How To Start Teaching Your Child To Read And Write
Want to teach your child literacy skills but don't know where to start? Read our handy guide on developing your child's pre-writing and pre-reading capabilities.
It's no secret that reading, singing and storytelling help little ones learn and build their literacy capabilities! Learning to read and write is a privilege, and one of the most significant milestones we experience. While we don't want to push our little learners too much before they begin school, some small foundations can be laid now at home to start to develop these skills.
At Genius, we like to sing, read, rhyme and draw daily. These simple acts prepare preschoolers for reading and writing and give them the joy of exploring their own development.
Writing skills for preschoolers begin way before they pick up a pencil and begin to form letters. Prewriting skills, which start at preschool age, are necessary for your little one to master letter formation and coordination with a pencil.
If you are unsure how to start teaching your little learner to read and write, take a look at some of our simple steps you can incorporate at home!
Pre-writing / Pre-reading Skills
Pre-writing skills are a set of skills which lay the foundation for preschoolers to be able to write when they are developmentally ready. Some of these skills include:
- Well-developed gross motor skills
- Good posture and core control
- Good pencil grip
- Forming basic patterns
Activities such as Duplo or lego, playdoh and colouring will build these skills in a fun and interactive way to build prewriting and pre-reading skills at home.
Pre-reading skills help preschoolers to begin their literacy journey. Some skills which will help in their development here are:
- Listening comprehension
- Ability to acknowledge some letters of the alphabet
- Phonic awareness
- Motivation to read
These skills can be developed at home through appreciating a story together, nursery rhymes and storytelling. Many parents fixate on having their children know all the letters of the alphabet before school, but in reality it is not essential as that is what Prep teachers are focussed on!
Handwriting for Preschoolers
Handwriting is a very complex skill which develops over time. For a child to be able to write, they need to combine many skills all at once, such as fine motor skills, language, memory and concentration. Depending on the little learners' age, they are constantly developing these skills; it begins with scribbling, drawing, and then forming letters and words. To support your preschooler in handwriting, give them crayons or chalk and encourage them to develop an appropriate pencil grip. You can assist your little one in developing handwriting skills by encouraging them to scribble, draw and colour. They may show interest in learning to write their name. You can draw their name, and they can trace over it or colour it in. Another way to develop this grip is to introduce activities which pinch and squeeze things. Activities include threading beads onto string, pinching clay into shapes or playing with lego. These activities develop their fine motor skills, fingerprint grip and concentration.
Books and Preschoolers
At preschool age, reading books is about enjoying special bonding and immersing themselves in the story and illustrations.
To make the most of your story time, ask your little learner questions about the book you read.
- What do you think this story is about?
- Who do you think is in the book?
- What do you think might happen?
When you read, vary the pace at which you read to make the story more exciting. You can change your voice when you read different characters in the book. Encourage your preschooler to trace the words on the page as your read to them and encourage them to turn the pages. You also may ask questions about the story to promote comprehension as you read.
Point out different words and letters within the book and show them the difference between capital and lowercase letters. You can also start talking about the elements of a sentence to get them familiar with the way things are written – a capital letter at the start, a space between each word, and punctuation mark at the end.
Rhyming, Songs and Nursery Rhymes
Rhyming and singing songs with your preschooler is much more than a fun activity. These acts teach preschoolers phonic awareness. Rhyming songs and books empathise sounds and syllables in words, supporting literacy development. Nursery rhymes are fabulous for practising difficult words and are fun and interactive. Nursery rhymes also help in decoding sounds within the words, for example, cat, sat, and mat! Typically children will begin to identify rhyming words and develop their own rhymes. Before starting a rhyming storybook with your child, ask them to see if they can hear where the rhyming words or sounds are. You can have fun with rhymes and add some 'non-sense' rhymes of your own like froggy loggy or cuddle duddle…
When beginning to build pre-writing and pre-reading skills, make sure you make it entertaining and collaborative. At this age, it's not about getting children to read or write before school but instead laying the pre-reading and prewriting skills at home, paving the way for future development. Early education is a key time to develop your little one’s love of learning, so you don’t want to take things too fast or put any pressure on them. Be sure to let your child set the pace, meet them at the stage that they’re at, and make sure everyone is feeling supported and having fun!