It is important that you send your child to school with a whole lot of pre-reading skills. Why? This will make him easy to teach, feel confident, transition to school better, enjoy learning and best of all, love school. If the child wants to go to school that is at least half the battle.
It not necessary that your child knows how to read when he enters school. In fact, he may be bored if he is too advanced in reading. It is best to give a child a good solid base in all areas and let the teacher refine the skills.
There are some pre-reading skills that are easy to teach and fun to play with for both you and your child. You can toss them into play time and use them as you tuck her in at night. It may surprise you how easy it is to do.
Direction (print awareness)
Written word goes from left to right in the English language. As adults, you rarely think about it, but children need to learn this. You can run your fingers under the words and let the child know when to turn the page. Eventually, the child should recognize the page is turned when the reading is done. If you have a left handed child sometimes it is harder for them.
Children are ready to read when they recognize and name letters. You can teach your child that each letter has a name. Give an example he can relate to. This is duck. What sound does the duck make? Letters make sounds too. It is not important that they know the sounds when entering school, but knowing the names of the letter both upper and lower case is very helpful to have in a successful reader.
Rhyming (phonetics awareness)
It is not just a fun thing that authors for children like to do. It is a big step in helping students prepare to read. They begin to see patterns and have a sense of phonetics. Do the words sound alike?
There are many great rhyming books. Here are a few suggestions that you can probably pick up at any library:
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont; Sheep in the Jeep by Nancy E. Shaw; Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.; Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae; Llama, Llama, Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney; and many of your favorite Dr. Seuss books.
This is very important and many parents do this without even realizing it. It is important to have conversations with toddlers. If they point at something, talk about it. If they want to sing, do it. Read with them, daily. Children need to be motivated to read. By the time they come to school it is a good idea if they want to “read it themselves”.
The books you choose to read can make a big difference. While repetition may drive adults crazy, children need it. It gives them a sense of mastery. They know that the little pig will say “not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin”. A savvy parent will stop and allow the child to “read” that part.
Pete the Cat, I love my white shoes by Eric Litwin is a book that children never tire of and often times parents can relate it to real life situations.
A quick review
Children are ready to learn to read when they pretend to read books, know the story cover to cover, listens to a new book, understand the pictures in the book correlate to real objects, and vocalizes rhymes. They need to want to read. They need to know the names of the letters. Send your child to school with these skills and there will be a reading aficionado in your future.