Reading is a vital skill for life which children master at different speeds in their early years. Schools are often asked how parents can prepare their children so that they become confident and fluent readers.
There are many ways which parents can help their children to become ready for reading before they start school and these are also good tips how to support the progress of reading skills through the following years.
Before reading books and recognising letters and matching them to their relevant sounds, children need to be hearing and using lots of language. Talking with your child and discussing what they are doing gives fantastic opportunities for them to hear how language is constructed – those early ‘sentences’ can be modelled so that the children are exposed to extending their phrases into complete sentences eg ‘Me get it’ becomes modelled into ‘I can get the ball’, ‘I can pick up the ball’, ‘I can catch the ball’ etc. This is also an early step for writing – if a child has no understanding of constructing and holding a sentence in their head they can’t be expected to create a sentence to write down.
Nursery rhymes and traditional tales are a brilliant way of involving children to remember key rhyming words which they can join in with. It introduces children to the skill of predicting what is going to happen next as well as recalling what happened before.
‘Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great …..?’ Once children are confident joining in, they love putting in nonsense words which also rhyme.
Using the vocabulary within the stories they are familiar with is a great way to extend their vocabulary. Playing with bowls and spoons allows children to recreate parts of the Goldilocks story eg ‘The first bowl was too hot’ etc and also is a simple introduction to mathematical ideas of bigger than, smaller than.
Listening to stories being read to them enables children to hear a story being read with expression and they love to join in with key phrases of their favourite stories, even though parents will try to hide particular ‘favourite’ books to the bottom of the pile as they know them off by heart after being shared repeatedly! Let your child help to turn the pages so they become familiar with starting at the beginning of a book and have lots of questions to talk out loud together eg ‘I wonder which chair she is going to sit on next?’ to encourage recall and prediction.
Children begin becoming aware of these ‘strange symbols’ around us called ‘letters’ starting with their names or street signs where they live. It is helpful for parents to refer to these with the sounds they make rather than the letter names (ay, bee, cee, dee etc).
Once children are able to match some of these letters with their sounds they will love spotting letters they know in the stories which they are sharing with parents.
At Ermine Primary Academy we use Read Write Inc as our reading programme to teach phonics throughout Foundation Stage and Key Stage One. Fred is a frog who only says sounds and the children play lots of games to help put Fred’s sounds into words for him – this is the first stage in blending sounds together to read. ‘Can you touch your ch-i-n?’ ‘Where is the b-u-s?’
These are just some of the early steps at the beginning of a child’s journey learning to read and Ermine Primary Academy value greatly the continued support by parents to help this process to be as successful as possible.