Here are some ideas for stay at home parents who want their child to receive some pre-reading skills before kindergarten
Name Recognition and Writing
Learning to recognize and write their own name is essential for children three to five years of age. It is a skill that they will be expected to know when entering kindergarten. Encouraging them to do so, and creating opportunities in the home to exercise this skill can often be a challenge. Here are some ways to encourage this in your child;
- To begin, start labeling things that are to be chosen, like a desert, with the child’s name. Say the letters with them, and help them sound it out. Have them pick out the first letter of their name. You can also label the places at the dinner table with all the family members names, and mix it up from night to night so that your young child will need to become familiar with and find his spot. You don’t need to get fancy with any label. Print them on the computer ineasy to spot letters, comic sans is a good font, or print them clearly with a marker, crayon or pencil. Eventually, your child can practice his name by making his own label for this activity.
- As your child learns to recognize his name, have him repeat the letters back to him. Notice those letters in everyday things-street signs, packages and ads, books-and note them to your child. Have them try to find those letters also. Activities like this makes reading and writing more meaningful and real to your child.
- As your child learns to recognize and sign their name, have them use and practice that skill, even if they are not very good at it. Have them write their name on any art work, or color pages. Have a ‘sign in and out’ board for favored activities, like computer games or TV shows, and have the whole family utilize it so that your young child is encouraged to do so.
Learning by sight what each letter in the alphabet is called, is a huge skill that every child should have before kindergarten, even if they don’t master how to write each one before kindergarten.
- Sing the alphabet song, the ABC song to the tune of Twinkle-Twinkle little star. This will get the child familiar with words that may not be used in every day conversation.
- Flash cards can be used to good effect in matching games and testing how well they know each letter. Pick a couple a day to really focus on, and go back to them, maybe asking periodically, “Now, what was this called again?” One can purchase flash cards in stores, particularly near the end of summer and beginning of the school year, or one can make them, or print them out from an online site. One such site is http://www.first-school.ws/INDEX.HTM . First school has tons of printable activities and worksheets, crafts and projects that the busy parent can easily print off, if you have a printer of course.
- Start with capital letters, and then move on to the lower case. You can make a matching game with lowercase and upper case letters, putting them together like a parent and child.
Sounding it out.
As they continue on with letter recognition, make those sounds for those letters when they are introduced and when you see them about. For instance, if you see a stop sign say, “Hey, there’s the word ‘stop’ S makes a sssss sound in stop.” Have your child repeat letter sounds back to you. Make it a game or a song and add some rhythm to it, you can even set it to music. Don’t over complicate things at first. Some letters do indeed make more than one sound, but pick the most common one and introduce the others later.
Read to your child.
Read to your child every day, for at least fifteen minutes. They will not know the value of the printed word if you do not show them. There are many books out there that introduce the alphabet and early reading skills. Don’t feel like you have to buy them. Go to your local library and you and your child can pick them out together and then get more on the next trip.
Label their world.
Words have meaning when associated with things that matter. You and your child can label things in the house with small pieces of paper, some tape and something to write with.
- Start by writing the names of things yourself and having your child watch you write and listen to you say the letters. Pick either lower case or upper case letters to focus on, then make a big deal about placing the labels. Make sure they are easy to read and that all the letters are recognizable.
- As your child gets familiar with the process, take the labels down and make a game of recognizing the different words by sounding out the words and replacing the labels. Label family members in a similar way.
- As the child gets more proficient in writing and reading, let them make their own labels. They don’t have to be perfect.
Coloring and holding the pencil.
Take a look at how you hold a pencil. That three point grip near the end of the pencil is how most people end up writing, and is what is preferred by public schools. It gives greater control over the writing utensil and allows for a freer hand movement over a fist grasp on the pencil.
- Encourage coloring and control over coloring and drawing. Coloring with the lines helps children learn control. Correct the grip if necessary, but do so gently without censor.
- To help children master this pincer grasp, break crayons into little pieces about ½ inch long. They will be forced to pinch in instead of fist it, and that will be the beginning of good writing habits.
For other activities on writing, check out First School at http://www.first-school.ws/INDEX.HTM , and Enchanted Learning at http://www.enchantedlearning.com/Home.html , and ABC Teach at http://www.abcteach.com/ . Each of these sites have printable worksheets for writing practice and letter and number activities.
Have fun teaching your child!