Have you ever wondered what you can be doing now to prepare your toddler to succeed in school? Parents want their children to go off to school with the skills they need to do well in a classroom. Although most children do not begin reading until they are school-age, children who show up at school with preliteracy skills already in place will usually be more successful and will come to view school as an enjoyable experience. The good news is that parents and other primary caregivers can engage in a few simple activities to ensure that every child is “Ready to Read.”
Conversations help a child express thoughts, learn what words mean, and gain new information about the world. Listen to what your child says, answer questions, add new information, and listen some more! It is the give-and-take of conversation that helps kids make sense of the words they hear. Talk in the car, during meal times, during a bath, at the store, and everywhere.
Singing helps kids hear the distinct sounds that words make. Songs teach new vocabulary and moving to music helps develop motor skills. You don’t have to be a good singer – just be enthusiastic! Creating simple musical instruments from things in your home makes it even more fun.
Read with your child every day! Create a special place for shared reading and favorite books. After you read together, show your child that reading is important for letting them see you read.
Children learn to express themselves by playing. You don’t need expensive toys; in fact simpler is better! Provide old clothes for playing dress-up, use old boxes or food containers as blocks or drape a sheet over two chairs to create a puppet stage for sock puppets. Encourage creativity by asking your child to make up stories by imagining to be someone else. Play comes naturally to young children and is one of the primary ways they learn.
Writing activities help children understand that written words represent ideas, things and events. Set up a writing space with paper, crayons and pencils. Show examples of your writing in thank-you notes, recipes, or notes. Writing takes strong hand muscles, and playing with clay or play-doh is a fun way to strengthen little hands.
Try to work these five activities into the normal flow of interacting with your child and they will begin school “Ready to Read”. For more information, stop by the Aurora Public Library to talk to me – I’d be happy to help get you started on these important practices. I also use these concepts in our weekly Storytimes, so that’s a great time to stop in!