Who says your child has to wait until first grade to learn how to read? If your kiddo is interested enough, has access to plenty of books and reading materials, and you encourage a love of literature from the earliest age possible, don’t be surprised if your child is reading to you by the time they start elementary school. Here are some ways to help you foster a lifelong love of the written word in your child:
1. Lead by example.
If you haven’t picked up a book since that required copy of Catcher in the Rye in twelfth grade, don’t feel bad. Tons of people come out of school thanking our lucky stars that we don’t have to read anymore. But your preschooler learns by example, and the best way to pique their curiosity about reading is to let them see mom or dad enjoying a book or a magazine. Your reading material doesn’t need to be highbrow, either. Romance, sci-fi, horror, humor, or this month’s edition of Newsweek – renew your own interest in reading, and you’ll spark theirs.
2. Show your preschooler the fun side of reading!
It’s important to expose your kid to serious and thought-provoking children’s literature… but not in preschool. Books like Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, and Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, will leave your kid in stitches and teach them that books aren’t all all ABC’s and punctuation – they can provide silly entertainment, too! Plus, reading aloud is crucial to the development of your child’s language skills. The giggles are just a bonus.
3. Take a field trip to the library.
If you don’t have a library card, it’s time to remedy that oversight. Take your preschooler on a trip to the library and get a family library card. Introduce your child to the librarian, ask her for book recommendations, and take a browse around the kid’s section. Find out if your library offers story hour or other kids’ programs (most are free) and sign your child up for a session.
4. Introduce Your Child to Letters
Before anyone learns to read, they need to know the basics: the ABC’s. But instead of just teaching your child the alphabet song, help him learn that letters aren’t just sounds – they’re building blocks that assemble into words. You can do this by focusing on each letter, one at a time, in fun and engaging ways. For example, show him the letter A. Go through your house and find items that begin with the letter, make up funny poems about it, and glue beans to a piece of paper in the shape of an A.
5. Read together. A lot.
This one seems self-explanatory, but the very best way to teach your preschooler to read is to read to them every single day. Be sure to read with lots expression (goofy voices for each character are always a big hit), and if you’re reading a book with few words on each page, point to each word as you read so that your child can follow along. Whether you choose to end the day reading about Lilly, the adorable mouse, at bedtime or start your mornings with the likes of Maurice Sendak and Patricia Polocco, you’ll enjoy your time spent together and give your preschooler an advantage when it comes time for them to read by themselves.
Reading is a great way to spend time with your child, and developing their reading skills at a young age will pay off in big ways all throughout their lives. So pull up a comfy chair, grab a silly picture book, and get your preschooler ready to read!