Editor's note: This post was originally published on May 28, 2015.
No, your baby can't read. Babies shouldn't read, and most preschoolers shouldn't either. Reading isn't something you should be pushing onto your child. But it is something — as parents — to have in mind. Your role is to prepare the environment, provide the tools and materials, and support, support, support. Supporting is not pushing.
So why title this post Teaching Your Preschooler to Read?
The truth is that your child starts learning to read on her very first day on Earth. She hears your voice — her first experience with language — and that is when her journey to independent reading begins. All the little steps you take with her prepare her for that day when you will eventually call her an independent reader.
For preschoolers, which can be loosely defined as 3- to 5-year-olds, learning to read means these sorts of activities:
- Reading with a caregiver, as often as she enjoys, but at least once daily.
- Learning about how books work. We read from left to right, we turn pages, and the text is what the reader reads.
- Playing with letters, letter names, and letter sounds. Use alphabet books, fun toys, and games.
- Playing with rhymes. Reading rhyming books, nursery rhymes, silly poems, and songs.
- Drawing and talking about what she draws.
- Learning to write. No need for handwriting workbooks (but if your child is eager, feel free). Just start making marks.
- Learning new words and talking about them.
Preschoolers learn through play, and at this age, that is how you should be teaching literacy. There is no need to be formally teaching a three-year-old to read with strictly structured activities, but that doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't have fun with literacy activities. Follow where your child is, and don't shy away from literacy activities, as long as they are playful. Play with reading now and soon reading will be a way they play.
How do you play with literacy? Tell us on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page!
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