[This is my fourth post on early literacy. Check out my other posts on how to get your child excited about reading, and info on developmental literacy and what types of books are best at each age, and how to read to a toddler.)
Other ways to help kids learn about reading and writing
- Make books together – make photo albums, or cut pictures out of magazines. For older kids, they can dictate a story – they tell it, you write it out, then they can illustrate the pages.
- Look at photo albums together and tell stories about the people and activities shown.
- Talk about symbols – you could make a calendar and come up with symbols to remind them of what happens each day. Or a weather chart. Or a chores chart.
- Practice writing, drawing, painting, writing with a stick in the sand or the mud. Make letters with play dough or pipe cleaners. Have them work with puzzles made of letter shapes. Play with alphabet refrigerator magnets. Look for apps for your touch screen device (tablet or phone) that let them practice tracing letters. Draw letters on paper and have your child trace them (see picture at bottom of the post for what this looks like when my 3.5 year old does it… )
- Act out stories that you have read, or do puppet shows. Tell the story as written, or imagine what would come next, or what other adventure characters could have.
- Sing songs and play rhyming games – these slow language down so it’s easier to understand, and are easy to memorize. Later, try memorizing a story and telling it over and over.
- When they ask you a question, show how you would look up the answer.
- Visit the library often. Make it a special time in your week’s schedule.
- Take them to story time at the library or bookstores. It’s typically free, weekly or monthly, and lasts 30 – 45 minutes. Expect to sit on the floor with your child and help him stay focused on the stories. This is great for literacy and language development – seeing other kids and parents excited about books, listening to the librarian’s voice (kids learn language better when they hear a variety of people speak it), and singing songs together. It’s also great practice for school – having to sit still and pay attention to an adult other than your own parent is important. Before going, let your child know what to expect, and what behavior you expect of her (sitting down, being quiet) to increase your chances of a good experience. Learn more here: http://www.peps.org/ParentResources/by-topic/early-learning/why-story-time-rocks