The connection between childhood reading and school readiness revealed.
Reading to your child early on and often is not just an important bonding exercise – it lays the foundation for a lifelong love of learning. Here’s how you can stimulate your child’s story of success.
“Children need to develop a set of skills called ‘pre-literacy skills’ before they can learn to read or write,” explains Speech-Language Therapist, Savannah Senior. Pre-literacy skills include:
Verbal language: A child with weaker verbal skills is more likely to struggle with literacy than a child with stronger verbal skills.
Sound awareness: The understanding that words are made up of different sounds and how to differentiate between these sounds.
The mechanics: The knowledge that you read a book from top to bottom, left to right; how to hold the book upright, turn the pages etc.
Attention: Your child should learn to sit still and maintain attention to listen and understand the story.
Identification of shapes, letters and numbers: The ability to understand and compare different shapes and as he gets older, different letters and numbers.
Knowledge of the alphabet: Your pre-schooler will need to understand that a specific letter is linked to a specific sound.
Holding a pencil: The more your child can explore with pens, pencils and crayons, the better his control of the pen later.
“Reading and developing pre-literacy skills from a young age will not only improve your child’s memory, listening skills and vocabulary, but also equip them with knowledge about the world around them,” says Senior. Reading together also promotes joint attention. “Joint attention is important for the development of social communication, symbolic play, and the ability to understand the feelings, beliefs and intentions of others,” she adds.
“Developing your child’s pre-literacy skills is an important first step in ensuring that your child is emotionally, physically and cognitively ready to start learning to read and write,” comments Liz Senior, Occupational Therapist and Founder of Clamber Club. “With children expected to read and write at an earlier age than ever before, it is in their best interest to be given a head start at home through the practice of storytelling, colouring-in and most importantly, reading,” she adds.
10 ways to develop pre-literacy skills in your child:
- Make books easily accessible.
- Talk about and question the books you read together.
- Go on a reading adventure and visit the library.
- Make reading part of a routine – bedtime is always a great reading opportunity.
- Use different voices and speeds while reading – this will not only make it more interesting, but help your child to use his imagination too.
- Use picture books to create your own stories, stimulate your child’s imagination and build his vocabulary.
- Get creative and make your own books together.
- Point to the words as you read to help your child learn letter-sound associations.
- Connect reading and writing: Show them that once they have written something, they can read it. Show them that what they are reading, someone once wrote down.
- Label everything in your home to help your child become more familiar with words, letters and spelling.
Pre-literacy skills are important in assisting with school readiness and preparing your child for what is to come. They also encourage a love for reading, a hobby that will educate, entertain and inspire them for life!