Preschool Reading

How to help kids have a love for literature.

Preschool reading does not begin at preschool age. Teaching children to read begins as soon as a child opens his little eyes. Don't believe it? Read on to understand the philosophy of early literacy. How do parents help kids have a love for literature ? Here are some tips for preschool parents on reading.

Read, read, read, and read

Most people would think of a good well developed and tested Kindergarten reading program to introduce into the preschool reading system. While this may be great, I feel the most well tested and priceless method is to encourage moms and dads to spend hours with their toddlers on their laps reading a variety of literature and kid's stories: from fiction to non-fictions. Personally, I would cut back on fantasies and read more life stories.

Child psychologists will attest to the fact that toddlers who have been regularly read to would naturally develop a love for literature thereby enhances early literacy. With the love and passion for books, these kids usually excel in their reading, language arts and expressions, which in turn snowball into a greater confidence in life.

Therefore, it is a conscientious effort on the part of parents and caregivers to intentionally set aside time to read with their children. This itself is a motivation and a prelude to hours of self reading. And once motivated, who can stop a child from exploring the world of books. Won’t you like your kids to be hooked onto reading than be hooked onto the monitor or TV screens ?

Have books and literature available and easily accessible

If a child adopts an intrinsic motivation to pick up any books to read, you’ve made it.

Here's a little peek into my style of teaching children to read. What I did was to have a whole library available - from baby picture mini books to toddler large prints to favorite preschool books to phonics practice readers. By 2 years old, my son had his first set of WorldBook encyclodpedia, which included a set of Childcraft – a children encyclopedia, and a Young Scientist set. All these encompasses general information from preschool to adulthood, presented in a progressive and comprehensive way. At 2 yrs old, my son had outgrown picture charts and books and was ready for real books with real illustrations. No more Little Red Riding Hood and Pinocchio.

The 22 volume Worldbook encyclodpedia became his favorite set of books above all other child centered colorful books. At 3 yrs old, he prides himself with the knowledge that a whale is not a fish but a mammal. He knew the parts of a car including the engines and shafts. He would tell my friends that a baby kangaroo, called a joey, lives in the mother’s pouch and that a Koala is not a bear. When he was 3 and a half yrs old, while we were signing him up for preschool, he convinced the principal that the little dinky car was not a car, but a Mobil truck. He would use words like “enormous” instead of big, “vibrates” instead of “tickle”; sparrow instead of bird, “Lexus” instead of car. “Thank you for your compliment” instead of Thanks.

Read books with words and not just pictures

Preschool reading is not about picture books and big colorful illustrations.

How often I’ve seen a very little child holding a book, pointing to the words and babbles away, pretending to read – even though they are holding the book upside down. Have you seen that ?

I would read stories to my newborn son as soon as his eyes opened. At 8 mths old when he started crawling, he would crawl to the wall where I had a wall chart of animals and touch the cheetah or iguana, as if to tell me that he knows what I was reading about, or he would crawl away to his toy box to pick up a toy related to the story.

One of the Kindergarten Reading Program I used was from Glenn Doman : How to Teach your Baby to Read and I started teaching him by using flashcards even before he began crawling. Haha, I had a captive audience. Through that well attested program, my son was able to recognize significant number of words and was able to identify them by pointing to the respective objects even before he could speak.

Don't limit your preschool reading to only kid's stories

Use elementary books, encyclopedia, newspapers, magazines, brochures, recipes, mails....etc practically anything with words.Point to the words and read aloud. Just observe how your preschool kids would follow your fingers as you read.

Pretty soon, you'll see them imitating you. As they do so, they are capturing the size and formation of the letters and words in their absorbent mind. With continuity and persistence, the kids would catch the joy of reading.

Increase your child’s vocabulary and listening skill

Preschool reading skills involves understanding and appreciation of the stories. Before a child is motivated to read, he must first be exposed to the beauty of language arts and appreciate the wealth of spoken words and vocabulary. Kids love to learn new words and they learn it effortlessly and enjoy applying them as soon as they learnt it.

Haven’t you seen kids who delight in using big words – even in the wrong places ? Yes, they are in the process of learning and applying it. Somehow, they will right themselves by observing the responses of the adults. Unfortunately, some adults unconsciously teach new words incorrectly by using slang and colloquialism; worst of all, coarse words, thinking they are so cute.

Many parents casually “baby talk” to toddlers and babies. “Baby talk” refers to language without a proper form or grammatical structure, often includes slang and words not found in the dictionary. Eg. “Wanna pee / wee?” instead of “Do you want to go to the toilet / washroom?” Babies and toddlers need to hear adult speak in a full sentence, clear and concise – short but complete.

Provide preschool reading activities.

New words are all over and around the environment for preschool reading.

There are so many new vocabulary a child can learn everyday around the house, school, mall or on the street. Be intentional about teaching some of the objects that the child associates with. Name them and use them in different ways. One of the best word games is “I spy” No kids should be spared of this game. “I spy with my little eyes …a fan…. Where is the fan? Hmm…” When the child is older, you can add colors, shapes and numbers to your spying word game.

The more vocabulary the child has in his brain, the easier and more likely it is for him to begin preschool reading and appreciate the variety of children's literature. The thirst for knowledge is innate and with a little jumpstart, children will take off into their world of learning.

So get started with preschool reading. Time waits for no man. Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

See Also

How to teach using 3 Period Lesson

The Montessori Method of teaching language

Phonics Lesson Plans

Phonics Chart

How to tell a story so your kids would enjoy

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