Monday, May 26, 2014

Run, Don't Walk!

So the official (or is it unofficial?) start of summer is here! That means summer reading lists . . . for you and for your preschooler.

Make your first stop the nearest public library. Find out what kinds of programs are available for your young child. Children's librarians are trained to engage children; they pick out appropriate books and have lots of ideas for how get to get your child enthusiastic about reading.

Pick up the schedule for story hours, craft hours, movies, and other programs geared to your child's developmental level and interests. They are likely to be free. It is a no-brainer. Run, don't walk, to your local library!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Love Letters?

I am not so focused on teaching reading skills per se. My main interest in early literacy is for parents to encourage their young children to love books and reading.

However, if while reading a story together, you notice that your preschooler shows curiosity about the actual letters on a page, encourage her interest. Say aloud the sounds that the letter makes. Name some words that begin with the letter. Then, point out more examples of the letter in print--in other books, magazines, on street signs, and so on.

Show her how the same letter appears in different sizes and fonts and in uppercase well as lowercase. Demonstrate how you print the letter on paper, where it lives on a keyboard, and let your preschooler try her hand at writing the letter.

Then, if your preschooler seems to lose interest in this discussion, drop it immediately, and get back to your story!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Use Your Words!

Vocabulary knowledge is key to being a reader. Help your preschooler learn to love words.

Label things as you go through your day. "Oh, look at that enormous skyscraper!" Talk about what things are called. Use great (and multi-syllabic) adjective to describes what you are seeing together.  Encourage your child to do the same. Don't feel stuck on using kid words--be extravagantly expressive!

Besides naming things, use words to describe feelings. "Oh man, I am feeling a little weary right now. Let's rest for a bit and then continue." Or "I am sad today. I am missing Jenny a lot." Demonstrating that words can communicate feelings is so important for your child so he can learn how to express what he is experiencing.

Words are so powerful--in reading and in communicating. Help your preschooler learn to use and enjoy them!

What I think . . .

There are all kinds of readers. Some—like my daughter and me—are never without a book to read for pleasure. Others—like my son—are careful, analytical, and curious readers who read primarily to seek information from the page.

No matter what kind of reader your child becomes, you can help him or her get started. After all, you are your child’s first teacher. And, best of all, you can have some fun in the process.

Please feel free to share your own ideas. Tell me about ways you've enjoyed reading with your child.

Madeline Boskey, Ph.D.