Ready, set, read baby!
Updated: Feb 6, 2019
We often hear about reading to your babies, and constantly talking to our kids. But if we can understand why this is so important, it helps to motivate you to persist when your baby is more interested in ripping the pages, or when your child wants to read the same book for the 27th time this week.
It's all about building Pre-Literacy skills. That is, the skills that children need before they can learn to read and write. These are skills that your child's Prep teacher will assume they have!
There's a few skills involved, so it's no wonder children start learning these skills when they are babies. So what are these skills? Firstly, let's be clear on what they're not. We're not talking about flash cards or practicing "A says a..a...a".
Daily opportunities and conversations are far more effective (and enjoyable!) than flash cards.
Early Pre-Literacy skills include:
Knowing which way to hold a book, and turning pages from the right
Knowing that we read from left to right and top to bottom
Being able to find where the words are on a page (compared to the pictures)
Understanding the ‘end’ of a book when the back cover closes (cue: "Again!" says the child)
Being aware that reading and writing is a way of representing words and sounds, and that they carry meaning and messages just like talking
Later Pre-Literacy skills include:
Being aware of first and last sounds in words
Knowing that sentences are made up of individual words
Identifying syllables, and blending syllables (e.g. butter = bu… tter)
Being aware that words are made up of several smaller sounds, which we can put together (e.g. m…oo…n = moon) and take apart (e.g. cat = c… a… t)
It sounds like a lot, but luckily, most early childhood activities are built to stimulate these skills, such as nursery rhymes and children's books. The single best thing you can do is shared book reading, and lots of books.
Here are some ideas for every day opportunities where you can foster early literacy skills
First two years:
Reading books together (and another one, and another one)
Pointing to words and pictures as you say them
Singing nursery rhymes and songs (Tip: these are usually while doing something else! We do lots of made up songs that rhyme during nappy/ clothes changes and play).
Tapping along to the beat of music
Playing with instruments
Two years and beyond:
Blending sounds or syllables together for them to guess your word (e.g. I can see a c….ar. What is it?)
Point out words that rhyme (You have a blue shoe. Blue.. shoe.. They sound a bit the same!)
Read books and point to the words as you say them
Tapping the beats (syllables) in words, especially longer ones (hel-i-cop-ter). This also helps kids to learn how to say these complicated, longer words.
Playing ‘I spy’ with sounds and rhyme (e.g. “I spy something starting with ‘p’” OR “I spy a p-i-g” requiring the child to blend the sounds together, OR “I spy something that sounds like blue (shoe))
Talking about the sounds that words begin or end with. Use names, favourites toys or characters- things that your child is interested in!
Break short words up into their 'sounds' (e.g. while cutting some cheese you can say: "Cheese. Ch-ee-z. Cheese) and blending them together (e.g. ‘f-ar-m’ is ‘farm’)
Identifying words that rhyme and see if your child can think of more rhyming words (e.g. “I found your blue shoe! Blue.. shoe.. They rhyme because they sound the same at the end! Can you think of another word that rhymes with ‘blue’ and ‘shoe’?”)
The better we can consolidate these skills before going to school, the better your child's literacy success will be. Literacy then becomes the key to all future learning for the rest of their schooling (and beyond!) years.
If you have concerns about your child's literacy skills, contact us to find out how we can help your child further.