Your preschooler has mastered the ABCs, can count to 20, and is a pro at colors and shapes. Once these basic skills are attained, your youngster is ready for the next step: reading. While your child will spend their early elementary school years developing their reading skills, you can get a jump start on reading before kindergarten. With some at-home practice, you can help your preschooler build basic reading skills so that kindergarten is a success.
Follow these tips to launch your youngster’s love of reading.
Number 1: Read Together
To teach your child to read, you need to read to them early and often. Incorporate daily reading into your schedule, whether you’re reading after a day at preschool or before bed. To instill a love of reading, give your preschooler some control. Let them choose the books, taking a trip to a library to pick up some new books.
To begin to introduce your child to reading, choose books with short, simple words and phrases in a large font that your child will be able to see clearly. While you read, run your finger under each word so that your child can “read” along. Break down short, simple words into multiple syllables and sound them out with your child. These introductory reading skills during your regularly scheduled reading time introduces your youngster to basic reading concepts.
Number 2: Play With Letters
Make letters fun to boost your preschooler’s letter recognition, which is essential for early reading. While tracing letters can be effective, add a creative twist to this classic preschool activity. Fill a bin with a thin layer of flour, uncooked rice or play sand, and let your child trace letters with their finger. Pull out the letter magnets and let your youngster play with them on your refrigerator, which will reinforce letter recognition while they’re having fun.
Number 3: Point Out Everyday Words
Teach your preschooler how to sound out words that they see every day. When you’re driving in the car, use this time as an opportunity to look for words and phrases they recognize on signs, for example. Ask your preschooler what letter the sign starts with or work together to sound out the words to read the sign. Establishing early phonetic sounds as a team can help build reading skills for your youngster.
Number 4: Introduce Early Phonics Concepts
Work with your preschooler to break down bigger words into syllables so that they can grasp basic phonics ideas. Pick multisyllabic words that you encounter often in books, and clap each syllable to break the word down and put it back together. Set this phonics practice to music to make it more engaging.
Number 5: Hop on the Computer
Look for engaging early reading games and skills online. You can find virtual libraries that your youngster can explore, with many featuring read-to-me books that allow your child to read along with the computer. Some of these sites require a monthly subscription, but you can usually sign up for a free trial to see if your child enjoys it before making the commitment to a subscription.
Number 6: Practice Writing
Reading and writing go hand in hand. As your child develops their writing skills, they’ll be building their language and, in turn, their reading skills as well. They can trace letters, do letter-related crafts, or practice writing their name and other words they know to build their writing skills.
Number 7: Play Guess the Word
Pick up some short, well-illustrated picture books that feature minimal text and large words. Then, read to your child and let them fill in the blanks as you omit words for them to sound out. These beginning reading skills can build your child’s confidence, so choose short two- to four-letter words for them to sound out. As their skills develop, they can use context clues and phonetics skills to sound out bigger words in the book.
Number 8: Add Some Poetry Into Your Practice
Rhyming words are another good place to start when you’re introducing early reading skills. Kids will enjoy the pattern of the rhyme, and they’ll quickly pick up on identifying words that rhyme. As they see these words in print, they’ll be able to find the commonalities between the words and, eventually, sound them out.
If you can’t find kids’ poetry books that your child loves, then write your own poems. Write rhyming words on index cards and let your child select them to create a poem. You can write them on a chalkboard or dry erase board or even glue the index card on a sheet of butcher paper to put together your poem.
Number 9: Teach Word Families
Focus on word families to build your child’s reading skills even further. For example, select one word family a week to focus on. Teach your child how “jet” can become “set,” “wet,” “bet,” and more by simply changing the first letter. Work with them on identifying the sound and then identifying corresponding words in the family.
Number 10: Practice Sight Words
Once your preschooler has grasped many of the above concepts, dive into sight words to get a jump start on kindergarten. Kindergarten sight words list include those words that children should memorize for improved reading. Use flashcards, write them on a dry erase board or write them in chalk on the driveway to practice rote memorization that’ll get them ready for reading.
Many of the skills your child develops in preschool are the building blocks to reading. Whether they’re learning to recognize or write their letters or looking for patterns and rhymes, they are quickly building the skills they need to start reading. Supplement this preschool learning with these fun, easy-to-tackle tasks to help your child learn to read. Whether they master the skill in preschool or simply enter kindergarten with early reading skills to build on, you’ll be happy that you made this extra effort.
Author Bio: Cristin Howard runs Smart Parent Advice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. Cristin writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase for babies and toddlers.