Reading Readiness Activities for Children
There are many things you can do at home to help prepare your child to read. Here are a few ideas:
Model a love of reading. Read children’s books together frequently. Join a library and plan regular visits to choose a book together.
Letter and sound recognition is part of reading readiness. Purchase a set of magnetic letters so that your child can manipulate these on your refrigerator. Occasionally stop what you are doing to identify letters for him/her. Point out a letter in the environment, “There’s a “B” on this cereal packet. “B” sounds like “b”. What else starts with a “b” sound?” When learning to read knowing the sound associated with each letter has greater value than knowing the letter name.
Rhyming helps children discriminate similar sounds. Play rhyming games while you are in the car or during other waiting times. Say, “Bed – head. Those two words rhyme. Can you think of a word that rhymes with “shoe?” Accept real words or made-up words as correct responses.
Choose books to read to your child with lots of rhyming words. Some examples are Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown or Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd . After you have read these books together a few times, pause where the rhyming word should go and let your child fill it in.
Reading comprehension is an important part of pre-reading. As you are reading a book together, pause periodically and ask a question like, “What do you think will happen next?” At the end of the story, ask questions like, “What was the first thing that happened in this story?” or “Who was the story about?” Don’t do this every time you read a book – sometimes read just for the sheer love of reading and read it straight through without asking questions.
Developing a vocabulary of sight words is another important pre-reading skill. As you point out familiar words, your child will begin to make the connection between the spoken and the written word. For example, point out familiar words in print like your child’s name, the sign for a favourite food shop or restaurant, or train/tube signs for a familiar journey.
Developing a sight word vocabulary can also happen as you and your child read and reread favourite stories. Using books with repetitive text such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear, by Bill Martin Jr. and illustrated by Eric Carle, occasionally point to the words as you read them. You can also write down what your child says about his drawings and read the words back to him, pointing to each word as you say it.
Look for ways to build these opportunities into your daily routine and make them fun. These fun and enjoyable activities help your child become excited and motivated to learn to read.