By reading to your child every night or another established time suited to your schedule, you will have developed a routine by the time your child is three. Now is the time to continue to expand the experience and provide the foundation for your little reader to emerge.
The preschool years are a great time of curiosity for children. Feed that curiosity with literature of all sorts. Continue to read stories with simple plots, but also include a lot of nonfiction.
This is the time for your little one to be exposed to the world of science, history, geography, and other subjects of interest. It is also time to introduce in earnest books on good behavior. Many series include lessons on how to behave, for example: How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food by Jane Yolen, Berenstain Bears series, and Sesame Street series.
As children become more verbal, ask questions as you read. Using familiar stories, ask what is going to happen next? Children begin to understand sequence of events with a familiar story and therefore, are positively reinforced for guessing the right answer. Have children pick what to read by asking between titles, between characters, and between events. By asking them to choose, you are encouraging their investment in what they want to hear and later, read. By asking using a variety of comparisons, it focuses the child on different elements of a story. Children are then ready to move forward into the next stage with identifying characters and main events.
Preschool Reading Activities
When reading, point to the words as you read. This reinforces concepts about print. Always ask questions about what happened to check for understanding. Besides providing a variety of materials, read from a variety of sources. Read from magazines, newspapers, online, as well as books. Make the environment literacy rich.
Reading rhyming books and books with expected text helps children to learn to read. Practice rhyming words independently of reading. Again, use different sources including nursery rhymes. When reading rhyming books, omit the last word of the rhyming set and encourage your youngster to guess what it is. Not only are you helping with understanding rhyming, but context clues on what the likely word should be.
Moving into Kindergarten and Primary Years
This is time for your child to become and emergent reader. Begin with predictable text books, that have repeated phrases. There are so many to choose from but some favorites are: Are You My Mother? By P.D. Eastman, Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss, and The Little Red Hen by Treadwell and Free.
During this stage, begin to look at sight word lists. Dolch sight words and High Frequency words are available online. These lists a how the words children need to know by sight. If they are to become fluent readers. The Dolch list is levelled by grade, beginning with pre-primary. Choose one of the words, such as “the” and whenever you see it in the text, have your little budding reader say it. Before you know it, your child will begin to learn these very important sight words.
Phonics is a very important tool in reading. Begin to add sounds to the letters, whenever possible. Begin with words they already know. For example, when passing a McDonalds, say M, make the sound with exaggeration, and then say the word. They already know that one and recognize the big “M”.
Decoding vs Comprehension
Decoding, or reading words, is just the beginning. Reading words without comprehension is not rewarding. Most teachers will tell their students that reading is thinking. That means, the student needs to think about what is going on in the book.
There are many strategies to teach comprehension. This quick guide could not begin to cover the strategies. However, the beginning strategy is recognizing story structure/elements. Once your child is kindergarten ready, start using the correct terms when asking questions. For example, don’t simply ask where is this story taking place, also ask what is the setting? Ask who are the main characters? Ask what is the main event? What are the sequences of events? If you are ambitious, ask what lesson do you think the author was trying to teach us?
Kindergarten to Emergent Reader
Your kindergartner will be responsible for knowing all the letters and the sounds, beginning sight words, and basic story structure. When you read, pick some books that your child is able to read to you. Make it a back and forth arrangement. Further, as skills improve, you could read harder books, taking turns reading pages.
Finally, remember the most important thing you are doing is making reading a fun activity. Encourage the engagement and prepare your child for life-long learning. Parents should model reading for learning and entertainment with their children. Take time to read your own thing together as a family. Children do indeed learn by example.