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A Child Becomes a Reader
from the National Institute for Literacy


Ideas for Birth Through PreSchool

What to Do at Home  

Talk often with your child to build listening and talking skills

  • Talk with your child often...as you eat together, shop for groceries, walk to school, wait for a bus.
  • Have your child use his imagination to make up and tell you stories.  Ask questions that will encourage him to expand the stories.
  • Have a conversation about recent family photographs.
  • Listen to your child's questions patiently and answer them just as patiently.
  • Talk about books that you've read together.
  • Pay attention to how much TV your child is watching.
  • Tell stories about your childhood.

Show your child how books and print work

  • As you read with your child, have him point out such things as front and back covers and the title.
  • Help your child make connections between print and pictures as you read.

Focus your child's attention on the sounds of spoken language

  • Sing or say nursery rhymes and songs.
  • Play word games.
  • Read a story or poem and ask your child to listen for words that begin with the same sound.
  • As you read, stop and say a simple word.

Have your child identify and name the letters of the alphabet

  • Point our letters and have your child name them.
  • Make an alphabet book with your child.

Support what your child is learning in school about the relationship between letters and sounds

  • Point out labels, boxes, newspapers, magazines, and signs that display words with letter-sound relationships that your child is learning in kindergarten.
  • Listen to your child read words and books from school.

Encourage your child to spell and write

  • When your child is writing, encourage her to spell words by using what she knows about sounds and letters.
  • Encourage your child to write notes, e-mails, and letters to family members and friends.
  • Have your child create his own picture book made with his own drawings or with pictures that he cuts from magazines.

Help your child build vocabulary, knowledge of the world, and comprehension

  • As you read aloud, pause from time to time to ask him about the meaning of the book.
  • Use and repeat important words such as names of buildings, parks, zoos, cities, and other places that you visit.
  • Help your child develop an interest in the world.

Support what your child is learning in school about relationships between letters and sounds

  • Listen to your child read books from school.
  • Say the sounds of letters and ask your child to write the letter or letters that represent the sound.
  • Ask your child to point out the letter-sound relationships he is learning in all of the things you are reading together - books, calendars, labels, magazines, and newspapers.
  • Play word games.

Encourage your child to spell and write

  • Say a word your child knows and have him repeat the word.
  • Write a word on paper and cut the letters apart (or use plastic or foam letters).
  • As you are reading with your child, point out words that have similar spellings, such as hop and pop.
  • Encourage your child to write often - for example, letters and thank-you notes, simple stories, and grocery lists.

Help your child build vocabulary, knowledge of the world, and comprehension

  • When you read together, stop now and then to talk about the meaning of the book.
  • Before you come to the end of a story, ask your child to predict what might happen next or how the story will end.
  • Talk about new words and ideas that your child has read or heard.
  • Read magazines and newspapers together.

Put Reading First
Preschool Through Grade 3

If your child is just beginning to learn to read:

At school you should see teachers

  • Teaching the sounds of language
  • Teaching the letters of the alphabet
  • Helping children learn and use new words.
  • Reading to children every day.

At home you can help by

  • Practicing the sounds of language.
  • helping your child take spoken words apart and put them together.
  • practicing the alphabet by pointing out letters wherever you see them and by reading alphabet books.

If your child is just beginning to read:

At school you should see teachers

  • Systematically teaching phonics - how sounds and letters are related.
  • Giving children the opportunity to practice the letter-sound relationships they are learning.
  • Helping children write the letter-sound relationships they know by using them in words, sentences, messages, and their own stories.
  • Showin gchildren the ways to think about and understand what they are reading.

At home you can help by

  • Pointing out the letter-sound relationships your child is learning on labels, boxes, newspapers, magazines, and signs.
  • Listening to your child read words and books from school.

If your child is reading:

At school you should see teachers

  • Continuing to teach letter-sound relationships for children who need more practice.
  • Teaching the meaning of words, especially words that are important to undertanding a book.
  • Teaching ways to learn the meaning of new words.
  • helping children understand what they are reading.

At home you can help your child by

  • Rereading familiar books.
  • Building reading accuracy.
  • Building reading comprehension

Proven Ideas from Research for Parents
Kindergarten Through Grade 3

 What to Do At Home

Talk and Listen

  • When you do something together - eating, shopping, taking a walk, visiting a relative - talk about it.
  • Take your child to new places and introduce him to new experiences.
  • Teach your child the meaning of new words.
  • Help your child to follow directions.
  • Play with words.

Read Together

  • Keep reading to your child.
  • Read predictable books.
  • Read poetry and other rhyming books to your child.
  • Ask your child what she thinks will happen next in a story.
  • Talk about books.
  • Build a library, or book collection, for your child.

Teach about print and letters

  • Help your child learn to recognize her name in print.
  • Point out words and letters everywhere you can.
  • Teach your child the alphabet song.
  • Share alphabet books with your child.
  • Put magnetic letters on your refrigerator or other smooth, safe metal surface.
  • Play games using the alphabet.