Encourage your child to read!
As a home-schooling mom I developed some great strategies for helping my children learn to read when they were very small.
Strategy 1- START EARLY!
-Those plastic chewy, squeaky books are a great way to get you baby used to books, before he or she can even sit up or walk. Let baby chew on and squeak the books, open the pages, and show your little one what’s inside.
-Board books are great for toddlers. Big, bright colored pictures encourage your child to look at the books, turn the pages, and identify familiar items such as doggy, kitty, wagon and block.
-Pop-up books and books with lots of fun things inside, tabs to pull, buttons to press, things to feel, and hear and see are great for early readers, from 4-6 years old.
Strategy 2- READING AS A RITUAL
-Bedtime stories are great, but how about middle of the day stories, cuddle time stories, and just for fun time stories? Read together every day. Young children like rhyming books and books with bright pictures. Your child may have a “favorite story.” If so, read it together a lot!
-Reading should be fun for you and your child. Cuddle together, when you read. Use an animated voice and put lots of energy into your story-telling. Kids will love it.
-Have little “extras,” things that go along with your stories. If you are reading about the “Bear Who Loved Honey” have some honey grahams handy, and every time a certain word is read in the story, (“yum” or “honey” for instance) give the kids (and you too) a honey graham!
-Make crafts that go along with your stories. Draw pictures, make paper-bag puppets (let kids act out the parts too) make posters or collages from magazine scraps, play dress up, etc…
Strategy 3- READING IS MORE THAN BOOKS
-Learning letter recognition and phonics skills is an important first step to reading. Have letter days, like an “H” day, have hamburgers and hot dogs, play hop-scotch, do the hand jive. Cut-out different sizes and shapes of the letter H and hang around the house, as you would party decorations. Do this with all of the letters of the alphabet. Add new letters all the time, but also review the previous ones.
-Hang up signs, with words like stop, go, fast, slow, walk, run, dance, skip etc., through your house. Challenge kids to follow the signs.
-Make a beginning readers scavenger hunt. Be sure to use simple words your child can sound out on his/her own. Hat, book, dish, fork, etc., are words that early readers can handle well.
When children are young they are eager to learn. Foster the idea that learning is fun, and children will continue in that sense of adventure and excitement. When you have their interest, and their young minds are alert, new skills are learned in a care-free, easy manner.