Five Strategies for Creating a Reader

The following activities not only are fun but also actually help your child acquire skills needed to become a great reader.

Reading

  • Find materials that you and your child will be enthusiastic to read and share. Look for books that are visually appealing to your child.
  • Make sure that time for sharing books is an enjoyable time for both of you. Take a small amount of time each day to share reading with your child. Even a few minutes makes a big difference.
  • Tired of reading the same book over and over? Try a wordless picture book. Every time you share a wordless book, the story can change.
  • Have your child retell the story to you. It is an easy way to add new life to an old favorite and it helps your child with narrative skills.
  • Letters and numbers are all around us. Can your child recognize some signs already? Have your child identify letters and numbers that are relevant to him/her.
  • Take a 'picture walk' before reading a new book. A picture walk is just looking at the pictures before reading the actual story. What do you think will happen in the story based on the pictures?
  • Try to ask questions that begin with "what" rather than "find." Pointing does not give your child opportunities to practice talking.
  • Try non-fiction books. They have information that doesn't require reading in order and often have great pictures to look at.

Singing

  • Playing around with animal sounds and singing songs or nursery rhymes helps children isolate sounds in words. Sing some of your favorites or encourage your child to help you make up songs with silly sounds. It is a great way to create a reader and you can do it most anywhere.
  • Listen to sounds in the neighborhood. What is making those sounds? Can your child imitate them?
  • Ask your child to think about what sounds animals make. What kind of sounds would a dinosaur make? What about a fish? Robot dinosaur?
  • Have fun with sounds - change the beginning sounds of words or names.
  • Clap out syllables in words: Mon-key (two claps)

Playing

  • Playing really does help children become readers. Encourage imaginative play to help stimulate your child's creativity. Children can make up stories as they are playing.
  • Playing with puppets is a great way to stimulate creativity.
  • Play follow the leader as a family. Each family member gets a turn.
  • Building with traditional and non-traditional building materials/toys helps your child stimulate the imagination. Use blocks, boxes or even marshmallows to create wonderful worlds.

Talking

  • Children need to have a vocabulary of 3,000-5,000 words by the time they enter school. How can you help? Quite simply, talk to your child, no matter what age, and encourage your child to talk to you.  The bonds you forge will last a lifetime.
  • Do you know what to talk about? Talk about what you are making for dinner or what you will be picking up at the grocery store.
  • Putting together a bookshelf or working on a bike? Explain what tools you are using and how they work.
  • When your child draws a picture, ask them to tell you about the picture in detail.

Writing

  • Point out differences and similarities between letters and shapes. Provide your child with safe opportunities to handle a pencil or crayon to enhance fine motor skills. Scribbles are the first form of writing for young children.
  • Going to the beach or the sandbox? Help your child write their name in the sand.
  • Place some pudding or shaving cream in a securely closed sandwich bag. Let your child practice drawing letters and numbers.
  • Sidewalk chalk is great for sunny days and will wash away.
  • Let your child use play dough (you can make your own!) to work on fine motor skills and shape into letters.
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