Reading Tips for Little Ones.
If you asked my 3 year old son how to spell something he’d shout ‘I A B!’, – at the moment everything is spelt like that, no matter what it is, it’s just his standard response. Even though he’s completely wrong, I’m pleased because it shows he’s aware of some sort of code that ‘spells’ things, and although he doesn’t know what it is yet, he has a go.
You see, I remember someone telling me about the importance of speaking to babies, even before they could make recognisable noises back, because it was part of planting the seed of speech. Only months later would all the seeds start growing and speech would start. So however silly it seemed to ask a gurgling 6 month old ‘What would you like for tea?’, it did actually make sense. I’ve practised the same approach with learning to read, on both of my kids.
Before my daughter could read I used to ask her about what she thought things said, the aim being that she’d look at things and at least wonder about what they meant. I figured that building up her curiosity about those wiggly shapes in lines written all over packets and books was a good start. One memorable ocassion I asked her what it said on the packet of crisps she’d just got out of the vending machine, she looked intently at them, then back at me and announced proudly – ‘Darlek’s crisps!’ (obviously she used her real name and didn’t think the crisps belonged to Darleks). She’d at least tried to read the packet which is half the battle!
Almost every single bedtime (barring when they’ve fallen asleep in the car and been carried to bed) they’ve both had bedtime stories too. Even though it’s a bit annoying when they decide they love one particular book and want to hear it over and over again, it’s actualy really good as they’ve learnt them off by heart. This means they can guess the words when you point to them at the end of a sentence for example. Books that rhyme are brilliant for this as the previous line acts as a hint about the words in the next one, they’re brilliant verbal clues. The same principle applies to books that use the same phrase time and time again. An excellent example is the line ‘Where are you going little brown mouse, come and have tea in my tree top *****’ (The Gruffalo, if you haven’t already guessed….) Even if you don’t know the book, you can very easily predict the starred out word.
When kids do remember the words they feel like they’re ‘reading’ in a way. Praising them for this builds pride in their ‘reading’ skills and encourages them. Actually using your finger to follow along the lines is a great way of indicating to them that there is a connection between the written words and what you’re saying too. These little methods all add up to the basics of reading and recognising letters, words and eventually sentences. Sometimes you just have to use a bit of imagination to work out ways to introduce words and letters so they become familiar to your child. Using books as a tool, is just one of a million and one ways to help your child along the road to reading.
The point I’m making is that it’s never too young to start teaching them about words and letters. So, when you’re reading the Gruffalo for the billionth time through gritted teeth, remember, you’re building their reading skills, even if it is driving you nuts. Speaking of which…..’All was quiet in the deep dark wood, the mouse found a nut and the nut was good.’ Sorry, couldn’t help myself then…*giggles*