As parents, we are always on the look-out for ways to help our children grow. There is never a dull moment in parenting – from watching in excitement as our little ones take their first steps and say their first words, to wondering if they are “on track” for their age. We (and our minds!) are constantly on the go.
One area that we as parents wonder about is Reading. We all recognize the importance of reading – it is truly fundamental to each one’s educational success and personal growth. However, we don’t always know how to encourage our children or interest them in reading, and if we’re honest, we don’t really think about it until they’re nearly ready for school.
Despite what many believe, reading skills can actually be focused on before your little one is ready to actually read. These skills are called Pre-reading skills, and they are the foundation in providing children with the strong base they need to excel in this area. Some pre-reading skills include: listening, memory, comprehension, rhyming, letter recognition, and effective communication.
During the pre-reading stage, preschool-aged children enjoy looking at books and being read to. They learn about words by looking at pictures and hearing them in songs/rhymes, and they begin to learn how text works (i.e. where a story starts and ends, along with the direction print proceeds).
They also start realizing that their own thoughts can be put into writing, and they use pictures and memory to tell/re-tell stories.
Without pre-reading skills, reading will tend to take longer and be more difficult. So if your child is nursery/preschool age, let’s take a look at what you can do to help them on their path to reading!
A Few Pre-Reading Strategies:
1) Talk with Your Child
Oral language is the basis for reading, so converse with your child (even when he/she can’t respond).
- Tell stories about familiar people in your child’s life
- Verbalize what you are doing and thinking
- Sing songs and recite rhymes – encourage your child to join in!
2) Read, Read, Read
- Make reading a routine. Children love routine, so try and set aside a special time daily where you read with your child. (Bedtime is often a good time for this!)
- Make reading fun – dramatize stories by giving different characters different voices and choose a variety of books.
- Re-read your child’s favourite stories – let your child choose the books he/she wants you to read.
- Read stories that involve repetition and encourage your child to join in.
- Point to words as you read them – this helps your child connect oral and written language.
3) Phonics – The Building Block of Reading
Children who are able to recognize phonics (the sounds of letters) have a head start in learning to read and (even more so) to spell. Thankfully, phonics doesn’t have to be boring!
- Play the “I Spy” game to practice beginning letter sounds.
- “I spy something that begins with ‘b’ (using the letter sound).”
- Later, you can make this a bit more challenging by saying, “I spy something that begins with ‘d’ and ends with ‘g’ (dog).”
- Make a rhyming basket.
- Put several small objects that rhyme next to each other in a basket, and have your child match them.
- Here is an example: pan/fan, jug/mug, cat/hat, fish/dish, and clock/block.
- Create a “mystery bag” with items that start with the same letter sound.
4) Make Letters Fun
- Practice forming letters using materials that are fun (and if you’re up for it, even a bit messy!)
- Pasta noodles, beans,
- Sand / flour tray
5) Matching Games
Matching games are great for building up your child’s future reading ability, and thankfully, it’s fun and engaging for children.
- Have your child play memory matching games with cards.
- Create pictures of cards with the words that match them (i.e. a picture of a flower and the word “flower”.) Even if your child can’t yet read, you’ll be setting the stage for his/her recognition of sight words.
Overall, enjoy this stage of your little one’s innate curiosity. While life is busy, as much as you can, take some focused time each day to talk and play with your child – a little bit of quality time goes a long way.
Author’s name: Melinda Albuquerque
Designation: Sunflower Nursery Manager
Melinda is a passionate childcare manager who loves taking part in the development of people: children, staff, and parents. Alongside her degrees in Intercultural Studies and Montessori Teaching, she has hands-on experience as a teacher. Her aim is to help all children reach their full potential by providing a safe, nurturing environment where they can flourish!
Sunflower Nursery – Al Ain, UAE
Website : www.sunflowernursery.ae