There are many ways adults can set the stage for skill development, motivation, and love of reading. Children acquire these sub skills of sight words, sounds, blending, and guessing using clues and language knowledge and patterns at different ages as they mature. They develop an understanding that print carries meaning and become motivated to figure out the code. Reading is a crucial skill for success in school.
What to do
READ TO YOUR CHILDREN - at least 15 minutes daily. Talk about the pictures and guess what might happen as the story unfolds. Sometimes run your finger under the text to show that you are reading the words. Have fun together talking about the pictures. Share all kinds of fiction as well as informational stories. Children often like to hear the same story over again. Be sure there are books available to use independently at playtime.
Anderegg, Macalady, Fox, Hetrick, and Katers
Show that you value books and reading. Make time to go to the library. Help your little ones save up money for a special visit to a bookstore. Give books as presents.
Let your kids see you reading--novels for fun, the newspaper or magazines for information, emails, recipes, lists, directions, road signs, letters and cards, Read out loud to yourself sometimes.
Show that letter combinations can be put together to make words. Begin with writing and reading the child's name. Show how you print names of siblings and friends. Read the names and point to each as you say it. Show that we point and read from left to right in English. Talk about the letters that make up the name.
Watch out for road and store signs as you travel around.
Take time to read together the writing on cereal boxes, cans, and packages.
Have magnetic letters available for play. Sing the alphabet song, and when your child shows interest, talk about the sounds the letters make.
Preschoolers with some knowledge of letter sounds will enjoy sliding through the sounds to guess a word. Begin this game by telling the child the sounds slowly and see if he can guess what word you are thinking about. For example, say, "I am thinking of a color word that sounds like rrrr. Eh. D. What could that word be?"
Limit TV time and computer games which often interfere with motivation to think, discover and read. ALWAYS have TV off when you are reading together.
Be sure your children have many opportunities to build background knowledge about the world through personal experiences, listening to informational books or shows, and talking with you. This knowledge helps them guess possible words later when they are reading.
Editor's note: This column is penned by retired Marquette Area Public Schools teachers Iris Katers, Jean Hetrick, and Cheryl Anderegg. Esther Macalady is from Golden, Colorado. Tim Fox currently teaches at Superior Hills Elementary. It's supported by Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship, the School of Education, U.P. Children's Museum, U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, and U.P. Parent Awareness of Michigan. Their book "Learning Through the Seasons" is available at area stores and www.grandparentsteachtoo.org. Their mission is to provide fun standards based activities that adults can do in the home to prepare children for school and a lifetime of learning and reduce the stress of child care.