5 Easy Steps for Growing Strong Readers
Talk with your child
Children learn new words and understand new ideas when you talk to them and they talk to you. The connections children make through the give and take of that process trigger greater brain development.
- Talk about your day: As you go through your day, talk to your child about what you’re doing. This helps to increase their vocabulary and background knowledge.
- Leave space for your child to talk: When you read to your child, make sure you give your child an opportunity to talk about the book. This helps to strengthen their understanding of story.
- Ask Questions: Children like to read the same book again and again. Each time ask different questions about the words, pictures, and events in the story. This ramps up the interest level and the amount of learning that takes place.
Sing with your child
The ability to break words into parts is an important pre-reading skill. Singing helps children learn that skill because we use different notes for different parts of a word.
- Don’t worry if you don’t have a great voice: Even if you don’t have perfect pitch, each syllable still gets a different note when you sing. This will help your child learn to sound out words when he or she starts to read later on.
- Sing a variety of nursery rhymes: Nursery rhymes often use unfamiliar words. So, in addition to breaking words into smaller parts, nursery rhymes are a great way to build vocabulary.
- Sing the alphabet to different tunes: The alphabet song is a great way for children to learn the names of letters. You can mix it up a bit by simply trying a different tune.
Write with your child
Writing and reading go together. Writing helps children see that letters and words stand for something.
- Combine writing and playing: When possible make writing a part of play. For example, if your child is playing “kitchen”, have them write out a grocery list.
- Add captions to drawings: When your child draws a picture, ask them to write a description below it. You can even get them to write their own story by having them add more pictures and descriptions.
- Let them fill out their own name tag: When you come to storytime, we usually have name tags. Let your child fill out their own name tag. Even if it’s just scribbles, it’s still great practice for them.
Play with your child
We sometimes forget it, but play is an important part of learning. In fact, play is one of the primary ways young children learn to understand the world around them. Those lessons, in turn, form the basis for understanding the stories they’ll be reading later.
- Act out stories: Incorporating movement by having children act out a story is a great way to help them understand and remember what they’re reading or hearing.
- Play with blocks: Building things with blocks is a great way to teach children the meaning of spatial words such as “above”, “below”, “beside”, etc.
- Play Pretend: Learning that one thing can represent another thing is an important pre-reading skill. Kids strengthen that skill when they pretend that a pencil, for example, is a microphone.
Read with your child
Reading with your child remains the most important thing you can do to help your child become a strong reader. Reading with your child:
- Shows them how books work (e.g. which side of the book is up, that we read from left to right and we turn pages).
- Helps them understand stories have a beginning, middle, and end.
- Fuels their imagination.
- Exposes them to words and ideas they might not come across every day.
- Teaches them to enjoy reading.
- Use books with unfamiliar words: Picture books play an important role in building a good vocabulary because they often use words that are less common in everyday speech.
- Don’t worry if they want to read the same book over and over: Repetition is good. Kids gain a better understanding of the story each time they read a book.
- Mix in both older classics and new favorites: There are great new books coming out all the time. But there are some older books that are classics for a reason. By mixing in both, you’ll make sure your child stays interested.
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