Teaching Your Preschooler to Read: 6 Easy Tips You Can Try at Home
Dr. Seuss once famously wrote, “You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax all you need is a book!” We all know the value that comes from being able to read, but many parents worry they are unqualified to help their child learn reading skills. Not so! Much of the practice children need to hone their reading skills can (and should!) take place at home without the child even realizing “practice” is taking place.
That’s why we’ve created this list with 6 easy tips for helping you encourage your preschooler to read. We think you’ll find these tips easy to implement, and you might be surprised just how fun learning to read can be!
1. Make your home a print-rich environment.
This means going beyond having plenty of picture books lying around. Subscribe to a couple of child-friendly publications like Ranger Rick, Ladybug, or Highlights, and make sure they are easily accessible for curious eyes.
And don’t be afraid to label household items! Placing name cards around the home will help children associate sounds with letters.
2. Help children get comfortable with letter sounds.
Learning to read is no easy task, and it can be confusing for little learners when they are trying to associate letters with the sound they make. For example, when we say the name for the letter c, it is pronounced “see”, yet most preschoolers first learn to associate the letter with the hard c sound found in the word “cat”.
Rather than teaching them to associate a letter’s name with its sound, try pointing to a letter and asking them what sound it makes. If you’ve labeled items in your home, you can use the labels to help. For example, you could ask your child to name an object like the family car, then point to the first letter on the label and say, “If this is a car, what sound does the first letter make?”
3. Enlist the help of letter magnets.
Letter magnets are great for helping children learn to connect letters with their sounds. Most children will be learning simple CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words at school, and magnets are an easy way to reinforce the lessons at home. Try writing out the word CAT using magnets and ask your child to sound out the word. Once they sound it out, remove the first letter and replace it with another to create a new word—bat, rat, mat, sat, and so on. Children love making the connection between letters and sounds, and this game will have them feeling like successful readers in no time.
4. Talk to your child.
It sounds so simple but having conversations with your child has a dramatic effect on their own vocabulary. As you engage your child in conversation, he or she learns the art of communicating. Their vocabulary expands as they hear you use different words for the same thing (like “market” for “grocery store” or “joyful” for “happy”). They learn how to create sentences with a beginning, middle, and end, and they learn how to tell a story in the same way. They also learn how to use context clues to figure out what you are talking about when the subject is unfamiliar to them.
Not only will chatting with your child improve their reading skills, but it will also give the two of you some nice bonding time with each other…and that is always a good thing.
5. Sing songs together.
Did you know singing helps with language acquisition? It’s true! And it can also help with reading. Listening to and singing along with children’s songs introduces preschoolers to new words that often repeat…over…and over…and over again until they live rent-free in your head (does anyone remember Baby Shark?). That repetition and/or rhyme makes the words easier for children to learn, so play a variety of music throughout the day.
6. Play with rhyming words
Playing with rhyme is not only fun, but it also facilitates language learning. There is no shortage of children’s books that focus on rhyming words and encourage children to enjoy playing with language (we love Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months by Maurice Sendak and Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdny). Rhyming books also help children develop phonemic awareness—the understanding that individual sounds in words can be manipulated.
It’s important to remember that you are not tasked with teaching your child how to read. Your job is to model just how fun reading can be, so let your child see you enjoying a good book and talking about how much you love reading. And try to make the time you spend reading with your child or listening to music something that is enjoyable and that each of you looks forward to.
With your support, your child will be reading independently in no time!
Thanks for reading,
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