Sunday, March 28, 2010

My Word!

Help build your preschooler's vocabulary by emphasizing the names for things. For example, if you pass a dump truck, talk about the function of the truck and how it may have gotten its name. Be playful. Make up a riddle to encourage interest in and enthusiasm for words. For example, “What do we call that round yummy circle that tastes good with milk? Right! A cookie.” Then have your child make her own riddle for you to guess.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

And Also Left to Write

Point out to your preschooler that when you write--just like when you read--you move from left to right. You form words from letters and you write the letters and the words in left-to-right order. Each word is made up of letters, and begins and ends in a particular way. (“That’s how we spell the word boat.”) And between your words are spaces. You may take the idea of letters and words for granted, but this may be news to your young child.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Left to Right

As you read aloud to your preschooler, run your finger along, under the words. This is a subtle way of emphasizing the English speakers’ convention of reading words from left to right across the page. It is also a way to emphasize the relationship between the symbols on the page--the letters--and the sounds you are saying. Without making a big deal of it, when you get to the end of a page, ask your child to “turn the page.” Again, this is a subtle way to demonstrate the way readers progress through a book.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Words of Wisdom

I want to share something I read recently, written by Mary Kuehner, who is a children's outreach librarian in Colorado. I think she really gets to the heart of the matter.

"I am a children's librarian and helping preschoolers get ready to read is not only my job, it's my passion. We have lots of fun with books! I work primarily with children living in poverty and I talk to their parents regularly about how very important it is to read to their children. The learning to read process begins long before a child enters school. By hearing stories read aloud, and using books, young children learn vocabulary, phonological skills, how print works, letters, and many other skills that prepare them to learn to read on their own. Most importantly, though, if a child is read aloud to by their parent, they learn to love books. And children who love books are motivated to become readers. It's as simple as that!"

Thursday, March 11, 2010

In Your Own Words

Here’s something to try after reading a new story book. Ask your child to tell the story in her own words. She may want to page though the book again, using the illustrations as clues, retelling the story in her own words. She may recall some of the story in the exact words you read aloud--especially if the language is especially memorable or compelling. Or she may put her unique spin on the story!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Flex Time

Is reading at bedtime just not working for your schedule? Maybe you work nights or go to school and it's just not possible to make bedtime your regular story time with your preschooler. There is not just one “right” time to read. Perhaps you are home in the morning with your preschooler before he goes to school. Or maybe you bond at bath time, or lunch time. Don’t worry about what the clock says. The important thing is finding some time to enjoy reading together every day.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Get Caught Reading

Make sure your young child catches you in the act of reading--whether it is a book, magazine, newspaper, or yesterday’s basketball scores. Then go beyond just getting caught. Point out the ways you use reading every day. If you are studying a train schedule, or looking at a map before hitting the road, point it out.  Explain that you are about to read the ingredients of a recipe or instructions for putting together a toy or setting up a piece of equipment. Read them out loud. It may seem obvious to you, but it will help your young child catch on to the many ways reading is the key to . . . everything!

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.