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5 Practices to Get Ready to Read

Birth to 5

Playing Children learn a lot about language through play. Play helps children think symbolically, so they understand that spoken and written words can stand for real objects and experiences. Play also helps children express themselves and put thoughts into words. Give your child plenty of playtime. Encourage dramatic play. Pretend to read a book. Have your child tell you a story based on the pictures in a book.


Reading Reading together (or shared reading) is the single most important way to help children get ready to read. Reading together increases vocabulary and general knowledge. It helps children learn how print looks and how books work. Shared reading also helps children develop an interest in reading. Children who enjoy being read to are more likely to want to learn to read themselves. Read every day. Make shared reading interactive. Use books to help teach new words.


Singing Songs are a wonderful way to learn about language. Singing also slows down language so children can hear the different sounds that make up words. This helps when children begin to read printed language. Sing the alphabet song to learn about letters. Sing nursery rhymes so children hear the different sounds in words. Clap along to the rhythm in songs so children hear the syllables in words.


Talking Children learn language and other early literacy skills by listening to their parents and others talk. As children hear spoken language, they learn new words and what they mean. They learn about the world around them and important general knowledge. This will help children understand the meaning of what they read. Make sure your child has lots of opportunities to talk with you, not just listen to you talk. Respond to what your child says and extend the conversation. Repeat what your child says and use new words. If English is not your first language, speak to your child in the language that you know best. This allows you to explain things more fluently so your child will learn more.


Writing Reading and writing go together. Both represent spoken language and communicate information. Children can learn pre-reading skills through writing activities. Writing begins with scribbles and other marks. Encourage this by providing many opportunities to draw and write. Children can sign their name to drawings, which helps them understand that print represents words. As they practice eye-based coordination and develop their hand muscles, children can begin to write the letters in their names. Talk to your children about what they draw, and write captions or stories together. This helps make a connection between spoken and printed language.


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