Are you wanting to teach your child some early literacy skills but aren’t sure where to begin? Developing literary skills earlier on makes it easier for your child to learn how to read.
When children enter school with some literacy skills already under their belt, they’ll have an advantage and confidence that carries them through their early years. Unfortunately, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 in 3 children enter kindergarten without the necessary literacy skills.
If children show up to kindergarten unprepared, it may set a precedent for academic failure down the road. Luckily, there are some early literacy skills you can teach your child to help set them up for success. Read on to learn about the top literacy skills to teach your child.
When Do Kids Learn Literacy Skills?
Before you start teaching your child early literacy skills, it’s important to understand where they should be at. There’s no sense in forcing your child to learn difficult reading assignments if they’re not cognitively prepared for them.
While there seems to be a new product popping up every day that claims to “teach your baby to read,” many of these products contain false advertising and empty promises. Not to mention, teaching a baby to read on their own is nearly impossible, nor is it necessary for success later in life.
So, at what age do children learn to read? Unfortunately, the answer to that question isn’t simple, as every child is different and learns at their own pace. Some early childhood experts even argue that children can’t benefit from books until kindergarten or first grade.
They believe introducing children to books too early is counterproductive, and it could even result in a misdiagnosed learning disability, as children usually have short attention spans at this age.
However, while most kids don’t learn to read as infants, this is when they do start to develop literacy skills. For example, they learn to respond when spoken to, and they learn to respond to pictures and stories by patting pictures and vocalizing.
While this isn’t reading in itself, these early skills serve as the building blocks for learning how to read later on. By the time they’re toddlers, they should be able to point to objects to identify their meaning.
At this age, they usually pretend to read books and can sometimes finish sentences to books they know well. In early preschool, they begin to explore books independently.
In later preschool, they can begin to match letters and sounds, write their names, recognize words that rhyme, understand that reading goes from left to right, and recognize letters in their name.
In kindergarten, they’ll begin to produce rhyming words, match spoken and written words, and write some numbers, letters, and words.
Benefits of Teaching Literacy Skills in PreK Programs
While some argue against teaching literacy skills in PreK programs, there are many benefits to introducing literacy skills early.
During their early years and PreK years, children learn metalinguistic skills. These skills help a person consciously reflect on oral and written language and ponder how it’s used. Metalinguistic skills serve as the building blocks for reading development, and without these skills, children will have trouble succeeding once they start school.
Literacy is also the foundation for all other types of learning, so starting early can help children succeed in math and other subjects.
6 Ways to help children develop pre-literacy skills
Luckily, there’s a lot that you can do to help children develop pre-literacy skills. Children begin to learn language as soon as they’re born, and they soak information up like a sponge.
In the PreK stage and even earlier, there are many opportunities to help children develop pre-literacy skills that will set them up for success on their academic journey. Here are some tips:
1.Expand Their Vocabulary
Developing vocabulary will make it easier for a child to read and write words they already know. To help your child develop a broad vocabulary, encourage them to describe the world around them.
Describing your own surroundings and actions can also help a child learn. Also, look for children’s books that repeat the same words over and over again (such as Dr. Seuss books), as repetition will make it easier for your child to commit new words to memory.
2. Foster a Love of Books
The last thing you want to do is make reading seem like a chore to your child. Present reading like it’s something fun to do so your child associates positive emotions with books.
Keep plenty of books in your home, and start reading to your children at an early age. Also, remember that children learn by example, so reading on your own will help model positive behavior.
3. Present narratives
Presenting narratives to your child will help them when it comes time to learn reading and writing. One way to help children understand narratives is to perform a comprehension check when reading to them.
This simply involves stopping partly through a story and asking your child questions about the book, and seeing if they have any comments. You should also encourage your child to talk about their day, so they know how to present stories in a narrative way.
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4. Teach the ABCs
It’s no secret that learning the ABCs is important to a child’s literacy development. To break into learning the alphabet, you can start by teaching your child their initials and then the letters in their name.
You can also read alphabet books, and of course, sing the alphabet song.
5. Play With Sounds
Being able to map sounds and letters will make it easier for your child to learn how to read. Singing songs is a great way to help your kid build sound recognition skills.
Songs like Old MacDonald, Wheels on the Bus, and the Incy Wincy Spider can be particularly helpful.
6. Show Them Plenty of Print
Exposing your child to print words early on will make it easier for them when it comes time to learn how to read. Looking at books, posters, signs, and even words on cereal boxes will help your child pay attention to print.
As you can see, there’s a lot that you can do to teach your child early literacy skills. With these early literacy skills in hand, your child will soon be a confident reader.
When teaching your child early literacy skills, don’t forget to make it fun! As we mentioned earlier, the less they see reading as a chore, the more they’ll enjoy it.
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