All News & Blogs
Children reading: Read to your kids, but do more, too! by Alida Katzenberger.
Visit the Photo Place
IT'S THAT TIME of year again: time to register your child for kindergarten.
You may have questions about preparing your child for that first day of school. Kindergarten has forever changed since "our" days as kindergartners. As a former kindergarten teacher, I expected my students to be able to read and write well by the end of the year.
But if students begin the year with little letter knowledge, or an inability to rhyme, or are unable to write their names, then they are already behind the other students. While we still play games, make friends, and learn to interact with others, more academic demands are being placed on kindergartners that will help to ensure their success in later grades and in life.
Parents and researchers agree that reading to children is one of the best activities to foster language development. Reading with children increases receptive language, vocabulary, and comprehension skills--strong predictors of reading achievement. However, recent research has found that storybook reading may not be enough to enhance the early literacy skills needed for children to succeed in learning to read.
To help preschoolers develop early skills, researchers have defined two types of literacy interactions: informal and formal. Informal literacy interactions include activities like reading stories at bedtime. Formal literacy interactions involve parents teaching children about letters, letter sounds, reading words, and writing words. These formal literacy interactions will have a greater impact on children's letter knowledge, print knowledge, decoding, and spelling in kindergarten. A strong start in kindergarten will have a positive impact on successful reading in later grades.
Listed below are ideas that parents and preschool teachers can use to implement formal literacy interactions with preschoolers.
Visit the library often. In addition to exposure to new books, the library has many programs and advice about helping preschoolers develop literacy.
Give children plenty of time to play and work with letters, sounds, and writing instruments. Providing children with opportunities to work and play in these areas can provide a natural opportunity for learning and teaching.
Help children write notes to family members, label things around your house, and create grocery lists together. Anything that encourages looking at letters, sounds, and print will help develop skills.
Help children write and read their names and the names of family members.
Reading to children is an important activity for developing language skills and vocabulary. Engaging preschoolers in formal literacy activities, however, is also important for the development of early literacy skills. SOLs and other high-stakes testing are not going away anytime soon. It is more important than ever to expose preschoolers to all aspects of literacy.
Parents, you are your child's first teacher. Seek out opportunities to teach your preschoolers so that they will have the best start possible to kindergarten and will be able to transform their early literacy into successful reading and writing for life.
Alida Katzenberger is a former kindergarten teacher and a resident of Stafford County.