Ensuring Children are Reading Ready

By sheilam |

Parents usually want to support their child(ren)’s learning and most parents are particularly keen to ensure their child(ren) become fluent, independent readers. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts any difficulties with reading will usually give rise to other problems as reading is fundamental to accessing other parts of the curriculum.

Often children won’t start formal reading instruction until they begin school when hopefully they will be taught using one of the recommended synthetic phonics programmes but in the years before they go to school there is a lot that can be done to make sure they are ready for reading.

Familiarity with the culture of books

Babies love the sound of a human voice and it is natural for a most parents to talk to or sing to babies and the next step is usually to have a book – a fabric or board book to start with – and share a story. Just talking about the pictures is a good start. As they grow make sure stories and books become part of each day – not just at bedtime. Ensure there is a good range of books of different types and encourage them to pick them up, you will probably notice that they copy what they have seen you do turning pages and talking. What they say may or may not be related to the book but they are still learning about the culture of books, and gradually they will learn that we read from left to right and top bottom – unlike some other languages.

Seeing Reading as something of value

It is good to just let toddlers investigate books themselves but it is also good sometimes to join in when you see them with a book – it’s a great way of showing that you think books and reading are important. It’s also a good message if they see you reading for yourself and often they will try and get involved and while they may not  be learning to read they will be learning that reading is something that you value which is an important message and motivator for them later on in their education.

Developing an awareness of sounds

Even when they are still in the womb babies hear sounds, and we live in a world where we are surrounded by sounds most of the day. Some babies get distressed by very loud or sudden sounds but many sounds can be fun. They enjoy noisy toys and ‘funny’ or unusual sounds will often make then laugh. Always explain what sounds are and identify different types of sounds with them, the bark of a dog, the beep of a timer, engine noises. It is good to get them to notice sounds. They will usually enjoy trying to copy sounds too, these are all useful skills for them learning to speak and listen to the speech of others. IT is important to have an environment when specific sounds can be heard so make sure they are not always surrounded by the background noise of a TV.

Identifying sounds in our spoken language

Before becoming readers most children are talkers. They learn to listen, understand and then speak which is essential before they try to understand how we read and write our language. You can help children start to identify the sounds in our speech by playing games, perhaps concentrating on words that begin with the same sound, spoon, sun, swan, star or boat, bat, ball brick etc but be sure to stick to sounds NOT letter names – it just confuses things for young children ………but more about that in the next post and there will be some games you can play that will help your children develop good auditory discrimination skills.



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