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It’s an exciting time. Your child is growing up and will soon be entering kindergarten. You are looking forward to watching them learn, but you have a little trepidation. You wonder if they have all the skills they need to be successful beginning readers.
Is there anything that you can do to help them succeed?
Yes! There are many things that you can do to help prepare your child to learn the reading skills they will focus on when they start school. And the good news is that you can help your child learn literacy skills by simply playing and interacting with them. There is no need for boring flash cards or worksheets.
Learning oral language skills is the first priority for beginning readers. Introduce concepts such as rhyming, sequencing, and story retelling to your child in a way that grabs their attention. Making learning fun from the beginning will promote a love of learning that will endure throughout their school years.
Learning how to rhyme and how to recognize rhymes is an important first step towards literacy. Rhyming helps children get familiar with the rhythm of language and lets them hear how certain words sound alike. Recognising rhymes now will help them with reading and writing later on as they will realize that words that rhyme are often spelled with the same letter patterns. There are many entertaining ways to practice rhyming with your child.
Most songs that children love to sing are rhyming songs. Sing along with them to their favourite songs. Once they’ve learned a song, have fun trying to replace the rhyming words in the song with another silly word that rhymes.
- Reading books with rhyming text or nursery rhymes aloud to your child helps them predict what word will come next. Read a line aloud and when you get to the next line, pause before the final word and see if they can predict what the rhyming word will be.
Being able to understand and remember a sequence of events will also make learning to read easier for your child. Stories, especially at this age, tend to advance in a logical way. Understanding sequencing directly impacts a child’s comprehension of a story.
Use sequencing words. When explaining things to your child, try using sequencing words such as “first”, “next”, and “last”. When describing the life cycle of a butterfly, for example, you could say, “First the butterfly starts off as a caterpillar, next he builds a chrysalis around himself, and at last the butterfly emerges with beautiful wings.” Make using sequencing words a habit when teaching your child skills such as tying their shoes and brushing their teeth.
- Play sequencing games. Try playing a sequencing game where you encourage your child to remember a list of words or actions in a specific order. You start the game by saying, “I was so hungry that I ate an apple.” Then your child has to add a word and repeat the sentence, “I was so hungry that I ate an apple and a banana.” Keep on alternating in this way and see how many things they can remember in the correct order. If your child prefers active games, you can practice the same skill with actions. For example, first you jump, then you skip, and then you touch your toes. Any activity that encourages your child to use their memory to recall a specific order will help them with sequencing.
When a child is able to retell a story they’ve heard, it demonstrates reading comprehension. Practicing this with your child will help them focus on the meaning of the words when they begin reading, rather than just being able to read the words without comprehension. Kids love to be read to and you should read to them as much as you can. But don’t stop there – let them “read” the book back to you by retelling the story.
After you read a new book to your child, hand them the book and tell them that it’s their turn to read a story to you. Based on the pictures in the book and what they recall from your reading, they will likely be able to tell you the basics of the story. If they get stuck, ask them questions about what they see on the page.
Having your child retell the story to you encourages them to pay attention to details and predict what comes next, all important skills to have when learning to read. Retelling a story while spending time with you lets them discover the joy of reading.
Getting your child literacy ready for kindergarten is a wonderful bonding experience. Children at this age are ripe for learning and love attention from you. They will soak up what you have to teach them while in their mind they are just having fun.
So, what can you do to encourage your child’s emerging literacy today?
© 2017 Kids First Children’s Services
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