easily accessible
Another way to develop literacy skills is to provide easy access to books, paper, and writing utensils. Even for toddlers and preschoolers, having access to paper and markers or crayons can be helpful. Drawing helps them develop the fine motor skills needed for writing. It also helps them realize that words and pictures are symbols used to communicate. For readers of any age, being able to easily find books or writing supplies encourages them to pursue these activities at any time out of pleasure. In addition, the more children see their parents read and write, the more likely they will want to try it out themselves.
One way to improve accessibility for young children is keeping books in a bin or on a bookshelf low enough for them to reach. In addition to stashing supplies around the house, parents can even take these activities on the go. They can keep a bag in the car for when they run errands or have to wait in the doctor’s office. This will encourage kids to practice these activities anywhere.
Use nursery rhymes, songs, and games
Reciting rhymes or singing songs can be another fun way to incorporate literacy into a busy life. In order to learn how to read, it is critical that children gain phonological awareness—or realize that words are made up of different sounds. This helps children sound out words when they start to read. Rhymes are particularly useful because they help children identify the similar sounds within words. Singing songs and rhymes also is a fun and creative way for children to improve their listening and speaking skills.
Talking with children and explaining activities
Finally, parents having a conversation with their children can be just as important to improving literacy skills. As parents talk, wait for their child’s response, and listen to them, children learn how conversations work. For older kids, asking specifically what they did throughout the day can develop their understanding of narrative. This technique can also be easily incorporated throughout the day, whether over dinnertime, chores, or on the way to sports practice.
In addition to conversing, parents can also describe their actions as they are doing it.
Sharing the steps of laundry with a preschooler might seem silly, but this will help expand their vocabulary and connect the words with the actual activity. Connecting an activity with something a child recently read, like going to the park, can also be helpful.
Fostering literacy skills does not have to be time-consuming or difficult. These tips can be incorporated at any time of the day, whether during playtime, errands, or just daily life. As young children develop these crucial early literacy skills, they will have a better understanding of words and be better prepared to read and write.
For more literacy programs and resources, visit storytimevillage.org.