The other day I heard about the “Your Baby Can Read” infomercial. Out of curiousity I googled this infomercial, and both the mom and the teacher in me wanted to cry.
Has our society really come to this? Are parents really buying this video? Is it necessary for such young children to learn to read? Is placing them in front of a video and using flashcards really the best way to teach children?
Parents want so desperately to give their children a head start in this hyper-competitive world, that I can see how this video/flashcard system can be a moneymaker for its creators.
“You’re forgetting about Reading Readiness! Children will read when they are ready to read! Let babies be babies! Let children be children!”
I am teacher hear me roar.
I’ll back up that roar with some suggestions for Reading Readiness for infants through preschoolers that I’ve learned as both a teacher and a parent.
My guess is they cost a lot less than what any infomercial can sell you.
1. Read to your child. Everyday. It should be an enjoyable activity.
2. It is a wonderful thing when a child wants to hear the same story over and over again. Read it until you have it memorized, and then read it many times more.
3. Talk to your child. Ask your child questions, even when they are too young to answer. (Always pause and give them time to answer.) Tell your child what your are doing. Provide a running commentary as you go about your day. Talk, talk, talk!
4. What difference can following numbers 1,2 and 3 make? Tens of thousands of words! Children are a blank slate, capable of learning ANY language in the world. Just imagine the vocabulary you can teach your child.
5. Sing songs that rhyme. If you can’t sing, then chant nursery rhymes. Rhyming is so important for hearing the ending sounds of words. Many children love silly songs and poems, and may create some of their own.
6. Alliteration is the beginning sounds of words. Find songs or poems with alliteration. Teach them to your children. “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.” Children will learn to hear (and feel with their mouth) the beginning sounds of words.
7. Sing the ABC song over and over again. Everyday. You can even use a small chart and point to each letter as you sing it. You would be amazed how many children think that “LMNOP” is one giant letter. Many children think that there is an “N” between Y and Z.
8. While reading a story to your child, ask questions about the story. “What color is the dog? Do you think the dog will ever get home? What will the dog do next? Did you like the story?” This builds comprehension and vocabulary.
9. If you think your child might not know a word, give it a definition. “Do you know what a spade is?” (Wait a little while for a response, even for non-talkers.) “Spade is another word for shovel. Do you see the spade?” Then point to the picture.
10. When reading a story follow the words with your finger. Left to right, return sweep, top to bottom, front to back. Let your child help to turn the page.
11. Talk about the front and back of the book. Talk about the author and illustrator. Are the pictures drawn, painted, colored or are the pictures photographs? This helps build print awareness.
12. Let children see you reading books, recipe books, magazines, and newspapers. Take children to the library. They will be able to see that words are important to you.
13. Talk about the print all around you. There is environmental print everywhere. You find print on cereal boxes, snack bags, signs and toys. The possibilities are endless, and this is another opportunity for print awareness.
14. Remember that letter identification and letter sounds will be learned when the time is right. Each child who can learn, will learn when they are ready.
15. Relax, read a book, and have a conversation.
Children grow up too fast, so let’s stop pushing the fast forward button.