Language and Literacy for the Early Years
Early Reading Strategies for Kids
Introducing literacy skills and reading at an early age can provide the abilities to help your child grasp the language and skills to succeed as they grow. It is never too early to start, and you can provide a wonderful environment at your home. Parents can be the initial teachers to open the world for your child.
Starting early does not only include reading a book but includes conversations, music, observations, and viewing images. These moments build literacy. Literacy is further explained here.
Ways to Teaching Early Reading
- Conversations-At the ages of 1, 2, 3, and 4 your child is experimenting with words and is speaking different phrases and sentences. With your 2-year-old, you might hear fewer words. Your 3-year-old might be forming clear and even silly sentences. Then by the age of 4-years old an expansion of vocabulary weaved into those sentences should be apparent. When you can, take advantage of any age to build their vocabulary through these fruitful conversations. If you hear singular words such as “truck,” “dog,” or “ball,” then describe what your child says, ask questions about it, or point to examples. When your child becomes older, continue the conversations and add new vocabulary words naturally to help them understand the conversation.
- Repetition– It is important to repeat the words that your children say because it provides more practice opportunities and memory building. When repeating, be intentional on words that might be useful. Be mindful of the language. When repeating, you can use different tones, emotions, and even objects to demonstrate how these words are different depending on the context. You can find more examples here.
- Read Daily-Take the time to read 2-4 books each day. Reading aloud each day gives the introduction to vocabulary words, sentence structure, word sounds, and the usage of language itself. Find ways to point out words and ask questions. Also, when selecting books, select nonfiction, poetry, and fiction text so your child can see the different word patterns. Reading aloud is a fun activity that encourages voice changes, expression, and fluency.
- Flashcards-Flashcards can be used for reading, viewing, listening, and speaking. Flashcards for young readers should have images so you can discuss the story, match similar images or words, identify colors, and see if you can find different categories or relationships with the cards such as animal words, food words, and more. Flashcards are great tools to display information quickly. Sample pack here.
- Screen Time-In the 21st century, logging on to YouTube, or giving your child a tablet to watch seems like a simple solution. If you must have your child watch a video, then repeat what you hear and expand on ideas from the video. Think about reinforcing vocabulary and encouraging your child to answer questions the character says. Technology is not the most important measure, but understand that as parents this might be one of your only options.Parenting is a challenge where sometimes placing your child in front of the television means getting more work completed, finishing up a household chore, or needing to take time for yourself. For whatever reason use screen time with the intent to learn by watching high-quality programming that can improve your child’s vocabulary and cognitive abilities. Also, consider the time limit. This article shares the impact technology can have on our children.
- Toys-The power of play for your child can have positive outcomes to build language, creativity, discovery, and even fine motor skills. With toys you can describe, categorize, and tell stories with. Play gives children the opportunity to try new things and learn from their mistakes. In this article, “Early learning and play are fundamentally social activities and fuel the development of language and thought. Early learning also combines playful discovery with the development of social-emotional skills. It has been demonstrated that children playing with toys act like scientists and learn by looking and listening to those around them.” When you encourage your child to play, you are providing opportunities for language growth and so much more.
- Routines-Decide throughout the day when you want to read a book or practice flashcards. Early language learning is critical. Children enjoy routines and predictability. I encourage you to have bookshelves or containers of books in your home. Books should be accessible when it is time for that time to read. You can establish the routine of reading a book when introducing new routines. For example, eating at the table, potty time, a new nap schedule, relaxing, and even car rides. One effective to motivate your young reader is to get into the habit of reading yourself. When your child sees you read, they might want to model after you.
- Be Intentional-Planning ahead might be a lot for working parents. However, reflect weekly on what it is that you want your child to do. This can be as simple as, “Each day we will read 2 books.” “Each day we will learn one new English and Spanish word.” “Each day I will ask what did you learn at school and tell me how you did it.” There are numerous ways to establish your educational intent with your child. Ultimately this pattern for yourself can help you when your child is school age.
- Writing/Scribbles-A pencil, crayon, marker, or paintbrush should be comfortable and familiar tools for your child. Once my son was holding a spoon for a few months, I introduce each tool little by little. Once he turned two, he identified and used each tool appropriately for use. I encourage my son to scribble, color, or paint every day so he can develop his fine motor skills and control. One suggestion is to have a notebook just for your child, and let them scribble away.