When I began kindergarten, being able to read and write was not expected. Sure, we knew our numbers, and we knew our letters, but reading and writing were taught in kindergarten. There were certainly some pre-schools, but they were not the norm. Things have changed a lot in the last 30 years! Now, kids are expected to at least do some reading before coming to kindergarten, and they are expected to at least write some of the letters. The fact is, most students in kindergarten have a pretty good grasp of the materials that we would have learned in first grade. As I consider my own son, I can see that he has developed far more quickly than I did at his age.
So, what are the tricks to making sure our kids “keep up” with society? How do we ensure that they are on par with their peers when it comes to reading and writing? Here are a few suggestions as to how to teach young children to read and write.
Encourage reading from a very young age. My wife and I have read to our children from the time they were born. I know that they really don’t understand much of a story when they are only a couple of moths old, but they can start to look at the different colors and shapes. It will not be long until they are learning those shapes and colors, and that is the beginning of reading. They are paying attention to what is in the book, and they are learning to enjoy the experience of reading. If you make this a regular practice, your children will enjoy the time they spend sitting on your lap, and listening to stories.
Visit the Library. Most libraries have a “story time” for pre-school aged children. A good library director will make this a fun filled time for kids. Kids will enjoy getting to spend time with other children their own age, and they will also enjoy listening to the stories themselves. The library close to our home has done a very good job of running this type of program. For example, just recently, they read from Alice in Wonderland, and then had a tea party for all of the children. The party was a dress up affair, where the children could dress like the characters from the book (or just dress up in a costume if they preferred). This was a great success, and the kids were thrilled to be able to participate. This type of activity makes the stories come alive for the kids.
Use Educational Materials. There are a great many number of teaching aids available today to help parents teach children to read and write. We have used the Hooked on Phonics system with our four year old son, and have had great success. He has finished the whole first kit, and is very proud of his progress. These kits provide all the materials that are necessary for reading and writing. They also have rewards for the child to ensure he is motivated to continue working through the system.
Practice. To become proficient at anything, children will have to practice. But the challenge of the parent is to not make it look, or feel, like just mundane practice. It has to be fun, or a young child will quickly lose interest, and will refuse to continue participating. There are many activity books and games that have an educational undertone that will help children practice these tasks. During this time, it is important to not push your child too hard. Despite what many parents believe, geniuses are not formed by forcing four year olds to do hours of homework. If you make this work fun for your child, they will want to do more, and will actually learn at a faster pace!
Use technology. Children today are blessed with some great technological advantages. They can fire up the computer and load up fun websites that will help them learn while playing games. They will be learning different words and how to spell them without even knowing that is what they are doing. They will play a game and when they are done, they will have learned more words than when they started. There are hundreds of educational websites that even young children can visit and use to help them learn to read and write. There are also many computer games that can serve the same purpose.
Children learn materials faster and earlier than ever before. Children that show up at kindergarten unable to read anything, and unable to write will be behind their peers. Following these tips will help your child stay current with their peers.