Reading is a life-long skill that is enjoyed by many. As parents, we hope that our children will have an easy time learning to read, with limited frustration and maximum satisfaction in the process. Much goes into learning to read, even before children begin “sounding it out” or “writing it down.” What can you do as a parent to support your pre-reader?
- Start Early
You may not realize that literacy development begins at birth. Reading skills are directly linked to a child’s oral ability and understanding. Talk to your baby. It may feel crazy at first, but the more you talk, the more she will understand as she grows. Describe your daily activities, explain what you are doing around the house, give names to common objects. When your baby babbles, reply back. Children who are exposed to a larger vocabulary are more likely to have an expansive vocabulary of their own.
- Rhyme Time
The skill of phonological awareness is key to reading development. What is phonological awareness? It is the ability to notice and manipulate sounds in spoken language. This includes alliteration (identifying the same beginning consonant sounds in a group of words), recognizing and producing rhymes, and segmenting (separating individual syllables into sounds). Utilizing rhyme, poetry, and silly sentences when talking to your child will help build these skills. While driving, offer up a word and ask for a rhyme or another word that begins with the same sound. Have your child clap while saying and separating favorite words into syllables.
- Tell a Story
It isn’t always easy to create a magical fable on the fly. Try your best, though, as the skill of creating a storyline with a beginning, middle, and end will help guide your reader. Being able to remember key information from a story, predict what will happen next, and connect the story to personal experiences builds reading comprehension skills.
- Just Read!
It goes without saying that the best thing you can do to guide your child towards a love of reading is to read with them. Make reading together a part of your daily routine. Talk about what is on the cover of the book, and what they think is going to happen in the story based on the artwork. Share the name of the author and describe what an author is. Let your child hold the book and turn the pages. Stop mid-story and ask for input about what she thinks will happen next or if he remembers who that person in the picture is. Let your child “read” a familiar book to you.
Ultimately, all children will learn to read. By making the process a fun, family affair and building skills early in your child’s life, you can take the focus off of the final goal of simply “learning to read” and instead, make this an enjoyable journey together into the rich world of literacy.