Reading to your child introduces her to how letters actually sounds.
You've seen the commercials that show young toddlers reading flashcards and impressing their family and friends. Newsflash: most of those children aren't reading; they're memorizing. Bummer. Now for the good news. The things you do with your toddler or preschooler now can promote early literacy skills and make it easier for him to read later in life. Don't count on your kiddo picking up a book and really reading it until kindergarten or first grade, though. Reading only happens when the child is developmentally ready to read.
1Read picture books to your child every day. Most toddlers and preschoolers love books with colorful illustrations and simple text, such as a sentence or two on a page. Ask him what he sees. "Where is this story happening?" He says, "Home." "Why do you think they're at home? You see a kitchen table and a couch. Good." Ask him what might happen next in the story. Encourage him to use the pictures. If the characters are outside and see dark clouds, your child might predict that it's going to rain. Ask, "Should they go inside if it starts raining? Why?" This allows your child to make connections between what he's hearing in the story and what he experiences in his own life.
2Talk to your child as often as possible. Easy, right? Tell your kiddo what you're doing as you make dinner, clean the house, grocery shop and run errands. Relate them to the stories you've read. At the supermarket, ask, "Remember the story about the boy at the grocery store? What foods did his mom put in the shopping cart?" Cleaning house isn't entertaining, but it might be more enjoyable if you're interacting with your child. You might ask, "What should I use to sweep the kitchen floor? A mop or a broom? What does broom start with?" Engaging in this way helps your child comprehend the world around her, which builds connections between the written word and what she experiences on a daily basis. These are critical skills for reading success.
3Create a print-rich environment for your child. Of course, you already have books in your home. Go one step further and label things in your house. Cut some printer paper into strips. Use a black marker to write the words for items such as, Door, Table, Couch and TV on the strips. Tape the strips to the appropriate objects. No, your child won't be reading; just memorizing, but when he points to a label and tells you what it says, he'll be building his knowledge of letters and the sounds they make. Point out letters on his favorite box of cereal and ask him to tell you what they are. Answer with "Great! Now see if you can find two more letters on the box. Can you tell me what they are? What sound do they make?"
4Find opportunities to review letters and sounds, wherever you are. It's entertaining and it'll begin laying the groundwork for your child to become a good reader. Take your child to the zoo and ask her to point out letters on the signs near each animal enclosure. Read the signs to her. She might not understand each word, but simply hearing the sounds and words sets the stage for reading success. Ask, "Have you ever seen this animal before?" or "Can you think of other animals that start with the same letter sound?" In the car, ask, "Do you remember driving this way before?" Point out street signs and ask, "What letters do you see on that sign? What sounds do they make? Can you find something else that starts with the same sound?"
Things You'll Need
- Picture books with easy words
- Printer paper
- Black marker
- Clear tape