Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite authors, said:
“Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them.”
If books make great gifts, then certainly the gift of reading is priceless! Children begin the process of learning to read long before they actually read.
Laying the Foundation to Read
Talking, or more formally oral language, is critically important for future reading skills. Immerse children in language by engaging with them: in everyday speech, reading aloud, singing, and enjoying fingerplays* together. It exposes them to words, increasing their vocabulary as well as comprehension and develops their phonological awareness giving them the ability to:
●Recognize and identify syllables in spoken words; and
●Hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words
*Many times fingerplays also have the added benefit of providing cross-midline movement as well as developing the muscles in the eyes both of which will be needed for reading.
Building on the Reading Foundation
In addition to the above, children have a far greater potential for success in learning to decode print, in other words, to READ when they have:
●Understand the rules of grammar
●Experience with printed materials; and
●Understand some of the concepts of print. For example:
—–°There’s a front and back to a book
—–°Books have titles and authors
—–°Books are read from left to right, top to bottom; and
—–°Words are made from letters, with spaces separating words
These skills and capabilities develop more readily when children experience language immersion.
Reading vs Comprehension
Reading and understanding what you’ve read are two different things.
In terms of understanding, vocabulary development is an important predictor of success for reading comprehension. Immersing children in language builds their vocabulary. When children have an enriched environment with a variety of activities and experiences, they’re able to build a foundation of knowledge. It’s this foundation of knowledge, their bank of experiences, that influences their understanding of the world and impacts their ability to comprehend what they read.
PLAY, especially with multi-sensory materials, provides children with many opportunities to add to their foundation of knowledge!
On Your Mark, Get Set, GO!
Both phonological awareness and vocabulary development should begin early. As soon as your baby’s born share rhymes, songs and chants as well books and oral language. Oral language develops and builds along a continuum:
● First as a monologue describing what you and your baby are doing
—–°Putting words to things, movements, and qualities (nouns, verbs, adjectives/adverbs)
● Then mimicking baby’s pseudo- dialogue of cooing and babbling; to
● Finally extended (and hopefully undistracted) conversations with the adults in their life.
“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald
Parenting is work, sometimes hard work! Remember the advice in 3 Key Points: Understand, Prepare and Accept? You see the importance of oral language for your kiddo’s future reading success, so PREPARE! If you don’t have a library card yet, GET ONE! Then fill up your house and car with BOOKS! Share your favorite songs. Sing along in the car; hum a tune or belt out lyrics while cooking; and, of course, sing while bathing your kiddo!
Speaking of the car. Families spend a lot of time in cars going back and forth to school, taking kids to activities and/or community events. Rather than turning on your car’s DVD player or letting the kids zone out with electronic devices, engage with them. Play old car games like
“I spy with my little eye something that…”
You might want to change the ‘slug’ part…
So many ways to PLAY! Here’s an extra challenge: Look for states in the order the were admitted into the USA!
Here are more ideas for games to do in the car
Maybe you’d like to start a new tradition! Creating a positive mindset first thing in the morning, or giving thanks, is something that can impact your child in a significant way. So help them set an intention. Setting an intention has many benefits:
◦It increases motivation
◦Improves self-esteem, and
Additionally having an intention helps us stay more fully present and mindful, leading to less impulsive behavior.
Here are ideas and tips for intention-setting.
Another benefit of setting an intention at the beginning of the day is it automatically gives you something to talk about at the end of the day!
Talking, or oral language, gives children an understanding of the framework of language. The experience the flow and sound of language and get a sense of its components, ie, words and sentences. Oral language is the foundation to reading.
So keep talking! Keep reading! And ALWAYS keep playing!
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” — Margaret Fuller
Yours in Play!