Having told this story before, my children were readers at age three. To date, I can’t tell you how I did it, but I can tell you some of the things I did that supported early reading skills. In fact, I didn’t start out trying to help them read, nor did I think they would, but it worked out that way. It came naturally and we had fun.
The U.S. Department of Education states that children who read every day have higher scores according to a variety of surveys and tests. Parents who read to their child every day help cultivate a love of reading and books. It isn’t too much of a challenge to help your child begin reading at an early age. Actually, it’s lots of fun.
Here are a few strategies that incorporate fun activities along the way to developing early literacy:
#1. This one is very basic. There is need for nothing more than a picture book. The key is repetition and excitement. Lots of praise and help from you. Usually one of the first books given to babies and toddlers are those with vibrant colors, big pictures and just the letters of the alphabet as introductions to object identification, sound and letter recognition.
Before your child reads, letter recognition must be learned, and before letter recognition, objects are identified. Things like identifying a ball on a page, will precede accurate recognition of the letter on the page with that ball. Point out that ball, describe it and invite your child to say the word, too. Once your child can reliably identify that ball on the page, move up to the first letter that the word ‘ball’ begins with. Repeat this throughout the alphabet and pictures in the book.
Continue to point out the ball on the page, advance to the first letter sound of that object and then move on to the word itself. This sequential type of learning activity helps build the foundation for reading. One picture book can take you well into the toddler/preschool years, and depending upon how soon you begin with your child, the foundation skills of reading will have been developed.
#2. This is one for children who may be reading already, as a beginner. Whether your home is fully furnished or you are minimally furnished, you can help your child with reading and spelling, and building sight vocabulary with everyday relevance.
What you’ll need is just cardboard, construction paper or lined paper and a bold marker or thick pen[for large, clear letters]. Walk around your house and label what you see. Such things as stove, window, spoon, chair, rug, table, etc... Make the words easy in the beginning, for early readers. You can eventually graduate to words for objects such as refrigerator, television, microwave, etc….
As you and your child walk around, point out the labels and make sure that he or she understands that each word describes the object. Practice spelling and saying the word. Making associations between the object and its name also helps to spell and recognize words, which may, in your child’s reading development, become like ‘sight’ words-easy to remember, identify, spell and pronounce.
You may want your child, together with you, create sentences with a particular word or words. Silly sentences are the most fun, as long as you communicate the absence of logic of the sentence meaning. Then structure a meaningful sentence using the word[s]. The idea is to have your child grow accustomed to the fact that for every object, there is a word to describe it and actions and feelings, too.
Both of these activities can be adapted to the skill you hope to help build. Grow your child’s word recognition, spelling, pronunciation, vocabulary, and basic literacy. All of the learning that takes place is structured within fun activities. For children, LEARNING IS FUN, and as long as you are excited about the process, and praise efforts, your child will want to do it every day. And you should!!