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National Literacy Month: Teaching your kids to read from an early age

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Grab a book during National Literacy Month! Did you know that 65% of fourth graders are not proficient in reading in America according to Kids Count 2019? Taking simple steps can help ensure that  your child will go from babbling to book reading in their first 5 years of life. It’s up to you to read, talk, and sing with your young ones so they can learn new words and string longer sentences together. 

Here are some awesome tips to get you going at any age so your child is on track to succeed in school. 

Reading with Baby

It’s never too early to read with your child, so start early. Keep things interesting with these ideas:

  • Use silly voices when you read, and soon your baby will begin to make silly sounds too. 
  • Point at pictures and say the names of objects out loud. Your baby will listen and learn the importance of language.
  • Hold your baby on your lap while you read, and make eye contact.
  • Read for a few minutes every night at bedtime. This is a soothing routine that will end any day on a positive note.
  • Read on the go! Share a book while riding the bus or waiting in line.
  • Babies love to be bounced and rocked to the rhythm of chants, nursery rhymes, and songs that go with a book. Repeating those experiences during diaper changing or in the car will delight your child and make deeper connections in their brain development.

Between ages 1 and 2, your child will go through a language explosion turning single words into small sentences! Try creating a word box to boost your child’s vocabulary! Here’s how:

  1. Find a box and fill it with lots of items that interest your child. You might try items like a ball, doll, stuffed animal, cracker, cup, block, book, or bottle.
  2. Start by picking one interesting item. Show it to the child and say, “This is a _______. We do_______with it.” For example, This is a teddy bear. We cuddle with the teddy bear. 
  3. Pretend to use the item. If it is a phone, you can pretend to talk on it, for example. Next, repeat the name and return it to the box, saying, “I’m putting the phone in the box.”
  4. After that, encourage your child to look in the box by saying, “What’s in the box?” Give him a chance to respond. If he makes a sound, say, “Yes, that’s a _______,” and say the name again. If he does not respond vocally, answer your own question. For example, “Oh, that’s a _______.”
  5. Return the object to the box, and encourage the child to look again.

Music and singing are brain builders for your toddler. Try to put a little rhythm and rhyme in your routine every day!

  • Let him be in charge. When riding in the car, ask your child to choose a song to sing. Children are not often “in charge” of things in their lives. It’s fun for them to be in charge of the songs in the car.
  • Dance and move around. Sing a song with lots of movement or dancing in it – like the Hokey Pokey! Your child will be learning lots of new words, and the movement makes learning even more fun.
  • Add instruments. Young toddlers will enjoy instruments they can shake, such as bells, rattles, drums, and tambourines. Make your own shaker with a paper cup filled with rice or dried beans and taped shut.
  • Use music to change your toddler’s mood. Soft, gentle music seems just right for bedtime. Louder, bouncier music could be used when it’s time to clean up toys.

Literacy learning is most effective when it comes from the child’s world, which includes going to the grocery store.

Focus on reading readiness skills

  • Choose a letter as you’re walking into the store. Make a game of finding things in the store that start with that letter. For example, for the letter “p” you could find peanuts, popcorn, pineapple, paper and pizza. Emphasize the letter “p” and the sound it makes with each of your “p” words.

Focus on vocabulary skills

  • Position words are used every day at home and in the classroom. Use the items on the grocery shelf so your child can practice finding something above their belly button, below their nose, on the bottom shelf, and between other items on a shelf.
  • Opportunities to use superlatives, those little endings that help describe size, are all around the grocery store. Have your child find a big fruit, a bigger fruit and the biggest fruit in the produce section. What’s the smallest item in the cart? The largest item?

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Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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