Learning letters necessary? Yes…. boring…NO! These 26 symbols of our English language, when put together in the right order, are pretty powerful players. Put together in the wrong order or leaving one behind and something that is very pretty can become petty. A tart can become gassy and your dog may end up as a place for lots of dead plant material.
For toddlers and preschoolers who are beyond the stage of experiencing the world with their mouth, magnetic letters are a great tool for learning. They can be front and center on your frig or used in a child’s lap with a cookie sheet, or on a desk with a small magnetic easel.
When you introduce your child to a new learning tool, such as magnetic letters, let them experience them in their own way for a period of time. You will learn valuable information about what they already know as you watch how they interact with the materials. Children are very curious by nature and giving them time to explore on their own will make them more agreeable when you direct the play.
Magnetic letters provide opportunity for much more than just learning letter name/sounds. They are great for visual, auditory and tactile skills. Help your child with visual discrimination by having them find letters that look the same. As your child manipulates the letters, they are working on fine motor and tactile skills and as they hear the letter names and sound the letter makes, they are working on auditory skills. Math skills can also come into play as your child sorts letters according to color, shape and size and counts them.
Don’t forget to follow your child’s lead. Learning letters should be fun for little ones and is a process that involves exposure in many different ways in many different settings.
All this ABC talk reminds me of a funny story. At the beginning of the school year, we screen children to see how many letters/sounds they know (first grade). One year I was working with a wonderfully peppy outgoing little girl, and as I pointed to the letter “L” she replied “lemino”. L,M,N,and O all blended into one beautiful letter in her world of ABC. Aren’t kids great? Enjoy!
One of my greatest joys in teaching first grade was teaching children how to read. There are many things you can do to help your child become a great reader before they begin a formal reading program.
- Tell your child they are a “reader”, even if they aren’t able to read words yet. Seeing themselves as a “reader” will help them have confidence and patience as they are on their journey to becoming an independent reader.
- They are a “reader” because they can “read” the pictures to tell the story. Reading the pictures is an early reading skill. It will help your child notice details on the page, and strengthen vocabulary and comprehension skills . So look for books with great pictures that tell the story!
- As you read a story, have your child predict what will happen next. This is an important skill in developing good comprehension. They are using prior knowledge and critical thinking skills as they predict.
- Help your child to make connections between what they are reading and their own world. This skill also strengthens comprehension and makes reading personal and relevant.
As always, have fun when reading with your child.
Next: FUN with ABC
One of the fondest memories I have from when my children were little is snuggling with them as we read books together. AND one of the best ways you can help your child learn is by reading to them.
Let’s look at some of the magic that happens when you read to a baby:
- BIG TIME BONDING!
- LANGUAGE LANGUAGE LANGUAGE
- PRINT AWARENESS
- LEARNING HOW BOOKS WORK
- ENHANCING ORAL, VISUAL AUDITORY AND TACTILE SKILLS
- LEARNING ABOUT THE WORLD
Hold them close and feel the connection. Help them associate reading with a loving experience.
AS you read, your baby is hearing how words are pronounced (articulation) and beginning to associate words with meaning. You are helping to build your child’s vocabulary – a crucial skill for learning to read.
CREATING BABY’S LIBRARY
Soft books and board books are wonderful for babies. They can touch and interact with them on their own. These will get messy as babies learn through touch and putting things into their mouths – so make sure they are baby friendly!
Begin building a library that is out of reach until your child is older and knows how to handle books with care. Look for books with large print – few words and great colorful pictures. Books that label pictures are great for associating words with objects and rhyming books are great fun for rhythm of language. Rhyming is an essential skill when learning to read. Nursery rhymes, poetry and children’s classics are great ideas to build your child’s library. BUT don’t wait to read these until they are older…..as long as your child shows an interest – engage them with these books as well.
Don’t forget your local library. They have wonderful story time programs beginning at an early age. AND of course what better for your home library than rotating books from your local library on a regular basis. Best of all…..IT’S FREE!!
READING time with babies will be short and sweet – but do it often and do it with love. By engaging in this simple loving activity you are forging a path to helping your child be a great reader and a lifelong learner.
If you have any questions, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.
Have fun with your child! Reading is the magic that opens up the world to them.
Next post: Let’s Talk!
When I was teaching first grade, one of the most important question parents asked me was how they could help their child succeed as a learner. My answer was often met with silence and a request for more…..but I held fast to my response. Simple, direct, and to the point.
Read to them every day.
Too simple? Not really. Here is what happens when you read to your child:
- They are learning language
- They are learning how books work – left to right, top to bottom, front to back
- They are learning concepts in science, math, social studies
- They are learning that reading can open up new worlds
- They are learning that you VALUE reading
- MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL: They are learning that you value time spent with them
By reading to your child from a very young age – you are setting the stage for a lifelong love of reading – and learning.
And there are many other complex things that are taking place as you read to your child – depending on their age which I will touch on in later postings. But for now – let’s just simply say that reading to your child every day (from when they are in the womb) is an easy, cheap, lovely way to spend some time with your little one as you enrich and nurture their love of reading. So grab a good book, put your feet up, pull a little one or not so little one (reading together should be a long term activity…not just until your child enters school) into your lap….and have fun!
Next post: Books and your baby