Hi Mamas, I’m Cindy and I blog over at Living for the Sunshine. Along with being a blogger and mom of two sweet little girls, I’m also a kindergarten teacher.
Every year, the parents of my new kindergarteners want to know how to help their children be prepared to read. They often think that if their little ones know the alphabet, they will be ready to start reading.
But did you know there is a lot more to reading than just knowing the ABC’s?
I know so many moms want their littles to be prepared as possible for kindergarten, where they will learn to read for the first time.
Today I’m going to tell you about five key pre-reading skills that don’t involve learning the alphabet. And if you’re looking for more ways to prepare your child for kindergarten, don’t worry; I’ve got you covered. You can download my absolutely free checklist of 20 Essential Skills to Master Before Kindergarten.
5 Essential Pre-Reading Skills
OK, so let’s get into the pre-reading skills you should be focusing on before Kindergarten!
Rhyming is an important skill that is closely associated with learning to read. This is one of the first steps of phonological awareness, which refers to the awareness of the sound structure of words. Rhyming is a fundamental skill that is the foundation of learning word families, word chunks, etc.
There are lots of ways to encourage your child to rhyme. Singing silly songs like “Down by the Bay” or “Willabee Wallabee Woo” can reinforce rhyming. Reading rhyming books together, and even making up silly poems and chants are all ways to develop an awareness of rhyming.
#2 Nursery Rhymes
Did you know that children who can recite nursery rhymes are more likely to be better readers? Bryant et al. published a seminal study in 1989 that shows a strong relation between early knowledge of nursery rhymes and success in reading and spelling over the next three years. Like other rhyming activities, nursery rhyme knowledge enhances phonological awareness.
The best part of teaching your child nursery rhymes is that it takes no prep and no materials! Simply recite your favorite nursery rhymes like Jack and Jill, or Hey Diddle Diddle to your little one whenever you have a chance.
#3 Book Handling Skills
In addition to phonological awareness skills, book handling skills are important in the journey to learn how to read.
Children entering kindergarten should know how to handle a book properly (think how to hold it right-side up, turning the pages, etc.).
This might seem obvious, but with the advent of tablets and online reading (which certainly have their place), not all children are handling real books regularly.
Also, if your child struggles with fine motor skills, they may have trouble turning pages. It’s important to let your child turn the pages when you arere reading together.
#4 Letter Sounds
You may feel really proud that your child knows the names of all the letters. And you should! But knowing letter names isn’t enough.
Even more important is knowing what sounds the letters make. Letter-sound correspondence is key for reading. Some letters like B, D, and J are pretty straightforward. However, letters like H, U, W, and Y have sounds that don’t really sound like their letter name. Then there are letters like C (e.g. cat and Cecilia) and G (get and giraffe), which make two sounds. Not to mention the vowels, which have long and short sounds (for example, A can say it’s long sound like in Kate or its short sound like in cat).
A great way to introduce letter sounds is by using your child’s name. Excitedly point out other words that start with your child’s ‘sound’. Ask your child if any of their friends share their sound (it doesn’t matter if the names begin with the same letter. Georgia and Justin both have the same sounds, as do Sally and Cindy).
#5 The Love of Reading
The most important way to contribute to your child’s reading success at school by far is to foster a love of reading in your child.
The very best way to do this is to read to your child as often as possible. Spend special time snuggled up together reading books. Treat reading as an important activity to be savored. Don’t rush through bedtime stories, no matter how tired you are.
Take special trips to the library to discover new books. Take them to the bookstore for a special treat instead of the toy store. Act like books are the very best thing in the world.
If you’re having trouble finding books they really connect with, take a look at this list of amazing, engaging books that all readers will love.
Let your child see you read for pleasure as well. Talk about your favorite books, or tell them how much you’re looking forward to your next chance to read. I often read books on my phone and make a point to show my daughter that I’m reading, not texting or surfing Facebook! If you value reading, so will they.
That sums up my top tips for preparing your child to start reading.
Are you anxious about how your child will handle the transition to kindergarten? I lay out what to expect from your child in the first six weeks of kindergarten and how to help them adjust to the transition to K in this post.
Don’t forget to come visit me at Living for the Sunshine for more tips on parenting, reading and more!