If you want to encourage and help your young children to read early, there are 7 ideas that you can try.
- Sing Nursery Rhymes and Songs. They won’t just enjoy the catchy tunes of these songs, but after a few weeks, toddlers will start to hear the syllables and sounds in the words. They’ll become aware of the phonics in words and try to repeat them, even when they are off by several yards. Nursery rhymes and catchy tunes are the first things sounds that children respond to, after their parents’ voices.
- Talk to Them. No, they won’t understand what you are saying, but they will hear the words and see your mouth move, and they will hear the sound coming out of your mouth. Point to certain objects like the sun, birds, chairs and toys, and clearly pronounce their names to your child. Although this is not in the same league as getting your children to read, they will get interested in words, which will later help them in their initial reading.
- Use Flash Cards. You can make your own or buy them from book stores: simple flash cards with pictures and words on them. Ask your child to choose one from the pile, and then read out from the one they have chosen. Observe the picture together and talk about them to your kid, even when they don’t understand half the words. Ask them to repeat the word that you have just read, and repeat them together a few times.
- Have Plenty of Reading Materials Around. Apart from the books, try putting reading materials like posters, charts and labels around the house. Point them out and read them aloud, and ask your toddler to repeat after you. You can do the same everywhere: point out street names, spell out names of aisles in supermarkets, etc.
- Read To Your Child. Reading to your young children is one of the best ways to spend some quality time together. It helps to bond with children, and also to get them interested in books. Not just for learning, reading to your child can help them be patient, strengthen their comprehension style, increase their focus and attention span, and develop their love for books. Doing this for as little as half an hour every day can truly improve a child’s intelligence and maturity a significant amount.
- Use Your Fingers When Reading. When reading to your child, always use your fingers under the word you are reading. This way, your child would be able to associate sounds with written words, i.e. they’ll be able to understand the relation between what they are seeing on the book and what they are hearing from your mouth.
- Teach Them Phonetics Before Letters. The use of phonetics is the new technique in early reading instead of letters and alphabets. In this technique, children are taught the sound of the letter in addition to the letter they are learning. For example, “D” is taught as “Dah”, which makes it easier to understand why “D-O-G-DOG” starts with a “Dah” and not just a “D”. This techniques helps early reading more than the traditional technique.
In all of this, you have to be incredibly patient with your child. Even the brightest kid will falter and make mistakes in the beginning, and will continue to do so for a long time. If you are impatient and judgmental, you may just spoil their interest in reading forever. On the other hand, a little patience in the beginning will improve them significantly and they’ll soon become a fluent reader.