One of my friends wanted her child to learn to read when he was 3 years old. I didn’t think it was a good idea, but I can certainly understand why she would want her son to read early.
I’d rather observe my children and watch out for signs that they’re ready to acquire the skills needed for reading.
You can encourage early literacy while respecting your child’s developmental level and not being pushy.
While early literacy may not mean early reading, it does mean children are introduced to reading and its concepts at an early age. This familiarity will foster a love of reading and motivate your child to learn to read.
Here are five strategies for encouraging early literacy:
1. It’s Never Too Early to Start Reading
…for an adult, that is. Your child is never too young for you to read to him or her. Even newborns can benefit greatly from being read to, sources say. This very early reading is not about teaching or learning anything specific; it’s just a low-key, fun time to read aloud to your infant. Keep up the habit. Reading to your child is the number one thing you can do to encourage early literacy.
2. Rhyming Games
Foster a love of words and language by making up rhymes and playing rhyming games. Kids often find rhymes really funny. Keep it light-hearted and fun.
3. Choose Books and Subjects They Like
While we all have to read things we don’t really love and enjoy, forcing that sort of thing at the beginning can hamper a child’s interest. Remember, this is to encourage literacy; there will be plenty of time in the future to read things that they don’t particularly enjoy!
To foster an interest in literacy, choose books, magazines, online articles, and so forth that tap into your child’s personal interests. Observe what your child likes to do – cooking, constructing buildings, spending time outside, water play, etc. – and pick up books and magazines about those subjects. Then read them together!
This one is so obvious you may not have thought about it! Keep appropriate books on a low level so crawling infants can explore them. Children can develop a life-long love of a character, genre, or topic just from “poking around” in the available books.
5. Use Books to Help with Transitions
For young children, transitioning from one activity to another can be challenging. A book can help. If you need to go cook dinner, for instance, read a story about cooking before heading to the kitchen. Before bath time, read a fun story about a child or baby taking a bath. Young children may also begin to learn that books hold relevance to everyday life.
A love of literacy, language, and reading is a gift you can give your children. It’s never too early to get started!
PS: If you do want to teach your child to read, this is the book I used to teach all three of my children (when it was clear to me they were ready):
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