Parents are their child’s first and most eduring educatior. This is particularly true when helping to prepare a child to be a confident reader, and one of the most important things a parent can do is share books regularly with their child.
Children should have access to books from an early age; fabric books, cardboard books and bathe books are ideal for the very young, but as your child grows picture books are the next steps in becoming an early reader. Picture books will help your child to:
- Understand the structure of a story
- Predict what might happen next
- Use their imagination
- Link the picture with the written word
- Increase their vocabulary
- Develop their comprehension skills
- Develop their discussion / conversation skills
- Learn to language of stories; character, plot, beginning, middle and end
Reading is not just about letter sounds and words, it also involves the appropriate language structure and useage, in all forms; spoken, written and read.
Story time is special, not only for supporting your child’s early reading skills, but it also strengthens the bond between parent and child. To help your child make the most of story time:
- Ensure you and your child and sitting comfortably, and in a calm environment
- Pick books that will interest your child
- Pick books that you enjoy and are confident in reading
- Allow your child to use their imagination to change what happens in the story
- Use different voices for characters and change the tone of your voice to match events within the story
- Use facial gestures to embed the actions or personality of characters
- Ask your child questions about what is happening in the story
- Encourage your child to retell the story
- Use techniques such as using your finger to follow the words, this will help your child to understand that written language flows from left to right
- Your child may want the same book over and over, be patient, they are embedding their new literacy skills
- Visit your local book shop to pick new stories
Becoming an early reader isn’t all about books. Print can be found all around us, this is known as ‘Environmental Print’, so when you are out and about with your child, watch out for:
- Street and road signs
- Brand logos, you’ll be surprised by how any children recognise the ‘M’ of McDonalds
- Symbols, such as arrows
- Food labels while out shopping
Draw your child’s attention to these words, letters and symbols, they will soon be pointing them out to you.
Your child is on the pathway of becoming an early reading if they are:
- Using books correctly; from front to back, and turning single pages
- Talking about the characters and pictures
- Copying you by using their finger to follow the words
- Recognising some environmental print
- Recognising some key words
- Enjoying books by themselves and in when in your company
Reading should always be pleasurable, don’t pressurise your child to learn letter sounds and words, this will come in time.
Give your child a range of reading materials; books, comics, non-fiction (fact) books, such as car magazines, leaflets, menus, newspapers etc.