When conversations surrounding the necessity of high-quality preschool became a daily occurrence in the national media, I had mixed emotions.
On the one hand, I was happy. I am a strong supporter of education and these early childhood programs are beneficial to our children and communities. On the other hand, it scared me because I am unable to send my kids to preschool.
While the town I live in has an amazing preschool program, the hours are challenging to coordinate with our family’s work schedules. Kids go to school four days a week from 10-2:15 and, unfortunately, at this point in time, there is no care before or after to cover early mornings or later afternoons.
The fact that my children are unable to attend preschool has drastically shifted my perspective on educational responsibility. Preparing our children for school now falls solely to me and my husband.
As a reader, I have made sure that books are an integral part of my children’s upbringing. We read together every day and most nights before bed. Is this enough? I know that reading with your child can alone build vocabulary skills, help children become comfortable with books, serve as a great conversation starter and help provide quality time as a family. But, does this prepare my child for kindergarten?
Fortunately for me, my job as a staff writer at the Stern Center for Language and Learning, has given me an opportunity to delve into this question a bit more thoroughly. Here’s what I have learned: Yes, reading aloud to your child every day is a great way to prepare your child for learning to read in kindergarten. But, there are a lot of other fun games that you can play to supplement early literacy skills along the way as well.
Through this blog over the next few weeks, I will introduce a new, tried-it-with-my-boys-and-they-keep-asking-to-play-it game or activity that will enhance your child’s basic reading skills without them even knowing that they are learning.
This week’s games focus on Shared Book Reading, reading that is interactive and involves both the reader and the listener. Besides being a great way to connect with your child, reading and talking about books are keys to helping your child develop language, build comprehension and learn more about print.
A Little Q and A
When reading aloud to your child, point out objects in the pictures and name them, and ask questions like, “What do you think will happen next?” or “I see a cow and a horse. They are both animals. Can you think of another animal?”
Asking questions about the story and pictures will help children build problem-solving skills, predict outcomes, learn cause and effect and classify objects. Reading together also encourages children to read on their own and enjoy doing so. Children of school age who read every day for pleasure perform better on tests than their peers who do not read on a daily basis (National Endowment for the Arts, 2007).
Books in Baskets
Make books accessible. Have a basket of books anywhere your child may be: the bathroom, the car, the kitchen, the bedroom. If you don’t have a lot of books at home or your child has already read everything you own, take advantage of the library or bookmobile in your area.
Studies show that access to books improves a child’s reading performance and causes children to read more and for longer lengths of time (Reading is Fundamental, 2010). Also, children who live in print-rich environments and who are read to during the first years of life are much more likely to learn to read on schedule (Reach Out and Read, 2008).