I am a bilingual elementary school teacher….and I love it! My favorite part of the job is teaching young students how to read and helping older students unlock the secrets of literature. Something that every good teacher knows (and that research has proven!) is that early exposure to the written word is critical for students’ later reading development.
Besides being a teacher, I am also a parent to a beautiful two year old. These are the 4 simple steps I’m taking now to make sure that he is set up perfectly to learn to read in Kindergarten (or even before).
- Concepts About Print – If you haven’t been through a teacher preparation program this may be a new term. What it means is that I am acquainting my child with the “anatomy” of a book. That means he knows where the title is written, where the author’s name is written, where the title page is, and where the back and front of the book are located. That way, when he gets to kindergarten, he will be able to pick up a book, throw it open to the front page, and start reading. In addition to this, I am teaching my child that we start at the top of the page and read down and that we read left to right. This is SUPER important.
- Read All The Time – This advice is widely circulated and parents need to take heed! Unfortunately, there are some students who get to kindergarten never having been read a book. These students are placed at a disadvantage when it comes to learning to read. I read to my child all the time. A few books in the morning, a few books before bed, some in the afternoon. I average about 10 books a day. This may seem like a lot, but remember, he’s only two, his attention span is not that long. Each book I read lasts about 3-5 minutes and often times, we read the same book more than once. This is also very important because, even now, he is starting to memorize the text. Every time I open a book he knows very well, and we get to certain pages, he will recite the words for me. Obviously he’s not reading, but he understands that there is something about that particular page that means you say certain things. Even if he hasn’t connected the dots as far as the written words on the page and what we say out loud, he is starting to understand the relationship between books and their content.
- Creating A Print Rich Environment – Here’s another term parents may not be familiar with if they don’t have a degree in education. Really, it’s simple, label everything. I have index cards where I write the names of common household objects and furniture. When my child notices these labels, I point to the word, read it, and then point to whatever it names. This gets him to notice words and to start making the connection about what is written and what is read.
- Be A Reader – I love to read, I understand that there are many people out there who don’t, but if you show your child the importance of reading (both for enjoyment and as a necessity) then they will be less resistant to it. They will want to be like you (at least while they’re young). When my son is enjoying playing by himself for a while, I grab out a book or magazine. If he gets interested in what I’m doing, I show him the words and I read my book out loud to him.
Hopefully these tips will help you jump start your child’s literary career!