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Reading Resources for a Preschooler

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Mary Ruth Coleman, Ph.D.

Q: My son is now three years old and he started showing a great amount of interest in reading just before his third birthday. I am really at a standstill. I have tried to show him the sounds of the letters and to help him understand how to pronounce them, but it just doesn't feel right. Do you have any suggestions on how to teach a child to read?

A: The best thing to do for young children who want to "read" is to read, read, read to them. As you read together, let him sit close or in your lap. Use your finger to underline the words you are saying. Read books that have repeat words and rhymes, and let your son "read" the parts that repeat. Get him books on tape to listen to while he reads, and let him "read" his favorite story to you. These ideas allow his natural language to take over without the pressure of "teaching" reading.

You can also play word games, like recognizing store and street signs as you drive by them. Get a set of magnetic letters and write messages on the fridge. Sing the alphabet song as you put the letters in order. Write his name with the letters or a food word, like "cookie." He could even write "yes" or "no." Try labeling things around the house with word cards: "chair," "table," "sofa." You can add words like "red," "big," "little," or, "my" as his sight vocabulary grows. The point is have fun, keep it light, and follow his lead. If he tires of the game, stop. Good luck. -- Mary Ruth Coleman, Ph.D.

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Mary Ruth Coleman is the director of Project U-STARS (Using Science Talent and Abilities to Recognize Students) at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Coleman has taught in both general and gifted educational programs in both public and private schools.

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