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Early Reading--How Do I Begin?
Since I used to be a teacher, friends often ask me for advice on early reading for their toddlers and preschoolers. The first thing I tell them is that all children learn differently. Just because one child can read when they’re two-years-old, it doesn’t mean they are smarter than their playmate who doesn’t know their alphabet yet. Don’t force your toddler to start reading, but instead expose them to reading as much as possible.
The first thing you should do to encourage early reading is to read to your child and read often. Like most families, we read to our children every night before they go to bed, but we also have a 30 minute time in the day when I read to my kids. James and Claire absolutely love this time. They get to pick out their own books and we have great discussions afterwards about each of them. Make it a goal to read to your child at least 15 minutes a day.
Make sure your child sees YOU reading. You are your child’s greatest example. They look up to you and want to do what you are doing. Watching you read will greatly encourage them to start early reading.
Take your children to the library! I cannot stress this enough. We try to go to the library at least once a week. My kids thoroughly enjoy listening during Story Time and perusing through books. The library gets them excited about books and the adventure each story takes them.
Give them a space in the house where they can get books on their own and have a comfortable place to look at them. In our house that is Truman’s room. We have a huge bookcase we purchased at IKEA (very inexpensive, yet sturdy) and two comfy chairs next to it. We often find our kids sitting in there, engaged in a good book.
Also, give your children other things to read (look at) besides books. Magazines, junk mail, newspapers, etc. are all interesting to your toddler and encourage early reading. So don’t throw all that stuff in your recycling until you let your child look through it first.
So, what’s next in early reading? Next week I’ll post about introducing the alphabet and beginning phonics.