Monday, July 9, 2012

Early Literacy Series, Day 1: Just read!

For the second week in my Month of Series, I am going to share tips and tricks for early literacy development that you can do at home.  I'll be sharing my favorite ideas and links to additional resources.  I'm not an expert by any means, but I know what works for my kids might also work for yours. Of course, it might not.  All of these ideas can be tweaked to meet your child's individual needs.

So, day one: JUST READ.  Yeah, okay, you probably already knew that. Every child should be read to (or read, if they can) for 20 minutes a day. You can do it here and there throughout the day, or all in one sitting if your child likes to have downtime right before bed.  The important thing is the cumulative amount of time you spend reading together.  The more exposure our kids have to language and text, the more likely they are to be fluent readers.  We talk to our kids every day, but time spent with a book is time teaching them that our spoken language is made up of a written language.  Letters make words, words make sentences, and sentences tell us a story.  There is no wrong way to read a book to your kids, but here are some suggestions to get even more out of your story time:

1) Look at the pictures and talk about them.  Don't worry about the text, just take a "picture walk" through the book. If your child is old enough to discuss the pictures with you, ask them to tell you what is going on in the pictures. You can make predictions of what the story is going to be about and then check them by reading the text. Some books only have pictures specifically so that you and your child can make up the words to go with the text.

2) Alphabet hunt - If your kiddo knows his or her letters, ask them to find and identify letters on each page. You can also do this with familiar words or sight words, if your child knows any.

3) Trail your finger along the text as you read.  This draws attention to the fact that it is the words that tell the story.  As your kiddo learns words, you will be able to share in the reading of books.  I always pause when I get to a word RJ knows and he reads it for me.  It draws out the reading a bit, but it really gets him involved.

4) Have fun!  Use character voices - a high squeaky voice for a mouse, a deep voice for a lion, etc.  It adds to the "give and take" of the dialogue, and your child will love it!

Share your ideas on how you read to your kids below in the comments!  Do you have a favorite book?