Ready for Reading© Copyright BabyClassroom
Few things determine a child's success in school and in life as profoundly as his ability to read. And while mastering the mechanics of reading is important, a genuine love of reading is what turns an inquisitive child into a lifelong learner.
Before a child can learn to decipher letters, words and sentences, the building blocks of language and literacy must be in place. As parents, we can help our little ones develop those building blocks, along with a love of books and reading, from birth.
Not only do activities like the ones below encourage future readers to explore and discover the wonders of language and literature, they provide opportunities to bond with our babies through the shared joy of stories, songs and books.
- Talk, Sing, and Play With Language: Simply talking with your child is one of the most important things you can do to encourage healthy language development. Listen to what your child says (or tries to say) and respond appropriately. Share songs, poems, and silly rhymes to teach your child how sounds combine to form words and to show how much fun language can be!
- Encourage Pretend Play: When children engage in pretend play imagining a box is a hat or a drumstick a microphone, for example, they begin to understand symbolism. Later, that translates into an understanding that letters and words are symbols for objects in the real world. Acting out stories with puppets, costumes, or dolls is a great way to explore language and storytelling with children.
- Get Out and See The World: For a child to understand words on paper, he needs to have experience with the objects and activities the words represent. When you take your child to the zoo, for example, he sees a tiger. Later, when he hears a story about a tiger or sees the word tiger, he has a real-world reference to connect with it. New experiences help build vocabulary, too.
- Share Books Every Day: When you read to your little one, you teach her that the words and pictures in books tell stories. You show her how to turn the pages and that stories have a structure. These are all essential concepts in literacy. Incorporate books into your bedtime and naptime routines and take them along to pass the time on errands and in restaurants. The more positive experiences your child has with books and reading when she's young, the more likely she'll be to enjoy reading later in life.
- One More Time, With Feeling: Engage your child in books by reading enthusiastically. Don't be shy! Put some drama into your reading or add silly voices. Your tone and inflection will help your child understand the meaning of the words, too.
- Indulge in Favorites Again and Again: à and again! Young children delight in hearing their favorite stories over and over. Knowing what to expect gives them a sense of control and they often enjoy "reading" along with a book they've memorized.
- Relate Books to Life: Books are a great way to help children overcome fears and make smooth transitions. Look for age-appropriate books to help your child make sense of major events like moving to a new house, welcoming a new sibling, learning to use the potty, or understanding death or divorce.
- Ask Questions: Talk with your child about what you've read or what you're reading. With older children, pause during a story to ask what they think might happen next, or why they think a character acts the way he does. See if your child can relate something in the story to something he has done or seen in real life.
- Introduce the Alphabet: According to the National Education Association (NEA), "Recognizing alphabet letters is one of the single strongest predictors of reading success for young children entering school." Don't push young children to learn their letters with rote drills; instead, make it fun. Teach them alphabet songs and encourage them to play with alphabet blocks. Teach them the letters in their own names. Find letters on signs as you drive, and play games like "I Spy," where one person "spies" something that begins with a certain letter and other players guess what that object is.
- Create a Reading-friendly Home: Surround children with reading materials including picture books you read to them and board books they can play with and "read" by themselves. Get them a subscription to an age-appropriate magazine: It's so exciting for a child to get mail! And don't forget to be a model reader. Let your children see you read books, magazines and newspapers. Nothing sends the message that reading is valuable and enjoyable more than caregivers who read.
- Explore Writing Along with Reading: Show children how you use writing every day. Toddlers and preschoolers love to write their own names, make shopping and to-do lists, and send cards and letters to family and friends. Have them dictate stories for you to write, then read them together during story time.
According to an NEA survey published in 2004, "Literary reading is in dramatic decline with fewer than half of American adults now reading literature." Making time to read together and surrounding your little ones with reading materials shows children that reading is important and enjoyable and fosters a lifelong love of reading. And when you snuggle up together with a good book, you not only nurture a future reader, you strengthen the precious bonds that connect you with your child.
At Baby Classroom, we love books and we want to help every baby become a lifelong reader! Whether they're chewing on a bath book, turning the pages of a board book (even if it's upside down!), or reading along as you share a favorite nursery rhyme, every positive experience your little one has with books is another brick in her strong foundation of literacy.
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