Kindergarten Readiness: Reading

Here are some enjoyable activities you can do with your child to help prepare her for kindergarten.

Are Certain Kinds of Books Better Than Others?

Exposure to many different kinds of books will increase your child’s language skills. For example:

  • A good place to start is with picture books, Mother Goose, nursery rhymes, and books about familiar objects and experiences.
  • Even after he has outgrown picture books, he will still enjoy hearing a good story read well. Find a book that is just a little beyond his own capabilities.
  • Select books about concepts, such as shapes, and read slowly so he can absorb the material. Check his understanding by asking him to explain what he has learned.
  • Find books about real-life people, places, and events to expand and deepen his knowledge. Study the pictures together to see how they illustrate the facts.
  • Read books that tap his emotions. Ask him how he feels about the emotional parts and which characters he can identify with. Share your emotions about the story as well.
  • Laugh together at humor and nonsense books.
  • Compare the artwork you find in a variety of books. Encourage him to create his own illustrations for his favorite books.

What Is the Best Setting for Reading?

The best time for reading to and with your child, or for having him read to you, is when he is rested and content. A quiet environment will keep distractions to a minimum. Have him sit close to you so he can see the book. If he is wiggly, try reading to him while he is in the bathtub. Remember that he may want to hear a favorite book over and over again. He will begin to memorize the story, and that’s a stepping stone in the process of learning to read.

Remember, too, that he may well want to “read” to you, even before he can technically do so. Encourage this behavior, because telling the story while pointing to the pictures is an important pre-reading skill.

Avid readers acquire their love of reading at home, from their parents. No teacher can pass along a passion for books the way a loving parent can. Children remember cozy bedtime stories, sharing books with friends and siblings, and the freedom and encouragement to read lots of different kinds of books.

Is Learning How to Write Connected with Learning How to Read?

It certainly is! Even before they enter kindergarten, most children take the first steps toward experimenting with print. Here’s how you can support your child’s earliest attempts at writing:

  • Scribbling is an early form of writing for little ones. Your child may be able to tell you a great story from his scribbles. Ask him!
  • If you see him attempting to copy words he sees around him — a label or a book title, for example — ask him to tell you what they mean. Once again, he may have a great story to tell you.
  • The next step most children take is to draw letter-like forms — a precursor to alphabet letters. He may try to take a word apart and break it into pieces in his attempt to sound it out. The more you read with your child, the sooner he will be able to make the connection between the words he is learning and what they look like in print.

When your child seems ready for more complex tasks, encourage him to print his name beginning with a capital letter and using lowercase letters for the rest. Help him to learn his address and phone number, his birthday, the days of the week, and months of the year. These skills represent major steps in learning language. Remember that praise for even small improvements in any of these areas reinforces his willingness to try harder.

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