Before embarking on the journey with a young child to decode symbols into words with sounds that actually begin the reading process, it is crucial that they recognize the symbols (letters). Knowing the alphabet and the sounds letters make is the key to reading.
It’s time for parents
How can a parent start this process? As young as 12 to 18 months, a parent can point out letters seen in daily life while shopping and/or taking walks. Street signs, parking lot markers, store window displays, and library walls may good sources. Buy a couple letter sets, both magnetic and sponge for games; a set of letter flashcards is essential and also some poster board and markers (probably the washable kind is best!)
Make signs with a large capital first letter and smaller case following and post them around the home; Bathroom, Refrigerator, Door, Mirror, Dog’s bed, Cat toy, etc. Ask the child every time you pass a sign, “what does that say?” until they are 100% correct. Play games with letters, putting the word of the day on the refrigerator door with magnetic ones, and playing and arranging letters on a table. Write or trace the letters on paper and then have the child think of as many words as he can that have that sound. Play games about animals, food or flowers; asking how many the child can think of that start with a certain letter. Rhyming word games are great learning tools.
Read daily to your child. Parents who already exhibit reading pleasure from books and magazines have already laid a good foundation. Read age appropriate books with child participation as much as possible. Take young children to the library and show them where books for their age are kept. Explain signs on the wall and look at exhibits. Keep their young minds curious and active.
Once your child’s reading skills progress, use flash cards. First only use three, then add two more at a time, using a teaching method called “chunking.” Find educational games on the internet, such as “The adventures of Scuba Jack,” for more fun while learning.
Beth Costanzo has been educating children for over 20 years and is the former owner of two highly successful childcare centers located in Gloucester, MA. Beth’s love of children and learning prompted her to create The Adventures of Scuba Jack as both an educational resource for teachers and parents.