If you have a bit of extra time and you’re looking to get your child on track with reading this summer, you might just have a fun, exciting and fulfilling road ahead of you. While teaching your child to read can have its challenges, the hardest part is often getting started and getting them to a place where they feel comfortable reading and learning. It’s a process, but a worthwhile one.
Reading doesn’t happen naturally, though some people may think it does. Whether reading begins at home or at school, it’s an involved process with many steps and tools along the way, and you can make the most of it by getting ahead this summer. There are so many ways you can aid in your child’s understanding of the written word, and it’s never too early to start on some of the basics.
If you’re getting started on your reading path together, there are a few strategies you can introduce that are both fun and productive for your little one.
Build Phonemic Awareness
Phonemic awareness is the ability to focus and discern sounds in spoken words and speech. Phenoms are the individual sounds within words that form syllables. These are the tiny sounds that each letter makes individually, and forming an awareness of them on a vocal and audible level is the basis for reading proficiency and development.
There are many ways to build phonemic awareness even from a very early age. Singing songs, rhyming and introducing a wide range of words into their vocabulary can build their phonemic awareness, even starting in infancy. Try talking to your child using similar words you’d use to speak to other adults you know, as it can introduce words, phrases and sounds that they can get used to and pick up on.
Reading to your child is another activity that you can introduce early on. You can even begin this habit in infancy, and become more involved with it together as they grow older, gain phonemic awareness and begin to learn letters. Just listening to the various sounds and words can help your child develop in their vocabulary and listening skills. And when you allow them to follow along with the words, they can begin to gain an understanding of letters and sounds in a practical pattern.
Allow your child to follow along and sound out words on their own when they’re ready, even if they go a bit slower. You can even sound out words with them to help them get the hang of it.
Engage in Guided Play
Guided play is play designed to focus on specific learning goals for kids. As opposed to free play, guided play combines the child’s agency with adult guidance to ensure that the child is learning and having fun. This way, they stay engaged in the activity and progress in their development. This can mean taking games and activities they already love from free play and inserting learning goals or activities within them, or it can mean imagining all new games and ideas to keep your child learning.
One of the best ways to ensure that your child progresses in their reading journey this summer is to carve out time each day to practice. This can be through reading, reviewing a few letters and words, or simply engaging in play that’s directed towards reading goals and outcomes. You can even mix things up with a few different activities to target various learning styles and principles.
Making something a habit and practicing often is what makes knowledge stick. Kids do well with routine, and at the same time developing minds rely on challenge and exploration to make concepts interesting and fun. Carving out time for different styles of reading practice each day can keep the routine while also avoiding boredom so your child can truly flourish.
Utilize Games and Tools
There are so many games and tools specifically geared at helping kids learn how to read. You can use letter magnets and vocabulary matching if you’re looking for something more tactile, or you can play one of the many active learning games like hopscotch spelling or I spy. These can be especially helpful if your child is more of an active learner.
If you’re not opposed to a little bit of screen time, there are plenty of online games and systems that are designed specifically to foster reading development in children. Often, these programs feature videos as well as interactive activities that teach the fundamentals of reading. These can be used within your reading routine to help your child focus on the hard skills so they can apply them to their real life learning.
It’s never too early to practice reading skills and get your child’s brain moving with vocabulary, and the summer presents the perfect opportunity to start. No matter where they are in their reading journey at the end of the season, they’ll be off to school with a head start on the game. Children have amazing minds, and your little one might just surprise you with how far they go.