Growing up, I don’t really recall my parents reading to me. Being immigrants at that time, their focus was on providing a life for us. They were wonderful parents -very involved, loving and very education oriented. But they just didn’t know the importance of reading aloud to their children. I think like most parents in their community, they left the reading to the schools. As a result, my vocabulary and general love of reading was affected. So when I had my boys, I made sure to carve time during the day to read aloud to them.
Reading is such an integral part of the learning process. There are a plethora of reasons why you should read to your child, a few being helping them achieve academic success, develop speech skills, know how language works, better communication and thinking skills and so on. Children also need to understand that there are many purposes to reading; we read for enjoyment or to obtain information or learn facts. Words are everywhere!
Here are 7 great reading strategies for preschoolers.
Reading can benefit children of all ages whether you have a baby, a toddler or a preschooler. Set up a specific time during the day or evening to read aloud. Visit your local library and participate in story telling. Read books from different genres and across content areas. Read lots of non fiction books. Non fiction books are loaded with valuable information and facts which will help in building a strong informational foundation. There are so many wonderful books that are loaded with beautiful photos and information that little ones can process. I love National Geographic Little Kids First Big Books.
In my many years of teaching, I’ve seen so many children lacking in basic vocabulary. Vocabulary goes hand in hand with comprehension. By reading everyday to your child, they will develop an arsenal of vocabulary that’ll aide them in later years. You can expose children to a variety of terms through books, parent/teacher made printouts and/or through everyday life. For example, if you are at the beach, point out places or objects that are associated with the beach, like a pier, boardwalk, sea gulls, sea weed, kelp, seashells etc. Visit a farm and recall names of farm animals and babies. Get non fiction books on topics that is of interest to your child. I remember my now 7 year old used to be fascinated with construction vehicles when he was 2. So through books, we learned names like excavators, cranes, bulldozer etc. The next time he saw a construction vehicle on the road, he knew what it was called.
Elements of a book
As you read a book aloud, point out the author and illustrator and their jobs. If its a nonfiction book, also point out the Table of Contents, glossary and photographs (& captions) if your child is 2 or older. This will help the children see the difference between a fiction and a non fiction book.
Before you start reading, make a prediction about what you think the book is going to be about. This is a key element in getting children to actively engage with the book. Continue making predictions and think out aloud throughout the book. As they get familiar with the word, ‘Prediction’, when you get a new book, ask, “What do you think this book is going to be about?””What’s your prediction?’ Have the child start with, “I predict this book will be about…….” Predictions are just guesses so don’t try to correct your child. At the end, you can ask, “Was your prediction right?”
Make a Text to Self Connection
The other day I was reading a fiction book about a family visiting a Dinosaur museum to my 4 year old, I stopped and asked him; “Do you remember when we visited a dinosaur museum?” We recalled our trip to the museum and all the exhibits we saw. This was a way for him to connect to the text through his experience. Again, this is another comprehension strategy we want children to use as they become proficient in reading. When you read books on experiences you’ve shared, prompt and help the child recall those memories.
After you a read book, ask questions to the child. What did we read about? Who are the characters in the book? Where does the story take place? Was there a problem in the story? If the child has difficulty answering these questions, then reread the book and help them out.
Rhyming is part of Phonemic awareness. It’s the ability to hear, identify and manipulate sounds in the language. Rhyming is a precursor to reading readiness. Reading or reciting nursery rhymes, poems and books helps children get familiarized with the concept of rhyming. As emergent readers, children are introduced to word families like -at (cat, bat, mat, sat) which further reinforces their ability to rhyme. Dr. Seuss books are a great introduction to rhyming.
Parents can ensure their child’s reading success by implementing these 7 great strategies in the primary years. Early reading is so important for reading and academic success in the later years. In the next post, I’ll be sharing some of our favorite books for Preschoolers.