Taking the time to read with your preschooler (or toddler) is so important! It doesn’t have to be hours one end, just twenty minutes a day will make a huge impact in the life of your child (and it will get them ready for Kindergarten)!
I was a teacher for several years, before becoming a play therapist. In both of my careers, I was able to witness the benefit of reading with children. I have seen it in my own children, as well. It is powerful. Not only for academic benefits, but for emotional benefits, as well.
I have found that what makes most parents turn away from reading to their young toddlers and preschoolers is that they do not have the attention span to sit through a full book… and that is OK! You don’t need to pick up a book and read it cover to cover. You can work up to that.
Sometimes I read books to our kids without ever even READING the words at all (this is one of the things that I talk about in my book, Getting Ready for Kindergarten)!
Did you know that a child that excels in reading will do better overall in school?
Reading helps with every subject. Think about it:
- If you can read well, you will be able to read & learn about science.
- You can directions and steps to understand math problems.
- You can comprehend a history lesson and book.
- Reading lends itself to every subject and becomes imperative.
- It teaches life lessons and shows the child different scenarios and how to handle problems that he/she will face in the outside world.
PARENTS ARE THEIR CHILD’S FIRST TEACHERS!
We will either help or hinder our child’s success. You can help by reading to your child, playing with your child (instead of just watching), talking to your child and just interacting with your child.
Here are a few tips to get going today…
1- Do a picture walk.
You don’t have to just jump right in and read the words. Children love to look at pictures. Explore these pictures with your child. A picture walk is just that- a ‘walk’ through the book, talking about the pictures, pointing out words that they may know and talking about what might happen in the book.
2- Label the pictures.
Talk about what you see. A dog? A cat? Label everything! (This improves speech, as well). After you see the picture of a Dog, try to find the word that would say “Dog.”
Example: What does Dog start with? D-D-Dog? D? OK- lets find the letter D and see if it sounds like dog. Oh! There it is! You are right! That does say dog! (If your child does not know their letters, try doing what we did to teach letters in a week.)
3- Count things.
Here is how I would read with our toddler: “I see three kittens on this page! Lets count those silly kittens before they run away and hide! 1…2…3… Oh my goodness, those kittens are talking to us. What do kittens say? Meow! Lets talk back to them. Meow. Meow”
For our preschooler: “Oh, wow! Kittens. I see the word Kittens. K-K-K-Kittens. Do you see more than one kitten? How many do you see? Three kittens- that’s right! What if one more kitten came? How many would we have?”
(OK- I’m sorry that I just gave you a whole run down of how to read a page with pictures, but you get the idea)
4- Read with expression.
When you are ready to read the words, you want to make it FUN! (By the way- sometimes I will “read” a whole book for 20 minutes without ever “reading” the words!)…
If you talk in a monotone voice (think of the teacher on the TV show Wonder Years), your child will not be engaged. You want to capture his/her attention!
The teacher that I student taught under in college (Mrs. LaRose- a Kindergarten teacher) was the most phenomenal teacher that I’ve ever met! I could not wait to teach, just so that I could use what she taught me. I probably learned more about teaching in her class than I did in many of my actual college courses.
If she did a lesson on Little Red Riding Hood, she came in dressed like Little Red Riding Hood on that day! She would teach math out of Little Red Riding Hood’s basket (counting the cookies that she was taking to her Grandmother). She would work with the letter R and let the kids paint with Red paint that day. Everything was tied to that one theme and the kids just loved being in her class (so did I!) She was so much fun!
5- Be animated & get them involved!
You want to bring the story to life!
Example: When you are reading a book and you read about someone knocking at the door, this is a great opportunity to get into the story. Knock on the book. Let the child knock on the book, too.
If they talk about the wind blowing, make a wind sound. When they talk about hugging their friend, hug your child. Get them involved! Your child is going to Learn to LOVE READING from these little things.
6- Reminder: Your child may want the same book 50 times before they are ready for a new one.
This is OK, normal and even great! They will learn this book and they are learning so much from re-reading it. Repetition is helpful at this age. Don’t be surprised if one day they start “reading” it to you!
If you are truly ready to prepare your child for Kindergarten, I highly suggest our book about Getting Your Child Ready for Kindergarten. It is filled with play-led ideas on how to prepare your child. It is written by two teachers (and mothers) and it was a very carefully, thought-out book with every single thing that you would want to know, broken down into extremely simple, manageable ideas. 🙂 Find out more here. Or you can download it here.
Good luck and enjoy this time teaching your child. You are making such a difference in their future by investing the time reading with them now.
Here are a few products that I have found to be helpful in reading with our children when they were preschoolers:
- Dr. Jean Music CD. (If you have not listened to this yet- get read to laugh and watch your kids dance and have a blast! Dr. Jean was always my favorite CD!)
- Preschool Scholar – I have not used this myself, but the price is right and I’ve heard great things!
- -Thinkfun Roll and Play – This is the perfect “first” board game. It is fun for all of our kids, but even our youngest child can play!