Home > School and Learning > By Subject > Reading and Language Arts > Learning to Read > Helping Children Learn About Reading
|

Helping Children Learn About Reading

print knowledge 85 Make Connections
Why read a book to an infant who does not yet know the meaning of a word -- or of words at all? Why sing to a toddler who cannot understand your song?

Both activities help children make connections between words and meaning. They also help to create a warm, safe environment for children and lead to a lifelong love of reading and learning.

Some parents assume that learning to read starts with memorizing the alphabet and sounding out words, but actually the fundamentals of reading begin much earlier. Adults lay the foundation for reading every day, when they point out objects and describe what they are doing while dressing an infant, grocery shopping with a toddler, or cooking with a preschooler.

The most important thing is that teaching children about reading becomes an activity that brings children closer to the caring adults in their lives. Here are some tips for families who want to help their children make connections between meaning and words.

Infants

  • Talk or sing to your baby when you change his diaper, give him a bath, feed him lunch, or join him in play.
  • Introduce cardboard or cloth books with brightly colored pictures. Be aware that at this point, your baby might enjoy looking at, tossing, or chewing the books more than being read to!
  • Help increase your baby's vocabulary by playing "What's that?" or "Where's the teddy bear?" when enjoying books together.
  • Point out words on signs at the park, at the zoo, or when walking or driving.
  • As children begin to notice letters on blocks or other toys, name the letters for them. Read words aloud and explain what they mean.

Toddlers

  • Reading stories before bed makes a good transition between active play and restful time. Toddlers may ask you to read their favorites repeatedly. They may begin to connect pictures with words, or fill in missing words if you hesitate.
  • Let toddlers "write" shopping lists with you. They may want to watch you sort coupons and engage in other grocery store activities.
  • Take short trips to new places and talk about what is happening around you. If possible, read together about similar events beforehand and again afterwards.
  • Give children magnetic letters for the refrigerator, and begin spelling out words and names as toddlers are introduced to them.

Preschoolers

  • Encourage preschool children to carry out the steps to written recipes, or read printed labels at the store.
  • At four or five, children may begin to ask questions about the print they see in books. Books with labeled pictures help children to connect words and objects more easily.
  • Play picture-card games with your child -- but remember, they may not always play by the rules at this age!
  • Provide a variety of materials to encourage children to "play" at writing and reading -- checks or traffic tickets, menus or greeting cards.

Primary-Grade Children

  • Continue to read with your child, especially at bedtime, even if she has already learned to read.
  • Visit the library on a regular basis to make books a regular part of children's lives. Show children that you read books and magazines for information and enjoyment.
  • Listen to the stories children write, as well as their jokes or riddles. Encourage them to write down their ideas.
  • Play word games such as Boggle or Scrabble with your child.

Copyright © 1997 National Association for the Education of Young Children
Source: National Parent Information Network

|


stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

mother’s day cards & crafts

Let your kids
spoil you with
homemade
goodies!

GO

highlights

Healthy Smile Checklist for Kids
Have better dental check-ups with this free printable checklist that helps keep your child flossing, brushing, and smiling! Brought to you by Philips Sonicare.

Kindergarten Readiness App
It's kindergarten registration time! Use this interactive kindergarten readiness checklist, complete with fun games and activities, to practice the essential skills your child needs for this next big step. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Top 10 Earth Day Books for Children
Celebrate the environment by reading some of these great children's books about Earth Day, recycling, planting trees, and all things green!

Prom Dress Trends for 2014
Check out 2014 prom dress trends inspired by celebrities’ red carpet looks, but with a price tag under $100!