Your child’s love for reading can begin earlier than you think. While some children learn to read at 4 or 5 years, the majority will get the hang of it by age 6 or 7. But, this doesn’t mean you can’t start reading to your child any earlier. Actually, the younger, the better!
As well as preparing your baby’s brain for language and sentence formation, rest assured that getting your baby familiar with words and sounds, to the very practice of helping your child learn to read, doesn’t have to be a chore.
There are tonnes of fun that reading can bring to the whole family and aside from being a great bonding activity, the most important thing is that helping your child to learn to read is enjoyable and becomes part of your daily routine. Whether it’s a morning story or one before bed, young babies really enjoy the concept of stories, colours, letters and numbers through songs, flashcards, or simple picture books.
Whatever it is that you choose to do, here are 9 steps that you can use to help your child to learn to read from baby and beyond…
Before your child starts to read, encourage them to learn and discover clues from the pictures they see in their books. Point to the pictures on the page and simply ask your child what they see. This will be a great way to practice colours, numbers and animals with your child and give them the confidence to point out and recognise different things for themselves in time.
Use songs & nursery rhymes
Music will be a really fun and engaging way to promote rhyme and rhythm to help your child hear the syllables and sounds in words. Clapping and singing songs with your child is not only a great bonding activity for endless fun but will definitely help them to develop phonemic awareness.
Start with something your child is already familiar with, like their name. By learning letters which correspond to the familiar sound and context of their own name will be a great start to build confidence in your child. Get creative and encourage your child to make the letters. You could use playdough and repeat the sounds of the letters which make up your child’s name.
Make simple word cards
Flashcards are a really easy way to get your child thinking about the sound and spelling of different words. Start by writing one word which contains 3 sounds on each card. For example, cat, dog. Encourage your child to pick a card and keep practicing the sounds of these simple words.
You can’t learn to read without knowing the letter sounds and fortunately, there is a lot of fun household things to get your child thinking about the sounds of letters. blocks, magnet letters, ABC books, puzzles, charts, cards, floor mats, bedsheets to name a few – of course a pen and paper will do but most importantly make it fun!
Have them read you a story
Encourage your child to make up a story. It will be simple sentences (depending on their age) about their day or what they like doing but write it down and repeat reading it back, pointing to the letters in which make up a word as you do it. They will love reading and repeating something that they’ve made up all by themselves!
Don’t forget writing
Literacy is a combination of both reading and writing so while your child is learning to read ensure you encourage lots of writing too. Having lots of pencils, crayons and paper around the house will promote the importance of writing to your child.
Ask your child questions
When you are reading or writing with your child ask lots of questions. This will get your child thinking about the information they have just read in their letter or book. Reading is all about remembering different events and making your own judgement so this activity will help prepare your child for more difficult literacy tasks in the future at school.
Read on a daily basis
Making reading a part of your every day life has more benefits than a lot of people think. The simple of act sitting down with a story every day will get your child used to the sound of words as after all they will be hearing what a fluent reader sounds
like every day, which will improve their own ability. Most of all your child will form a love of reading setting them up for a lot of future literacy success!