Building your child's literary skills goes beyond simply reading books. And it's never too early to start! You can begin to create a young reader child by taking part in these five activities with your young child. These various ways of learning and play help build a child's cognitive abilities and curiosity, both important in gaining a foundation to eventually become a reader and succeed in school.
Young children naturally learn how to express themselves and how the world works by playing. It requires only a small space, simple props, and some imagination and encouragement. You don’t need expensive or special toys. Just make available props like large boxes, old clothes or costumes for dress up, plastic food containers, paper shopping bags, and empty toilet paper rolls. Make sock puppets and make up stories using the puppets. Create a blanket fort using a sheet draped over two chairs and act out a favorite story.
Children learn language by listening to their parents and others talk and joining in the conversation. As children listen, they learn new words and what they mean. The first step in being able to read the word “dog” is hearing it as a baby... again and again and again. If you speak two languages in the home, it is beneficial to speak both languages to your child. Very young children can understand spoken words before they can speak them.
Songs are fantastic ways to learn about language. They develop listening skills and slow down language so children can hear the different sounds that make up words. Clapping along with the beat helps improve motor skills and helps children learn the sounds in words. Songs also teach new words and introduce new ideas and concepts. Sing with your children any chance you have: at home, in the car, or during a walk. It also develops listening and memory skills.
Reading books together is the single best way to help children develop early literacy skills. Read together every day and talk about the books you read. Children who are read to are more likely to want to learn to read themselves.
Create a special space for your children to look at books. Have a comfortable chair or pillows and a small shelf or basket for favorite books. Encourage your child to pretend to read a book to a favorite stuffed animal. On your next visit to the library look for books related to your child’s interests. Keep books in the car, the kitchen and even the bathroom.
Show your child that reading is important by letting him or her see you enjoying reading.
Reading and writing go hand in hand. Writing activities help children learn letter names and sound out new words. Writing also helps children understand that written words represent ideas, places, things and events. Scribbling and drawing are forms of writing and it helps develop eye-hand coordination.
Provide pencils, crayons and paper on a table so your child can write whenever they want. Have them make a shopping list or write a story.