Your young child is eager to learn. He is curious. He is open to new things. His brain is developing and needs to make new connections through new experiences. It also needs to strengthen those connections through repetitions of those experiences. This is the stage where you provide him with experiences that prepare him for learning.
Don’t leave it too late. When your child is of school age and begins formal education, she needs to already have those learning experiences. Children exposed to early learning experiences are at an advantage and do far better at formal education than children who are only just starting.
Nowhere is this more true than in reading. Young children who are exposed to reading will display pre reading characteristics. This is where they mimic reading by looking at pictures in a book, sometimes they retell the story in their own words, they look at words and pretend they’re reading and even make their own stories or books by drawing and ‘writing’ then retell it.
Pre Reading Through Play
When you introduce your child to reading, do not make him sit down and drill into him letters and words. Young children learn through play. Whatever you teach him needs to be done through play. If it’s fun then he’ll want more of it so base the pre reading activities around play.
Since these activities are preparing your child to read, you can start as early as babyhood. It is basically surrounding her with sounds, letters, words and books.
What Your Child Can Do
1. Play with sounds. Listening to the sounds in the spoken words is the first step in phonemic awareness. Nursery rhymes, made up words and silly songs are fun ways for your child to play with the sounds of words.
2. Play with letters and words. Familiarizing with the shapes of letters and words prepares your child to recognize them. Provide her with a variety of letter shapes such as m,a,e,r,s. There are so many fun ways that she can play with these.
3. ‘Read’ books. Choosing a book to read is as much fun as reading it. Your child gets to revisit old favorites many times. Make books available to your child so that he can choose his own books to read.
What You Can Do
1. Read to yourself. When you are reading you are modeling reading to your child. Remember that children learn more by seeing what you do rather than what you tell them to do.
2. Read to your child. Generate a love of reading in your child by reading to her. What child doesn’t love to get comfortable on her parent’s lap and listen to a book being read?
3. Talk, tell stories and ask questions. When you talk, tell stories and ask your child questions, he develops language and comprehension skills which are so important to reading.
4. Label things. Put labels on items around the house so your child becomes aware of words.