PROMOTE LITERACY--WITHOUT READING
By Christie Andreassi
There’s SO much pressure to be everything to your child, especially in those first few years. But teaching your child to read can be stressful, especially if you don’t know where to start. So don’t teach them how to read, mix these five little activities into your everyday life and improve your child’s overall literacy. Reading will come, let their kindergarten teacher teach them to tap out sounds. It’s your job to build curiosity, excitement, and joy around reading so when their teacher says “You’re going to learn to read!” They feel HAPPY to become a member of the “Readers Club.”
Car Games: What better way to keep everyone happy in the car than to play a game together? This can be anything from categories, to rhyming, to thinking of things that start with the same first letter. Anything using sounds improves phonemic awareness, an essential skill for pre-reading. A game like categories may introduce new vocabulary, another great tool as little ones start to learn to read.
Letter Sound scavenger hunt: Think of a letter or pull one out of your magnetic alphabet set and go on a scavenger hunt for things that start with that letter. Be sure to use their hard sounds, and forgive the c, k mix up (for now). You want to reinforce the sounds the letters make, not necessarily what the letters look like (because that feels like reading).
Work on fine motor: Those little hands don’t need to be writing yet! But, they do need to build the muscle and dexterity to hold a pencil someday. Fine motor games can be fancily bought on amazon like these ones: Dinosaur Spikes, Bunny Pop, or Grip Slime
Or made at home like: putting coins in a piggy bank, homemade playdough, peeling and placing stickers, or even just coloring.
Making up stories together: This one is fun because they can be as silly as they want to be? In my house we’re talking about silly monkeys in underwear with stinky feet. This is a great time to introduce the concepts or transition words and beginning, middle and end. You can take turns telling the next part of the story or retell what their story adding those words in. “So first the monkey put on his underwear? What happened next?… And then what did he do after that?” This is fun for bedtime or during pretend play. My son loves pretending he owns a cookie store so we use a lot of how-to language during those times as well.
Just do life– and be PRESENT: in the education world we call this building schema, which means previous knowledge or experiences with different topics. But as a parent, you’re just building memories. Put the phone down and TALK about what is going on around you. You can start with things like “I notice…” or “I wonder…” and soon enough your child will start mimicking those back to you. You’ll see their little brain wheels turning with every new experience. Sure, this can be lavish things like new vacations, aquarium visits, or museums, but schema is built with EVERYTHING including baking, taking a walk, washing the dog, or even watching a tv show or movie together.