FUN WAYS TO TEACH YOUR CHILD HOW TO READ
Debbie Glasser, Special to The Miami Herald
three kids and countless readings of Goodnight Moon, I thought I
had fully covered our family's favorite book - and dozens like it.
after night, we enthusiastically pointed to the red balloon and
those three little bears. We found the mittens and we found the
kittens. In fact, pointing out the pictures was a big part of our
reading time. And that was fine.
according to literacy experts, there are even more ways to enjoy
books, nurture a love of reading, and help prepare children for
of the best ways parents and teachers can help preschool children
get ready to read is to introduce them to the printed word,'' said
Laura Justice, associate professor at the Curry School of Education
at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. "Pointing
to the letters and words on the pages - not just the illustrations
- can go a long way in helping young children understand how print
ability to read requires an awareness of a unique code: Print runs
from left to right. Letters are different from words. Titles tell
the name of a book.
are basic aspects of reading,'' Justice said. "And these are
things children need to understand before they can read.''
before you assume that pointing out the printed word will take the
fun out of reading, think again.
find print just as interesting to talk about as colors and illustrations,''
Justice said. "Print is all around them. When we start to point
out print in the environment - and in the books our kids are already
enjoying - they'll begin to view print as interesting.''
are some ways to create a print-rich environment and help your young
children get ready to read:
early. Promoting an appreciation of print isn't an age-based experience.
You can start any time, Justice said. "The bottom line is that
when kids walk into kindergarten, we want them to have an appreciation
of print and a recognition that it's part of their world,'' she
playful. "Read books that your children enjoy,'' she said.
"There are dozens and dozens of print-rich books that you're
probably already reading with your child.''
as you point out pictures and colors, find opportunities to point
enthusiastically to the title or the letters on the page, she suggested.
Just be sure to follow your child's interests and read his cues.
"For reading to be a high-quality, social-emotional experience
for kids, we need to be responsive to them,'' Justice said.
it relevant. Lorraine Breffni, early-childhood training specialist
at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, encourages parents to
look for frequent opportunities to point out print in children's
offers these suggestions:
When ordering food in a restaurant, draw your child's attention
to the print on the menu by saying, "This meal looks delicious.
I wonder what it is called so I can order it.'' Underline the selection
on the menu with your finger and read it out loud. Encourage your
child to find the picture of a meal he would like and read the accompanying
selection to him.
When writing the weekly shopping list, ask your child to help think
of items you may need. Spell out the letters in each word as you
write and read the completed list back to your child. Encourage
your young child to write a shopping list, too. Even if her efforts
look more like scribbles than letters, you are giving her an opportunity
to embark on a journey toward eventual literacy.
Take your child grocery shopping with you. Read items from your
list and ask your child to help you find it: "I need cereal.
Can you help me find the Cheerios?'' Your child may recognize the
Cheerios box by its logo, rather than the individual letters in
its name. Noticing that the Cheerios logo is different from another
cereal, however, is an important pre-reading skill.
When driving your child to preschool or other activities, point
out "environmental print'' - easily recognizable traffic signs,
store names and symbols.
Make books, magazines, cards and party invitations with your child.
While it's easy to buy ready-made books and cards, by making them
together, you teach your child about print conventions: books have
titles, authors write words and illustrators draw pictures, text
can explain pictures, spoken words can be recorded for posterity
by writing them down, text can be fact (the location of a party)
or fiction (a story about a fairy in the garden).
agree that the key to promoting early literacy is to provide plenty
of encouragement and positive reading experiences, not pressure
or criticism. When parents and teachers nurture an early interest
in reading and the printed word, children will be more likely to
start kindergarten ready - and eager - to learn.
Debbie Glasser, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and founder
of NewsForParents.org, an online newsletter for parents. She can
be reached at debbie@NewsForParents.org.
August 3, 2006
Copyright (c) 2006 The Miami Herald