Kids can learn valuable skills through small, teachable moments during a normal day. This means no grueling work sessions with flash cards, buying expensive educational toys, or completing tedious worksheets!
Experts agree that children must have repeated exposure to “pre-literacy” activities to build their skills and enable them to become successful future readers. These skills set the stage for reading: (1) print awareness, (2) phonemic awareness, (3) vocabulary, (4) writing, and (5) oral language and comprehension.
Here are effective ways to sneak in literacy skills anywhere you go to give your child a head start for school:
In order for children to make sense of the world around them and the stories they read, they must grow a large and rich vocabulary. We now know that oral vocabulary has been linked to greater reading success in later years.
Read every day with your child. Books expose children to a wide range of words that they would otherwise not see or hear. They are also more likely to pick up the habit of reading in future years.
Life experiences are the best new vocabulary lessons. Visiting museums, the zoo, historical sights and even different parks can open up your child’s world to new words.
Stretch your child’s vocabulary by expanding on what they say. Then add a comment or idea onto what your child say. Repeat what your child says, then add a little more description to extend type of words your child is exposed to.
For example: If your child says, “Look at my hands, Dad!”
You say: “I see you have purple jelly on of your fingers. (Clarify and expand) Wow, that looks sticky! (Extend)”
Often parents simplify how they speak hoping it will help their child more easily understand what they mean. Instead, aim to use “rich vocabulary,” interesting words and phrases with bold descriptive words. Give your child every advantage by being intentionally specific about the words you choose. Your effort will expand their world of knowledge!
Instead of: “Did you see that dog?”
Try: “Did you see that gigantic, gray dog sprinting across the street?”
Kids’ brains are wired for challenge and new experiences, so they’ll naturally be intrigued by a new word. If you come across a “big” word when reading, take time to explain it and give them a definition that is easy for them to understand. Remember to use the word when you talk with your child later on!
“Do you see those ‘talons’ on the hawk? Those are sharp claws they use for catching small animals to eat. Can you say ‘talon’? Have you ever seen ‘talons’ before?”
These Pre-K vocabulary words introduce and reinforce commonly used words that will promote a child’s language development. Families should aim to use these in conversation and help their child understand the meaning of the words, not read or spell them at this age.