Turning your child into a reader may start sooner than most parents realize. In fact, it’s never too soon to expose your children to the joy and benefits of reading.
Part of the way you can do that is with “6 x 6”, a parent-friendly early literacy program that emphasizes the six skills that can help children develop, before they learn to read, which happens for most children around age six.
1. Have Fun with Books. If children associate reading with negative feelings, their motivation to read is diminished. So find the right time when you and your children are in the mood and enjoy reading together.
Have books with you on the go, like to a doctor’s office, and make waiting time a fun bonding time for you and your child over a book.
Take them to the library and let them have fun picking out their own books to check out.
2. Notice Print All Around You. Being aware that print is all around you doesn’t just happen. Children need help in understanding that print is used in multiple ways for a variety of purposes. This is known as “Print awareness.”
Let your child help you make a shopping list. Match the words on your list to those on the products.
Point out road and business signs as you’re out and about.
3. Talk, Talk, Talk. Even when they are too young to form their own words, talk to your children frequently. The more words children hear, the larger their vocabulary becomes.
Instead of trying to find the easy or familiar words to describe something, introduce new words and explain their meanings.
Listen to your baby babble. When he stops, respond. This teaches them the give and take of conversation.
4. Tell Stories About Everything. The more you read with your child, the more they will become familiar with the sequence of a story, be able to tell their own stories, and retell familiar stories.
Plan your day by talking about what you’ll do first, next and last.
While reading with your child, pause to ask “when, where, what, why, and how” questions, such as “What do you think will happen next?”
5. Look for Letters Everywhere. It’s important for children to see that each letter is unique, and that most uppercase letters look different than their corresponding lower case version.
Choose a “letter of the day” and listen for words that begin with that sound and do something fun like clap your hands when you hear that sound.
A precursor to learning letters is learning shapes and colors. Point these things out while you interact with your child.
6. Take Time to Rhyme, Sing, and Play Word Games. Recognizing when words rhyme and hearing the beginning sounds of words are part of the literacy skill called “phonological awareness.”