Many parents have dreams of teaching their preschoolers to read, but most very young children aren't developmentally ready to read independently. Developmentally appropriate literacy activities, however, can prepare children for kindergarten and elementary school by encouraging them to love reading and learning and giving them the basic background they need to begin understanding how letters and language work. The book "Literacy Beginnings" emphasizes that young children learn best through play, so it's wise to get rid of the flashcards and workbooks and focus on making literacy fun.
Daily reading is the single most effective strategy for teaching preschoolers to read and encouraging a lifelong love of reading, according to the book "Early Literacy in Preschool and Kindergarten." Spend time reading to your child every day, and encourage her to pick books she likes. Take frequent trips to the library, and attend reading-oriented events such as book fairs and readings by book characters. Encourage your child to tell you about the pictures she sees in books. This helps her develop an association between the words and the pictures. If she has a book she wants to read over and over, try "fill in the blank" reading. Track the words with your fingers, then have your child fill in words she knows well as you read. Point to the word when she says it.
Basic letter recognition is key for helping children learn to read. Teach your child the alphabet song, then begin working on individual letters. Try periodically sounding out words by emphasizing the first letter and pointing to the letter as you read it. As your child begins to grasp the basics of letters, try letter-oriented craft projects. Cut out numbers and then decorate each of them, and then help your child spell her name and her favorite words using the letter cutouts.
As your child masters the basics of letter recognition, you can progress to teaching her writing skills. Show her how to write her name, and make it fun by giving her paints, glitter and stickers and encouraging her to decorate her creation. Write her short, easy-to-read notes of two to three words, then help her sound out the words. As she learns to write letters, help her write notes to other people by spelling the words for her, then helping her sound out each individual letter.
When children can't understand what they're reading or what is read to them, they're more likely to lose interest in reading. Help your child master basic reading comprehension by talking about stories you've read. Encourage her to write her own "books" by drawing pictures of a story and then helping her fill in the words. Ask her about her favorite book characters and what she thinks they'd do in a particular situation.
- Early Literacy in Preschool and Kindergarten; Janice J. Beaty et al.
- Lancaster Libraries: Preschool Literacy Activities
- Literacy Beginnings; Gay Su Pinnell et al.
- Florida Department of Education: The Creative Curriculum for Preschool
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images