Raising a Reader

The preschool child’s brain grows and expands each year and continues to grow even at age 5. The intellectual abilities of preschool children are growing by leaps and bounds … and preschool children are always building on earlier experiences and incorporating new ones.

However, kids ages 3-5 are not emotionally or cognitively prepared for heavy doses of formal education. Preschoolers have lots of questions and are curious about many things.

What is Early Literacy?

Early literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they can actually read and write.

The six pre-reading skills your child can start learning from birth are:

1. Print Motivation

2. Phonological Awareness

3. Vocabulary

4. Narrative Skills

5. Print Awareness

6. Letter Knowledge

Here’s a look at each one in more depth.

Print Motivation is a child’s interest in and enjoyment of books.

What can you do?

• Make reading aloud a quiet and comfortable time your child enjoys.

• Let reading time be fun for you and your child.

• Set aside short periods of time for reading aloud.

• Remember that sticking to a schedule is not as important as the mood of your child … and you, too!

• Choose stories you like yourself.

Phonological Awareness is the ability to hear and play with smaller sounds in words.

What can you do?

• Use singing and sing throughout the day as you go about your daily routine, as songs have a different note for each syllable.

• Recite nursery rhymes to help your child learn that words are made up of smaller parts.

• Say tongue twisters and play word games.

• Repeat, repeat, repeat – repetition is how your child learns.

Vocabulary is knowing the names of things.

What can you do?

• Expand on what your child says, and encourage your child to speak in complete sentences.

• Talk a lot, because the more you talk to your child, the more rapidly vocabulary develops.

• Use a variety of words.

• Read books that contain different vocabulary from your conversation, and explain unfamiliar words.

• Reinforce skills with positive rather than negative feedback.

Narrative Skills is the ability to describe things and events, and to tell stories.

What can you do?

• Listen as your child tries to talk … be patient!

• Name things and objects that are real and in picture books.

• Label objects around the house.

• Narrate your life, tell stories or share what is happening.

• Use dialogic reading when you read aloud. Ask your child “what” questions about the story.

Print Awareness is noticing print everywhere, knowing how to handle a book and knowing how to follow the words on a page.

What can you do?

• Show your child how to turn pages. Let her try, too.

• Use every opportunity to talk about print while driving, walking, shopping, etc.

• Point to the words in the book from time to time as you read.

• Choose books with letters and images that are easy to identify.

• Make paper and pencil readily available, as drawing and scribbling are related to an interest in reading.

Letter Knowledge is knowing that letters are different from each other, and that they have different names and sounds.

What can you do?

• Point out how things are alike and different.

• Feel and talk about different shapes.

• Share ABC books, sing the alphabet song and play alphabet games.

• Let your child see his name written.

• Play with magnet letters.

Source: Public Library of Charlotte-Mecklenburg County

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Reading Tips for Families

• Begin reading to your child as soon as possible.

• Create a cozy reading area with quality early childhood books.

• Share books with your child every day — even if just for a few minutes.

• Choose a time when you and your child are relaxed and happy.

• Select books with clear and simple pictures.

• Notice what your child looks at and then talk about it.

• Use plenty of expression when reading.

• Lead by example … and let your child see you reading.