No, your baby can't read. Babies shouldn't read, and most preschoolers shouldn't either. Reading isn't something we should be pushing onto our kids. It's something we parents should be preparing for. Our 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 Preschoolers to Read?
The truth is that children start learning to read on their very first day on Earth. They hear your voice -- their first experience with language -- and that is when their journey to independent reading begins. All the little steps we take with them prepare them for that day when we will eventually call them independent readers.
For preschoolers, which I loosely define as 3- to 5-year-olds, learning to read means these sorts of activities:
- Reading with a caregiver as often as they enjoy 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 they draw
- Learning to write. No need for handwriting workbooks (but if the children are 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 we 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 be having 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!